At the beginning of this year we were looking forward to many conferences, not yet knowing about the challenges laying ahead for the organizers. Unfortunately some conferences had to be cancelled or moved to next year. However we were pleased that a few conferences were able to proceed with an online format. This required a lot of flexibility, creativity and learning new online tools to make it a success and we want to thank the organizers of the conferences this year!
The end of this year was a busy time. Conferences were all moved towards the end of the year, hoping they could take place onsite. However there was no other option then all conferences being fully virtual. The first conference was Sensometrics which allowed us to broaden our statistical knowledge. Thanks to the conference organizers, who where hosting the conference from Norway, and the presenters, we could enjoy an online conference with a wide variety in topics. We explored new methodologies and statistical methods used both in sensory and consumer research such as text mining, big data and consumer segmentation. A great addition was the live chat which was available throughout the conference and the amount of time dedicated to answer questions.
This was followed by SSP with 400 people attending from over 30 different countries. The opening keynote from Sam Latif (P&G) was inspiring as she talked about how to make products accessible for everyone. Many of us are not aware that 1.85 billion people have a disability (20% of the world population). For a blind person, a shampoo bottle or a conditioner bottle can feel the same and with adding tactile stripes to the bottles can help them to identify the bottles. She made the audience think out of the box and consider how to make products more accessible.
At SSP we were given the opportunity to present our study “Exploring seasonal context using immersive technology: the application of virtual reality technology in consumer research” in a speed poster presentation. In case you have missed it, you can view it below:
For the first time we joined SenseLatam 2020 which is the Latin American Congress of Sensory and Consumer Sciences. The congress was attended online by 520 participants with most attendees from Brazil, Mexico and Chile. We attended conferences and workshops around this year’s topic: Sustainability, health, and well-being. The plenary talk on topic: “How Is Food Choice Modified Based on The Fear Generated By Covid-19? A Study in Three Spanish-Speaking Countries” was a relevant and up-to-date study that most attendees could relate to but also showed there are really innovative sensory and consumer studies being performed in Latin America. Attending this event helped us to know more about what is going on in the sensory and consumer research field in Latin America.
EuroSense was the closing conference this year. We were especially excited for this conference as it was supposed to take place in our home base of the Netherlands. We also had to adjust and/or postpone activities we had planned for this conference. The conference organizers did however do a great job hosting it virtually allowing 733 attendees to attend from home. This year a lot of research has been conducted around COVID-19 and these study results were well represented during the conference. Topics were for example: did our eating behavior change during the lockdown and what challenges did we face when moving our sensory and consumer tests to our panelist’s home?
Also at EuroSense we presented our VR study during an oral presentation. Gemma van der Wal did a great job explaining the study and the results she conducted during her internship at EyeQuestion. You can read the abstract below.
We hope to see you all in person again in the conferences next year.
For now we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the EyeQuestion team!
Virtual Reality (VR) technology can be used to immerse consumers in a realistic eating environment, while being more versatile and controllable than a real-life location (RLL) test.
This study investigated the effect of seasonal context evoked by VR immersion on the desire for drinks and sensory evaluation of a Dutch cookie (stroopwafel).
Two groups of consumers participated in three conditions.
Group 1 (n=64) took part in the neutral sensory booths (condition 1) and a VR Christmas store environment (condition 2).
Group 2 (n=62) participated in the RLL Christmas store (condition 3). Participants rated their desire for hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate and glühwein), cold drinks (soda, juice and wine) and water. Three flavours of stroopwafels were evaluated on chewiness, sweetness, saltiness, cinnamon, caramel, honey and overall liking. Desires and product ratings were judged on a 9‑point scale. The VR condition was compared to the sensory booths and the RLL.
Desires for all hot drinks and wine were significantly higher in VR than in sensory booths (p<0.05). In the RLL condition, the desires for seasonal hot drinks (hot chocolate and glühwein), soda and juice were higher than in VR (p<0.05). Virtual immersion in a seasonal context significantly increased ratings for the stroopwafels compared to sensory booths. There were no significant differences in attribute ratings and liking between the VR and RLL conditions, except for chewiness (p-values between 0.004 and <0.001). Additionally, consumers reported comparable levels of Christmas mood in the VR and RLL settings.
In conclusion, the desire for drinks in a VR setting was congruently related to the context. However, desire for drinks was not always consistent between VR and RLL. In this study, VR technology was found to be suitable for applying situational context to consumer product evaluation for taste attributes, but not texture.
G. van der Wal1, D.B. Dull1, E.F. Martinez1, V.W.T. de Wild2
1EyeQuestion Software – Logic8 BV, the Netherlands
2Wageningen University & Research, the Netherlands