In a recent pilot project for a global fragrance and flavour company, we ran a blind test on the fragrances of two brand leading products using a traditional explicit questionnaire and one of our implicit sensory tests. The client’s neuroscience department wanted to find a better way of identifying the emotional attributes and images consumers associate with a specific fragrance or flavour, as their traditional questioning methods produce little discrimination.

Testing was carried out and moderated at a dedicated sensory facility by a third party. Sample was recruited in equal numbers of brand users. Because of the design of our implicit tests, the sensory stimulus can be integrated into the test, so sample was always experiencing this whilst we captured their responses.

As expected the explicit results were unable to produce any meaningful discrimination between the products even within the brand user groups. However, the implicit test revealed a very clear discrimination with both user groups being more positive about their own brand and highlighting the attributes and images most strongly associated with it. The profiles of the fragrances for both brands within their user groups was quite different and only a few attributes and images were shared.

Our Implicit Reaction Time test also uncovered subtleties in terms of how each user group felt about their own brand and provided new opportunities for marketing and creative to retain existing customers and develop messaging to appeal to, and attract, business from their competitor. The success of the pilot has led to further adoption of the method by the client.