Research area

Consumer studies

Nofima Mat has been building up solid competence in consumer studies over many years. We have experience in methods that measure and reveal a product's optimum properties in relation to the consumer's choice and actual consumption (acceptance).

Our tailor-made methods and segmentation tools focus on how to:

  • generate new product ideas
  • reveal food perceptions and acceptance of food products in various consumer segments
  • understand consumers' own vocabulary for products and the properties of products (both design and taste properties). These may be used later in communication about the product
  • implement strategic methods for segmenting consumers, as well as methods for understanding consumer choice and preferences. These methods may later be used for defining the optimum product

The results of consumer studies are related to sensory data from a trained panel, which make it possible to translate consumers' responses into sensory properties. In this way we can optimise the product based on specific requirements of the consumer segments and also investigate whether the product has the properties that the relevant target group prefers. When working to satisfy the various consumer segments, information, presentation and development of products must all be emphasised.

We offer both qualitative and quantitative tests

Qualitative tests are usually performed with a smaller group of consumers and may reveal answers to specific questions. Some examples of tests we carry out:

  • In-depth interviews: help to reveal how consumers perceive and associate values and attitudes with a specific food product.
  • Moodboard: an association method to bring out the consumer's underlying associations with products, brands or product concepts. These are often non-verbal or subconscious associations, but nevertheless important for differentiating products and brands.
  • Repertory Grid: a method of revealing values, words or properties that the consumer connects with products and brands. The purpose of the text is to generate the consumer's own vocabulary or language on sensory properties or brand properties.
  • Focus groups: to cast light on a special theme, for example given product categories or products. This method is based on a structured group discussion with between 6 and 12 consumers who assess and discuss products' interpretation and consumer appeal. This is a very suitable method for testing out new ideas and concepts. The questions to be answered are entirely up to the commissioning company. These might be about price, taste, consumer expectations, opinion on packaging etc.
  • Observation studies: help to reveal what consumers do. What consumers say they do and what they actually do are not always the same thing. Observation studies of consumers in their own homes, in shops or in restaurants can therefore provide useful information for product development.

We offer quantitative tests that provide information from a greater number of consumers. These include:

  • Preference mapping: combines information about preferences for product trials and other questions relevant to the product, such as taste profile, willingness to buy, what situations the product is suitable for etc.
  • Conjoint studies/experiments: the use of product trials together with other relevant factors (price, context factors, brand information) so as to understand the significance of the various factors for consumers' choice.
  • Attitude studies: we use a battery of questions specially designed for a given product to investigate consumers' attitudes to various themes of significance for choosing food and products. The test is often used in combination with preference mapping and provides more information about what characterises consumers who prefer products with different properties.
  • Concept tests: surveys of how consumers assess a product concept on the basis of given criteria. Here you can be looking at a whole range of things, including price, design and brand, user-friendliness, applications, taste, taste attributes etc.
  • Consumer defined product profile (Just about right): consumer evaluation of key properties of your product. For example, is the product too salty or just about right? Is it spicy enough? Is the consistency of the product too loose? How is the colour?
None Photo: Kjell J. Merok
Copyright: Nofima

Photo: Mette Risbråthe
Copyright: Nofima

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  • Øydis Ueland

    Research Director, Consumer and Sensory Sciences

    Phone: +47 64970494

    Cellphone: +47 996 07 621