Corona Newsflash

Image of isi GmbH
isi GmbH

With the beginning of the Covid-19 related regulations in Germany on March 16, 2020, we started to share our corona newsflash on LinkedIn. Two times a week, we kept you updated about the newest developments, about the status our field partners and gave helpful tips and insights from our experience. Here, you can reread most of our updates.

isi in Corona times / newsflash 59

We guide you to implement in-home sensory profiling!

During the Corona crisis we are all challenged to keep our business alive and be creative about how to keep up the good work while still maintaining safe and healthy.

isi has therefore created an innovative approach to ensure smooth continuation of our sensory work. We temporarily converted most of our panels to in-home profiling, which of course was a great challenge, considering the unique requirements of each product category.

Having successfully completed a lot of sensory in-home tests, we can now offer you to benefit from our experience. 


isi in Corona times / newsflash 57

Very encouraging consumer feedback for isi’s testing procedures

Some days ago, we presented the feedback from our panelists testing in our sensory lab facilities. Today it is time to share the very positive results we gathered from a total of 524 consumers who took part in various research projects in our centrally located consumer test laboratories in Cologne, Munich, and Hamburg.

Thanks to our very detailed action plan we have in place to guarantee secured testing after the re-opening in May, the feedback is really motivating for all of us. With >90% top 3 box mentions, one can conclude that the consumers feel safe, perfectly informed, comfortable, and satisfied when testing our labs.

These results are a clear proof that one can conduct sensory evaluation at central locations, with the right procedures in place!


isi in Corona times / newsflash 52

isi panelist feedback – “We feel well informed and safe in the isi labs”!

From the beginning of the crisis isi put in a lot of effort to run projects with our Sensory Panels under the safest conditions. E.g. we build new mobile cabin booths in our group discussion rooms, separated our panels over the three labs and our lab staff always monitored that panelists respect the minimum distance, mask wearing and hand washing rules as well as all other hygienic measures.

To gain an insight into the impact of the effort isi took, we asked our panelists how safe and comfortable they felt during the past sessions and adapted test conditions. Overall, we see that the panelists are feeling well informed and safe during the sessions under the current circumstances. Together with a high state of information before the actual test participation they feel safe and satisfied.

To sum it up: The effort and adaption fulfil the official guidelines & in addition also the panelists feel safe which is essential for a good performance.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 50

isi shares their experiences….

During the Corona-crisis many companies stopped their Sensory & Consumer activities due to governmental restrictions, lockdowns, and social distancing. Not only isi, but also other companies got creative to develop new & innovative ways to continue projects & keeping the Sensory World alive.

To support food companies in their decision to proceed with their projects, IFTS (Institute of Food Science & Technology) has organized a webinar about “Conducting Sensory and Consumer Research during Lockdown”. isi Senior Sensory Professional Annika Ipsen will share our convincing results, that In-Home-Profiling does not need to hide behind the “big brother” of Lab-Profiling & data is comparable in stability and quality in both set-ups. In addition, Phiala Mehring, Research Director of MMR Research Worldwide, will talk about “Innovation from Lockdown” and Jean A McEwan, Jean A McEwan Consulting Ltd, will share her experiences from “Test Design and Data Analysis Outcomes: Moving from CLT to the Home".


isi in Corona times / newsflash 49

Welcome back… First industrial design & usability tests executed in German test studios again!

It’s been awhile since we ran the last face-to-face (F2F) design tests with physical prototypes – Corona also made us move this type of study into the online world. However, if you’re really interested in sizes, proportions, haptic impressions and product interaction, you can’t go without physical prototypes.

We’re happy to be able to run F2F design and usability tests in studios again. Given the common distance and hygiene restrictions, a study on Major Domestic Appliances is currently taking place in Munich. Equipped with tablets, small groups of respondents evaluate different prototypes and discuss them in detail. The test session is streamed into the client’s (home) offices… Client comment: “With this study, isi really sets a high standard for both execution AND live-streaming."

Thanks for the compliment – we enjoy being back in the studios…


isi in Corona times / newsflash 45

Creative solutions for sensory testing

Thanks to strong partnerships with our valued clients, so far we have managed “the crisis” without too much impact on our business.

We remain busy to conduct consumer, descriptive & discriminative projects for our global clients mostly in our own sensory labs & across our dedicated international partner network. Trust pays off - and we are glad to be in a position that allows “continuity as much as possible” even in Corona times.

Our carefully developed testing strategy & hygiene rules require one piece the most – distance of the participants for secured evaluation. With creative solutions such as additionally created test booths in our numerous group discussion rooms (all fully ventilated & air-conditioned), we can split e.g. our sensory panels into 2 groups having 50% testing in the booths of the sensory lab (with sufficient space among them) and the other 50% using such creative solutions in our training rooms.

We believe that we need to live with such improvised solutions for a while - but we need to take actions & master this jointly.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 43

Innovation Management reinvented

These days many companies must deal with restrictions and a severe business impact. Of course, also isi has been affected by the lock-down, but we also see the current situation as opportunity to critically reflect what we did, are doing and will offer in the future.

We start shaping the future today - with even boosted activities in our Innovation Management. Since early 2020 we have launched a company-wide initiative to bring in external experts, motivate our teams and ensure that everybody can contribute by placing ideas and developing them further.

Amongst others, we internally discuss ideas such as interviewing via digital assistants (i.e. via “Alexa”), agile status tests or different business models for platforms. In addition, we have also generated various improvement potential for internal / existing processes. More to follow in the next few weeks!


isi in Corona times / newsflash 42

isi’s multi-client sensory panels - a smart quick fix

With a robust hygiene and action plan in place, we have re-opened tour facilities for sensory / consumer work. We get much positive feedback from participants, clients & our team. We also realize that many companies still have put all their internal sensory work on hold and thus require a quick-fix for urgencies.

In addition to many client-specific (“exclusive”) panels we run for selected companies, we have also invested in so-called “isi Allround Panels” that can work for single projects for various isi customers. These days we are often approached by our valued clients to help with these “isi Allround Panels” & to conduct their urgent projects that cannot be done internally.

Our panelist pool consists of ca. 40 screened persons that have participated a basic training and attended numerous different projects in the past. With minimal project-specific kick-off training, we can thus work on such urgency studies with our “isi Allround Panels” and deliver fast and affordable results also in such special times.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 41

isi Covid-19 survey (2): Stock-keeping at home still relevant

Today we present results of further statements we had included in our running Covid-19 consumer survey in Germany. Below we show the detailed data for the 3 statements with the LEAST AGREEMENT.

While we had seen that respondents generally are highly motivated to try out new recipe ideas / cooking at home (see our analysis from 2nd June), our results do not show a certain behaviour of sticking to known / trusted brands for a majority of respondents.

Still ca. 1/3 agree that they have a higher stock of basic food at home. Hence, it might be wise for companies positioning their products as part of the basic routine or as part of basic recipes. Ideal products today give the consumers more freedom / control to create their own result at home – i.e. instead of ready-to-eat pizza rather a pizza-preparation kit or instead of a Bolognese sauce ready to heat from the glass a paste or spice mix that enable the consumers to create their own dish at home.

It is time for helping assistants rather than for 100% ready solutions. And consumers are willing to experiment & to try out new ideas.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 40

isi team supported special charity run

It is a good tradition that isi donates a remarkable fund to charity & social projects every year. Especially now in crisis times organisations need our further support to continue their important work, so we decided to motivate our employees to participate in a specific charity run organized around Whitsun here in Göttingen:

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions also another tradition & annual team event - the Göttingen Altstadtlauf in summer - cannot take place. Hence we convinced our team to start individually for this charity run and count the respective kilometres for the good purpose. Per each kilometre collected by our team isi offered to donate 10 EUR to the local initiative of supporting parents of children with cancer. Although we learned only quite late from that event and thus informed our team only with short notice, a total of 86 km has been "collectively added" to the bucket, resulting in a donation of 860 EUR from isi.

We thank all participants for their contribution and are confident that the money will be well received.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 38

isi Covid-19 survey: Consumers interested in innovations & home-cooking

As announced last week, we have initiated a survey-series to measure the consumers current behaviour during the Covid-19 crisis. Today we start sharing the first results from a consumer questionnaire we launched in Germany (more to follow in one of the next newsflashes).

Out of many asked statements HIGHEST AGREEMENT can be seen for those related to an ACTIVE BEHAVOUR and interest for variety & self-cooking at home. Thus, despite of Corona bringing us all in a more passive mode, consumers seem to be actively looking for their own little freedom with indulging themselves with new products and preparation of more food at home.

This might be the right time for innovations, putting more self-control to the consumers, i.e. enabling them to prepare, cook, arrange etc. at home!


isi in Corona times / newsflash 37

Consumer behaviour and need states in these special times

These days we are often approached by clients who ask whether it is feasible and reasonable to conduct Sensory & Marketing testing despite of “the crisis”. To provide a better guidance, we have decided to initiate a general survey about consumers motives and attitudes related to foods & beverages. This will be launched for Germany as a first instance and potentially be extended to other regions, if possible. First insights can potentially be shared via an upcoming newsflash by mid of next week.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 35

isi in-home solutions in expert article published

DLG e.V. (German Agriculture Society) has just published an expert article “Sensory for foods – contact-free, digital and online”. Co-author was isi Senior Sensory Professional Annika Ipsen who contributed an important part about sensory profiling including very promising results to compare in-lab and in-home data. We are glad to partner with DLG and the other authors of the article in such an important topic. IT IS TIME FOR CREATIVE SOLUTIONS and JOINT-VENTURES, i.e. thinking out of the box.

Many of our clients are really convinced from the results and additional opportunities in-home profiling adds to classic approaches in the lab and have therefore decided to continue with it despite of the re-opening of our facilities for secured lab-testing.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 33

1st consumer test after the lock-down successfully completed

Is testing with naïve consumers possible also in these special times? A clear YES from isi after finishing the fieldwork for our 1st consumer project after the general lock-down from mid-March. We've just completed a consumer study for potato salad with 120 participants in the isi Sensory Lab at Cologne which we manage together with our partner Quovadis Thanks to our joint elaborate action plan in place, we ensured a controlled & secured testing. This, for example, also includes to invite only 6 respondents for a session to our lab that has 12 booths to keep sufficient distance.

Feedback is positive - consumers value the opportunity to re-start testing & appreciate our different activities in place to ensure that all recommendations given by the law authorities are fully maintained. Together with our full range of in-home solutions plus the re-opened sensory facilities at Göttingen for sensory profiling we can now say that isi IS FULLY CAPABLE TO RUN SENSORY STUDIES for our valued clients.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 32

Sensory Panel Work @ isi in COVID-19 times

After re-opening our sensory facilities for sensory panel and consumer testing work, the projects are conducted considering the “new normality”.

Thanks to our strict hygiene and process rules that we have established, testing can be offered to all our clients in a very safe environment.

The feedback from our participants are very positive – they appreciate our protection measures and feel comfortable to come to isi. Below a short video showing the “new welcome ceremony” for panelists when entering our premises for a training session. Please note the hygiene rules, the distance between any 2 panellists and the innovative digital training session. All sessions happen in our lab, but we avoid crowded training in a group discussion room and link the panellists and the panel leader via videoconference.

Together with our ongoing activities via home-use solutions, we are well-prepared for the next months to come, with all the limitations and restrictions in place.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 30

Sensory Profiling in the lab under Corona restrictions

Last week, we have re-opened our facilities for secured sensory testing. Our first initiative involved the Sensory Profiling with our trained expert panels, happening at our head office Göttingen. We currently manage a total of 16 dedicated (“client-exclusive”) and 2 multi-client panels that are open for ad-hoc projects of numerous clients.The feedback from our lab assistants, the panellists and the clients is really promising and shows that with the right rules for hygiene and distance, sensory testing in the lab can be handled with care in Corona times.

We work with only max. 6 panellists in parallel per sensory lab even if we have up to 16 booths available. This ensures sufficient distance among all participants inclusive the lab assistants who serve the samples in a contact-free environment.

During the current week, we will also start consumer testing at our other locations (i.e. Cologne and Hamburg).


isi in Corona times / newsflash 29

Online Qualitative Research

Here at isi, like everyone, we are having to adapt to a ‘new normal’. For qualitative research that means a number of planned face to face projects have been successfully switched to an online approach. Increasingly, we’re finding that interviewing respondents close-up on screen has its merits. It demands their full attention and involvement at all times. As moderators, we get to see their detailed facial expressions and how they react spontaneously as products and new ideas are introduced. All this adds greater insight and richness to our findings.

Being creative in finding new solutions is key as much as motivating our respondents! So, in our product testing we send out products ahead in cleverly designed, compartmentalised packaging. Respondents enjoy the ‘big reveal’ when opening the packs at the relevant point in the discussion. The whole move to online has been smooth and productive. We’re now introducing new creative techniques and ways of sharing ideas with respondents to enrich their online experience.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 27

The future of Sensory Profiling: In-lab or In-home?

In the last 7 weeks isi has elaborated the expertise in in-home approaches. We have demonstrated that in-home testing with consumers & trained panellists works & enables companies to deal with the current COVID-19 restrictions. We are now in the phase of a “soft re-opening” of our German test facilities, so from day to day more of our 18 sensory descriptive panels return to the “usual lab-environment” following the specifically developed guidelines (see newsflash 26).

Due to the positive experiences we have made with in-home profiling in the past weeks (i.e. see newsflash 25), a valid question might be: SHOULD WE “FALL BACK” TO LAB-TESTING AGAIN OR IS IN-HOME PROFILING THE BETTER SOLUTION FOR THE FUTURE? isi’s response to this: This is not an “either..or” decision but rather an “as well…as” topic! Both strategies have their clear advantages, irrespective of the fact that we have proven that they both deliver comparable results.

Our clients can rely on our sound consultancy which strategy to follow when designing a sensory profiling study - depending on the research need, we will recommend the most appropriate approach.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 26

Sensory Testing at isi’s Labs possible from beginning of May

Since 16th March we have stopped all in-lab testing in order to protect the health of our staff and test persons. Now we are carrying out many projects in-home with convincing performance.

In line with the current easing of the restrictions by the Federal Government of Germany, we will start re-opening our German test facilities with specific procedures in place by early May. This will allow our valued clients to conduct testing with trained panelists or consumers following our special Best Practices for the actual situation. Without going into too much detail, we of course have clear rules and regulations in place, ensuring enough distance, consistent hygiene and avoiding direct contact wherever possible. You can rely on our expertise!


isi in Corona times / newsflash 25

In-home profiling works - real data now available

Today we are proud to present masked results from one of our key client’s sensory descriptive panel profiling for dairy products conducted over the last 8 weeks. The project involved a total of 17 samples, and it was started as usual “in lab profiling” with 2 measures per product. During replicate 2 Corona crisis and the closure of our labs for all projects required a PLAN B and we quickly switched to “in-home profiling” to complete this important project.A comparison of the results gathered via different approaches is REALLY CONVINCING: Both the sample positions (left picture) and the detailed sensory profile of an exemplary product (right picture) match for in-lab and in-home data.

Although we currently plan a re-opening of our labs by early May, the client is so convinced by the data and the benefits from in-home project work (i.e. higher workload possible as we do not need to stick to joined sessions in our lab) that he decided to conduct also the next project in-home.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 24

Insights from remote sensory testing in the last weeks

After closing our facilities for any consumer- & panel testing we've gained elaborate knowledge in how to manage such projects alternatively. Thanks to our agile teams and to existing knowledge the switch to smart in-home solutions was surprisingly smooth.

We can conclude the following:

  1. All "basic" sensory methods work in-home: consumer liking tests, sensory profiling & discriminative methods. We've done all of them in the last weeks and generated reliable data.
  2. Consumers & panellists are highly motivated and thankful to be involved in tests these days. These activities mean a kind of “normality” and allow forgetting about other current problems. We receive much positive feedback via various channels from the participants.
  3. You need to rely on clear “Best Practices” in order to ensure proper product handling, pre-portioning, packaging & “transfer” to the participants. Thanks to our infrastructure with contact-free pick-up points for direct sample collection and contracts with logistic partners we were able to master the increased demand for sample distribution in GER and other global regions.

isi in Corona times / newsflash 23

Back to “normal” Testing in isi’s Sensory Labs?

Since 16th March we have closed all own labs for testing with naïve consumers & panellists. Since then we are successfully conducting many projects via innovative “in-home” solutions. With the now initiated soft “opening” of shops & other venues in GER, we are receiving requests if testing at central locations / in our labs is also possible. Be sure that we're carefully monitor these developments & are preparing for a “re-opening” under special conditions as soon as possible. We are neither a shop (opening allowed) nor a restaurant (still under lock-down) and we have also the contact-ban continuing until min. 3rd May. 

Thus we're considering options under which circumstances and with which special policies we can start working in our labs FROM 4TH MAY 2020. Thanks to our spacious infrastructure we could ensure separation of lab assistants & test persons, we can i.e. arrange individual testing areas to avoiding close contacts. Hence, an opening with limited capacity, e.g. with only 4 to 6 consumers / panelists testing in parallel, might be realistic.

We'll keep you updated in our News & thank you for your patience.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 22

Photo-story of preparations for in-home profiling

Over the past years isi has gathered much experience in preparing, conducting and analysing projects to be conducted in-home. Thanks to this experience we were quickly able to transfer all activities with our trained sensory panels from a lab-environment to a process run in-home.

One key quality factor is the preparation of the individual test-kits including samples for in-home evaluation, references, material for palate cleansing and instructions.
Today you see some impressions from our exact procedure how we prepare the test-kits for the in-home profiling of cream cheese samples. We ensure contact free, standardized packaging of the test-kits as a key condition for a later smooth evaluation in-home.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 21

Guidelines for valid in-home profiling

It’s been 5 weeks since we have switched from classic lab-profiling to in-home profiling for many of our panels, given that the samples are available, and our clients supported this approach. For today we can only conclude that IN-HOME PROFILING REALLY WORKS! It turns out to be flexible, accurate, efficient and even faster than lab-profiling due to the general capability of running more than i.e. 2-3 sessions a week if the panellists are free to fit in the profiling time in their day.

As we also did such in-home profiling in the past and see now an increasing demand due to the limitations from the Corona lock-down, we have compiled a short document summarizing all our Best Practices, guidelines and experiences so that we can base our work not only on gut-feeling but on clear criteria.

Upon request, this document is available for all interested current and future isi clients. Please contact


isi in Corona times / newsflash 20

New isi label launched - "certified IHUT partner"


Not only since Corona times isi is offering smart and efficient in-home solutions for sensory testing. They cover consumer projects, sensory profiling with our trained expert panels and difference tests with our pool of pre-screened, but not trained discriminative consumers.

In order to demonstrate our special expertise to conduct CONSUMER TESTING IN-HOME on a GLOBAL LEVEL, we have now launched a new quality label "certified IHUT partner". This fourth label complements our family of quality labels with which we certify our specially selected global partners that meet our strict criteria for professional project work.

Thanks to our increasing network we are able to support clients all over the world with sensory consumer work in labs, central locations, with qualitative research and with in-home projects. In order to become a certified IHUT partner, w

e screen and permanently control important key qualities such as recruitment, sample handling / storage and shipment to respondents.

isi in Corona times / newsflash 19

Stay fit & healthy, isi team!

Together with the Techniker Krankenkasse (TK), our health insurance partner, isi has been running an internal health and fitness program for quite some time now. Great to hear that the TK also offers their great services in Corona times: All isi colleagues can use an online health coach, a fitness program that can be started and carried out individually – free of charge! This program is like the “professional twin” of many private online health and sports activities that have grown over the 2 past weeks – a fantastic initiative! Many thanks to the TK!!!

isi in Corona times / newsflash 18

Team communication from home – learn from Agile Innovation Management

Knowledge work strongly relies on personal exchange, knowledge transfer and intense communication. In normal times, a lot of that happens informally: you meet coincidently somewhere in the office, grab a coffee, step by at someone’s desk – or schedule a proper team meeting where you sit together. All that does not work in Corona times. However, knowing how crucial good communication is to us, we learn and borrow a lot from Agile Innovation Management: Weekly’s & Daily’s keep us informed about the current project status. MS Teams becomes our central communication hub. Tasks and their progress are shared on virtual Kanban boards… A lot of these routines will probably remain when Corona is over – and help to improve our knowledge work even further.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 17

Internal training & team-building reinvented

“isi Lunch & Learn” is an internal format we use to train & inspire our staff and to further strengthen the isi team spirit. Once a month the entire team meets for a presentation or exercise with following discussion and lunch.

Great idea, but hard to maintain in Corona times? No! Last Wednesday, the first fully virtual “isi Lunch & Learn” took place with the entire team participating from their home offices. Led by isi Innovation Consultant Prof. Lutz Göcke and isi MD Joachim Haag, the team discussed tools and processes that can be used to transform new ideas into agile innovation processes. The feedback was positive – and encourages us to continue with these initiatives.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 16

Skype-based in-home interviews about to start

Contact restrictions require creative solutions. Together with one of our clients, a manufacturer of salt products, we are investigating attitudes, preferences and usage behavior of their target consumers. What had been planned as in-home visits has now been readjusted to Skype-based in-home interviews. Using modern conferencing software, moderator and respondents exchange thoughts and thank to the smartphone camera, the consumers can easily show how they store and handle products, and what their relevant home environment looks like. We think: A great example of how client and agency made the best out of this strange situation!


isi in Corona times / newsflash 15

In-home sensory profiling WORKS!

Since we have stopped all lab testing with panels & consumers, isi has undergone an agile & successful transformation process. Together with our valued clients we have converted our testing activities to in-home approaches wherever resonably possible, including the regular sensory profiling work we conduct at our different German locations with descriptive panels.

Thanks to great teamwork of panel leaders, lab managers & lab assistants we prepare samples in a contact-free environment, also working with clients on new ways of sample provision (i.e. pre-packed / pre-portioned). Our panellists pick up samples from special "drive in counters" without the need to enter our premises. Training is done by Video conferences and profiling happens individually in-home following clear instructions.

All conducted analyses so far and comparisons to past data gathered via lab profiling indicate that this "new format" of sensory profiling results in reliable insights. Of course not all projects can be transfered in-home, e.g. where we see sample-shortage or products that need special preparation equipment - but we are there to find solutions.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 14

Valid Benchmark norms for consumer studies

Due to our years of experience in global sensory consumer testing isi has gathered robust data in > 1,500 recent studies over the last few years. In a Master Student project lead by our statistician we decided to make most use of this available data for future guidance of our clients.

Different from a retrospective view (i.e. extracting the values for the 5% best products in our data base) our statistician invented a statistical-mathematical ALGORITHM that allows PREDICTING Benchmark scores depending on several input variables. Hence, we are able to estimate how well a "good" product should perform CONSIDERING plenty of test CONDITIONS that can be pre-selected, e.g.

  • CLT or HUT
  • Blinded or branded approach
  • No. of products
  • Market samples or prototypes involved
  • Scale
  • Product category
  • Country
  • Sociodemography of sample

This estimation is made based on our algorithm, using 1,545 input projects. We currently offer that tool as add-on for our clients in sensory consumer tests before starting the survey so that we have clear ACTION STANDARDS that serve as guidance for results interpretation.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 13

Caring activity for kids

Since 2019 Agnes Wiegand supports isi as qual researcher & initiated a very special activity for our kids. Her motivation: "Children in the crisis suffer in silence, see fear in our eyes, hear words they don’t understand & even can’t see their friends anymore! As adults, we are surpassed by the current events, so imagine how lost our kids are!

Thus I decided to dedicate some of my time to them. My idea was to help them get in contact with their peers in a safe way. Next to being a market researcher, I am a certified Lego® Serious Play® moderator, so I had the right ‘tool’ in hand. After quickly adapting the method to their needs, I started short LEGO workshops online. Aim: engage social communication, motivate creativity & have fun!
The results surpassed my expectations! “We miss our friends, so this is great!”, “Even when I cough, you’re not in danger!”. The kids chat, laugh & continue playing at home afterwards. Bingo!

I’d like to inspire others to offer free workshops for kids. I know we all have ‘a lot on our plates’ but we shouldn’t forget to help children cope with this unsecure situation too."

A VERY BIG THANKS to Agnès for these great workshops!


isi in Corona times / newsflash 12

Is the Corona crisis impacting test results?

For sure we are all in a special emotional conditon these days. That's why also food selection behaviour has changed. We seek for so called "comfort food" that pampers our soul, reminds us of positive moments i.e. in childhood (


Clear YES for all objective approaches such as sensory profiling or discriminative testing. When it comes to subjective consumer information, one has to take a closer look.

In short: All RELATIVE comparisons remain valid, i.e. measuring relative liking of recipes to each other & identify the winner. ABSOLUTE measues against fixed benchmarks, on the other hand, should be avoided, as the general liking level might be different. Caution is also recommended when gathering the current relevance of consumers motives, as topics like "security" or "discipline" are actually more present. Nevertheless, learned connections i.e. between certain sensory signals and motives still remain valid (i.e. citrus odour in bathroom cleaner = power & performance).


isi in Corona times / newsflash 11

1585547580065isi successfully finished its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) assessment executed by EcoVadis.

In this assessment we could demonstrate our responsibility for our impact on society, including social, environmental and economic aspects, as for example outlined in major internationally recognised reference documents on CSR.

More specifically, CSR for example involves fair business practices, staff-oriented human resource management, economical use of natural resources, protection of the climate and environment, sincere commitment to the local community and also responsibility along the global supply chain.

And the best thing is, isi could even reach SILVER MEDAL which means that we belong to the top 25% of all EcoVadis assessed companies.

isi in Corona times / newsflash 10

Responsible product placement for in-home testing

These days we successfully transfer many tests to in-home evaluation. We are aware that testing in such special times, with food and beverage samples involved, requires a responsible treatment of the samples and a reduction of any "waste" to a minimum.

Typically, in-home tests start with ca. 50% overrecruitment (depending on test length & no. products involved) in order to guarantee achiving the agreed net sample size. This would mean, for example, in order to secure 100 evaluations, 150 consumers need to start the test, i.e. 150 products need to be shipped. Due to our STRONG PARTNERSHIP with reliable partners, a special pool of responsive consumers and permanent, x-project evaluation of participation, we are able to start with a smaller initial consumer group, resulting in LESS WASTE of resources / products. In addition, our BEST PRACTICES for proper storage, packaging and clear handling instructions ensure that testing in-home can be done economically with regards to products involved and related costs.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 9

isi BEST PRACTICES testing in-home with consumers

Consumer testing via IHUT (in-home use testing) is currently a clever alternative to testing at CLT (central locations) as it avoids direct interaction with respondents. In past years isi has gathered sound experience in IHUTs, covering categories like cosmetics, pet & baby food, beverages, spreads or ice cream.

What are the key success factors for IHUTs?

  1. Recruitment: We cooperate with partner Online Panels that provide us with a specific pool of respondents to ensure high responsiveness.
  2. Sample shipment: We take care of blinding, packaging and direct shipment via logistic partners. Frozen or chilled transport is no problem, we track all shipments and ensure that they arrive fast and reliably. Also age checks (i.e. for cigarettes) at hand-over can be agreed.
  3. Clear instructions: We instruct how to treat the received samples (storage, preparation etc.) and also control when the tasting questionnaire completion happen (via time prints).
  4. Questionnaire hosting: We control the whole survey, see the progress & can send reminders if needed. Data is directly in our hands, without any delay.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 8

Reliable insights from first in-home profiling studies delivered:

Although several studies have been cancelled or postponed by our clients, isi remains fully capable of conducting your research right now. As you can see from the pictures below, we have organized a contact-free sample pick-up from our sensory facilities. This involves proper sample storage also for the way home.

Our panel leaders conduct the training sessions via MS Teams call so that the whole panel can jointly taste and discuss. Also profiling can either be done via Video conference (all panellists at the same time, with their individual sample order) or separately without being directly connected. Responses are entered into our questionnaire (exactly the same that is used when profiling in the sensory lab).

Good to know: A first profiling conducted in-home (last week) has been analysed by our team and it delivers comparable data to a previous profiling project done in the sensory lab.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 6

Standing together - and finding solutions.

Exactly a week ago isi has stopped all testing activities in the sensory labs with descriptive panels and with consumers. This clear decision without exemptions was necessary to protect the health of our team and of the panelists / test persons.

Unfortunately, this is leading to some cancellations and delays in scheduled projects. One should not forget: despite our clear "no CLT - no risk - policy" we remain fully capable of managing projects globally. Our team is highly motivated and available to support all incoming project requests, now and in the future. Immediately we have switched to an "in-home-testing" full service, transferring basically all work to the respondents' / panellists homes. We have Corona, but we do not have the end of intelligent sensory testing.

The newsflash of today in ending with a very big THANKS TO OUR MOTIVATED LAB ASSISTANTS, making this switch to "in-home mode" possible with their engaged work. And we do also thank our clients that keep the contact to us, support us with new projects and ensure continuity in our business.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 5

isi in HomeUse-Testing mode for many client projects.

Instead of being paralyzed  our team has managed using this first week of the Corona crisis in Germany to successfully switch many projects to HomeUse-Testing.

We currently conduct:

  1. Quantitative HomeUseTests with consumers
  2. Qualitative HomeInterviews with respondents
  3. In-Home Profiling with sensory panelists

The feedback from current and potentially new clients is overwhelming as we all need to find a solution to complete started work or start new projects that have to be done. We have also been contacted by potentially new clients that stopped their own internal work and require creative solutions. With the forecasted duration of this situation, we all need to consider options.

For all interested readers we offer a more detailed presentation deck about the special isi capabilities in-home. You can request it from


isi in Corona times / newsflash 4

Social distancing is a "must" in these days. That is why we have clearly decided to stop all activities in our sensory test labs and do no longer run consumer tests or profiling sessions at a central location. 95% of our employess work from home and only few come in for contact-free tasks that need to be done in our head office.

As we have a total of 18 sensory descriptive panels, not only our core employees, but also our panellists have uncertain times ahead. We see it as our obligation to find creative solutions to keep the life as "usual" as possible while clearly behaving responsible for everybody.

SENSORY PROFILING IN-HOME WORKS and KEEPS THE PANELLISTS ENGAGED. We have conduced many such projects in the past and have clear BEST PRACTICES in place for this. Even tricky products such as ice cream, hot beverages etc. can be handled and via our Videoconference software we can run joint training sessions and if needed monitor also profiling in home (i.e. preparation, tasting...). Our software gathers the data and we track time prints, breaks etc. so that the data quality is highly comparable to the classic "lab profiling" approach.

Attached a picture from yesterday in-home profiling of orange juice.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 3

Valuable insights with in-home sensory profiling - thanks to our excellent teams @isi we have changed plans for several already scheduled sensory panel projects and switched to the "in-home-profiling" mode.

Our motivated lab assistants are preparing samples in a quiet, contact-free test facility. Other team members take the ready-prepared samples to our "drive in counter" in front of the lab, where panellists can stop by with their car, get the products and take them home - again without direct contact.

We can ensure chilled or frozen sample preparation and run panel training sessions via our Video conference software. Panellists are clearly instructed how to store, prepare and taste the samples.


isi in Corona times / newsflash 2

"We minimize social interactions, but we will not reduce generating insights for our clients"...


isi has gathered vast experience in this, for many different product categories. From our head office in Germany we manage 3 Allround Panels that have done several projects "in home" and could now support your concrete project, if you are after sensory profiling data.

We did this e.g. for cosmetics, beverages, sweets, snacks, tobacco products, dairy.

Samples are prepared and distributed via our test center, with minimal personal contact (kind of "drive in" solution). Our panel leader runs training by Videoconference and panellists use our Online questionnaire to enter data, which is live in the system and can be monitored instantly.

Please reach out to us for further information. WE ARE THERE TO SUPPORT YOU also in these special times.


*we excluded posts with outdated information like invites to past events

Blog posts

Related Articles.

Image of Fabienne Hübener
Fabienne Hübener

Overview: Consumer Testing & Corona

How isi succeeded in managing a nearly seamless transition from onsite Lab testing to in-home...

Read more
Image of Fabienne Hübener
Fabienne Hübener

isi introduces its worldwide field partners

"Whether Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Mexico or anywhere else in the world, we offer our customers...

Read more