The Covid19 pandemia is challenging every person and every company. We have reacted to it in our tried and true isi way: with flexibility, creativity, and reliability. Even though sensory tests can no longer be conducted in the lab (central location testing), we offer a good range of alternative testing methods. For example, in-home testing, home interviews, online questionnaires and more. Thus, despite the crisis, we are continuing testing for our clients by introducing innovative test methods that work.
In our daily Corona newsflash on isi LinkedIn and Facebook, we keep our clients and followers updated. To get a glimpse into how we are dealing with the crisis as we rise to the challenge, take a look at our newsflashes over the last 15 days. If you are interested in more information, please contact us: Joachim.Haag@isi-goettingen.de.
isi in Corona times / newsflash 1
Dear valued isi clients, these are challenging times for all of us. We need to take the security of our teams and of the test persons seriously and react now, in a reliable manner as you know it from isi. Thus, we have decided to currently stop testing activities in our German sensory labs and discuss the situation with our international partners. You can be sure that we will act reliably.
PLEASE do also bear in mind that isi has years of experience in fast and efficient Home Use Testing. We recruit respondents, ensure proper shipment, control the online questionnaire and guide test persons also through the product handling process in home. Due to our experience in sensory lab testing, we are a good partner for your activities in the alternative Home Use Test scenario.
We would be glad to stay in touch with you and support your projects with alternative solutions. Please get in touch with us.
isi in Corona times / newsflash 2
"We minimize social interactions, but we will not reduce generating insights for our clients"... EVER CONSIDERED SENSORY PROFILING IN-HOME? 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 panelists 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.
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. Panelists are clearly instructed on how to store, prepare and taste the samples. Let's connect and find a solution for your concrete insights needs. In-home-profiling is efficient, can be done at the same prices as sensory lab projects but with greater turnaround due to more tastings per week. Stay healthy, respect the social distance and have a sunny Wednesday, your isi team
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 employees work from home and only a 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 panelists 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 responsibly for everybody. SENSORY PROFILING IN-HOME WORKS and KEEPS THE PANELLISTS ENGAGED. We have conducted 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's in-home profiling of orange juice.
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 mode. We currently conduct: 1. Quantitative HomeUseTests with consumers 2. Qualitative HomeInterviews with respondents 3. InHome 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 potential 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.
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 resp. 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' / panelists' 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 7
See our latest ideas at our new Website section We are absolutely confident that we will come out of this crisis even stronger. Not necessarily stronger in financial aspects, but stronger in: - team spirit - work from home - using digital tools to support meetings etc. - shaping the relationship to good clients - innovative ideas In line with the last aspect, we have just launched a new Website section (OUR LATEST IDEAS). The intention is to share work we are currently developing very early with interested visitors of our Website and enable a direct feedback function so that the thoughts of our valued clients can be fed in. Please check out: https://lnkd.in/dsRTdup We would be glad to receive comments about these ideas and to elaborate them further JOINTLY WITH YOU. Visit this section regularly for continuous updates.
isi in Corona times / newsflash 8
Reliable insights from first in-home profiling studies delivered: Although several studies have been canceled 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 panelists 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 analyzed by our team and it delivers comparable data to a previous profiling project done in the sensory lab. We would be glad to support also YOUR CONCRETE PROJECTS with this INNOVATIVE APPROACH.
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 upon. 3. Clear instructions: We instruct how to treat the received samples (storage, preparation etc.) and also control when the tasting questionnaire completion happens (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 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 responsible treatment of the samples and a reduction of any "waste" to a minimum. Typically, in-home tests start with ca. 50% over-recruitment (depending on test length & no. products involved) in order to guarantee achieving 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. Give us a call - we guide you to the right approach for your concrete project need. Enjoy a lovely weekend, your isi team.
isi in Corona times / newsflash 11
isi successfully finished its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) assessment executed by EvoVadis. 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 recognized 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 12
Is the Corona crisis impacting test results? For sure we are all in a special emotional condition 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. https://www.zeit.de/zeit-magazin/2020-03/ernaehrung-quarantaene-ungesund...) Question: CAN I CURRENTLY STILL CONDUCT SENSORY TESTING? 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 measures 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 consumer's 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 13
Caring activity for our kids. Since 2019 Agnes Wiegand professionally supports isi as qual researcher & initiated a very special activity for our kids. Her motivation: “Children in this crisis situation suffer in silence. They see fear in our eyes, hear words they don’t understand and even can’t see their friends anymore! That’s hard. As adults, we are surpassed by the current events, so just imagine how lost our kids are! Therefore, 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 methodology to their needs, I started short LEGO workshops online. The aim: engage social communication, motivate creativity and 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 and continue playing at home after the workshop. 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 insecure situation too.”
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 the most use of this available data for the future guidance of our clients. Different from a retrospective view (i.e. extracting the values for the 5% best products in our database) 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 an 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 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 reasonably 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 panelists 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 transferred in-home, e.g. where we see sample-shortage or products that need special preparation equipment - but we are there to find solutions.