Global taste and wellness company, Givaudan, says using neuroscience to better understand consumers’ emotions about food will help food and beverage companies adapt to changing consumer expectations and transforming food systems.
Givaudan is partnering with neuroscience company Thimus, on its Food Emotions program. Thimus created TBox, a ready-to-use platform, which monitors the unconscious processes influencing human behaviour, providing an exclusive R&D asset for food and beverage companies.
The platform provides an integrated collection of explicit and implicit data to explore how humans experience food.
Givaudan global head of Science & Technology for Taste & Wellbeing, Fabio Campanile, said the partnership is a major milestone in consumer understanding.
“Understanding and responding to consumer preferences has never been more important, but there’s often a gap between what consumers say and their actual experience and behaviour. Neuroscience may be the key to closing that gap,” Campanile said.
In testing scenarios, as well as the conventional focus group or questionnaire, TBox provides participants with a headset to wear during taste tests. The headset records brain signals, which are then processed by validated algorithms to measure four key mental states including frontal asymmetry, engagement, cognitive workload, and relaxation.
Using proprietary software and a cloud-based database for data analysis and retrieval, the tool can deliver insights that were previously unavailable or unreliable.
“Neuroscience has the unique ability to reveal how consumers truly feel about a product throughout the eating or drinking experience. It has the power to revolutionise how we co-create with our customers, increasingly satisfying consumers, and transforming the way the world eats while enabling more nutritious food choices,” Campanile said.
Givaudan has successfully used the Thimus technology with some of its customers. In one case, consumers were given two prototypes of a botanical soft drink. The results found the consumers implicitly preferred one over the other.
“The implicit data gathered from Thimus was used to pinpoint a negative reaction during the taste phase in the second product. The team was then able to identify a successful route to optimise the soft drink by improving mouthfeel. In this instance, the problem and its resolution could not have been uncovered by examining declarative data alone,” Givaudan said.
Thimus founder and CEO, Mario Ubiali, said, the company was excited to work with Givaudan because of a strong alignment between the two on their missions to transform food systems through a food experience lens.
“At Thimus, we’re humanising neuroscience and using it to redesign the foods we eat. We’re eager to support Givaudan in gaining an in-depth understanding of the motivations, culture and emotions that underlie these experiences,” Ubiali said.
Givaudan is rolling out the technology gradually and will be available for selective customers in some regions.