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The Power of Custom Protocols

Custom protocol development is essential in the sensory world, now more than ever. The degree of customization needed will depend on our client’s test objective. Simple customization could include tweaking the attribute(s) of interest for the product category through addition or removal from the core list of attributes being examined, or a change of evaluation site to match the attributes of a specialized or core protocol.

With new product categories continually surfacing on the market, and on-going supply chain challenges, a more complex approach may also be leveraged which will encompass the complete development of a new category. In-context protocols require science-based principles and controls including typical use with the consumer experience in mind. Many CPG companies have flagship products on the market with a specific performance that consumers have come to expect. The question of consumer brand loyalty comes down to these expectations being maintained. Supply chain challenges have left many product developers scrambling for undetectable ingredient substitutions that will not disrupt any aspect of the consumer experience.

The Spectrum Descriptive Analysis Method has a vast library of core evaluation protocols in all major consumer categories. Further, the sensory scientist can take several approaches to develop a custom protocol. For a simple customization, the sensory scientist first gains knowledge of the client’s specific objectives then develops the attributes that will focus on product performance in a way that best meets those objectives. Product developers seek deeper understanding of the sensory attributes of their formulations for many reasons, including to assess the impact of an ingredient change or to compare their product against competitor products in the market, allowing for optimization. The flexibility of custom protocol development allows our clients to get the exact insights they need to reach their objectives.

More complex customizations require a team of sensory scientists, as well as utilization of a critical panel to develop attributes which will produce the actionable insights product developers can use to discover where their formulation may require changes to meet all expectations of the finished product. Sensory Spectrum’s comprehensive experience in product understanding and the consumer experience frames the sensory properties and landscape of a category, allowing us to create for our clients complex and advanced custom protocols from the ground up. After complete development of a custom protocol, the attributes and protocol are validated through the vigor of evaluation with multiple samples evaluated across the category by an expert Sensory Spectrum panel. Sensory Spectrum panels are scientific instruments, extensively trained in evaluation with a minimum of 100+ hours of training in describing attributes and calibrated intensities to guarantee the best analytical documentation of a sample. The resulting insights can make all the difference for product developers looking to optimize a product or make formulation changes without negatively impacting the consumer experience.

Lisa Codespot is the Program Manager for Personal Care and Discrimination. She has been with Sensory Spectrum since the North Carolina facility opened in 2009. She completed her degree in Biology from the University of North Carolina Charlotte in 2015. She has spent numerous hours developing custom protocols in personal care.


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