Many tools for many goals

Like a mechanic starting to work on a car, you will need to build your own sensory analysis toolbox before you start. Sensory analysis offers about 25 different sensory test patterns, each one is used to obtain a certain result. If carried out correctly, the sensory tests ensure that the outputs of the analytical procedures and statistical elaborations are objective, replicable and meaningful. In three words, you will obtain reliable, scientific results.

Each Sensory test test differs from the other in complexity, number of samples to be analysed, number of samples served to each panellist, skills and number of panellists required for the test. One of the main things to keep in mind if you want to start a sensory programme is to start building an appropriate Sensory analysis toolbox.

How to choose the right test for your needs

But how can we choose the right sensory test for our needs? We can say that sensory tests can be grouped in categories or families. The tests in the same category answer to the same type of question:

  • Discriminant tests: is there a difference between the samples?
  • Directional tests: do the samples differ for a given characteristic (attribute)?
  • Quantitative tests: how big is the difference between the samples?
  • Descriptive tests: what attributes characterize the sample?
  • Dynamic tests: how attributes evolve over time
  • Affective tests: what is the level of satisfaction of the sample?
  • Emotional tests: what emotions are evoked by the sample?

So as Panel Leaders, once we choose the right family of sensory tests, we can go on to select the specific pattern we think we should use. This decision is based on a series of factors such as the purpose of the analysis, the number and quantity of samples available, the sensory fatigue generated by the sample and the number of panellists available and their level of expertise.