We research sensory experiences and customer journeys

We help our clients develop and improve their products and services by revealing the sensory experiences that these products and services can - or do - provide.

We have three 'Senses' services, all using qualitative research

  1. Sensory qualitative research
  2. Customer experience journeys experienced through the senses
  3. Symbolism and rituals 

Sensory qualitative research

We pioneered 'sensory qual' in Australia back in 2001 and have improved it extensively since then.We conduct sensory qualitative research as part of NPD or product-redevelopment and packaging research for foods and beverages.

  • We use face to face or online qualitative (community-style) methods
  • Our research is multi-sensory in that we use stimulus materials for one sense (such as vision) to help consumers articulate their preferences for another (such as taste).
  • We use  direct, implicit and projective techniques.
  • We have pioneered bringing semiotics to our 'senses' research.

 "Consumer value lies not in the product purchase, not in the brand chosen, not in the object possessed, but in the consumption experiences derived there from" *

Customer experience journeys

We conduct customer experience qualitative research which identifies the 'moments that matter' and 'pain points' for customer journeys. We focus on the whole experience, especially how people 'make sense' of their experiences. Key to this is understanding the 'frames and schemas' that people use to make sense of their experiences.  We use direct, implicit and projective techniques

Symbolic brands and products and  festive occasions: ethnography

This is for:

  • Products and services which create emotional bonds with their customers, or which create a feeling of tribalism among customers, or which are characterised by symbolic behaviour which manages self-identity.
  • Festive occasions like Christmas, Easter, and Weddings 

We have published our work about Christmas in which we used online qualitative, semiotics and mobile ethnography here

Decoding the meaning of the Christmas meal

Who we do this for

Food and drink manufacturers; service providers; arts organisations.

Case Study - sensory qualitative research to re-frame product expectations

Our client had spotted a new opportunity, which concept testing showed to have potential. The R&D team were faced with a choice about how to make the product. Some options were more expensive than others, requiring capital investment, but seemed more in keeping with brand values.  To help, we conducted sensory qualitative research on this product, asking consumers to taste several different prototypes to see which one delivered to the concept the best. Doing this, we discovered that the concept description was more appealing than the prototypes but only because appealing because consumers had assumed many things about the sensory experience which could never be delivered. Their imaginations had run away with them, so there was a significant gap between consumers' imagined product and reality. We were able to show that by changing concept wording and illustrations we could create different expectations - a different 'frame of expectation' - of any equally appealing but feasible product.


We enjoy working with Sensory Solutions on sensory product development as well as for clients directly.

* Bertil Hulten

Tags: Qualitative Research , Customer journeys, Sensory research, Arts research, Rituals, Sensory Qualitative

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