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generalities may influence a change in methodology or a change in approach, simply because industry always wants to optimize its research process.

Another feature of food industry research is the constant inflow of validation data. For example, after determining an optimal product and using complicated models to predict sales of, say, $45.6 million, researchers begin tracking the sales data that come in every week. These data are used by researchers to evaluate their initial prediction.


What follow below are generalizations that researchers at Quaker Oats have developed over many years of testing across a sequence of studies.

Consumer Acceptance

One of the measures used widely in food research is consumer acceptance testing, often in the form of 9-point acceptability or "liking" scales. However, researchers at Quaker Oats have found that liking is a multivariate, not a univariate, problem.

For example, the Quaker instant oats products have a number of flavors. If Quaker Oats always marketed the best-liked product from among those tested, every product on the shelf would be some combination of apple-cinnamon-raisin because that is the most universally liked flavor for sweet breakfast goods. Therefore at Quaker Oats, one of the things that researchers ask is: How can multiple products be introduced that satisfy the largest population, even though some of the products may not score high in terms of "liking". Multivariate approaches are used to answer the question. When a line of frozen sandwich products was created, factor analyses revealed a segment of the population with a red meat preference. There was also a group of people who wanted products with lots of vegetables and another who wanted barbecue and other spicy flavors. Researchers responded by choosing one or two products from each of the factors so that the broadest product acceptance across the total product line could be achieved. Quaker Oats researchers have also developed an analysis technique that operates almost as a Venn diagram. It finds the combination of products that optimizes overall line penetration.

Food Behavior

Another key finding from the food industry is that basic food behavior is difficult to change, and slow to change when it does. For example, when Quaker Oats tests a product, subjects are asked: What would you substitute

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