The image above is a view of a concept under development at The Lab in the Bag : a sensory cabin equipped with an immersive kit (view, sound, smells, wind, temperature)
Our conviction is that the test laboratory must evolve from a neutral space to a contextualized space.
It is well established that the experimental context influences the hedonic response of consumers, with many parameters that can impact judgment: place of test, time, social context,...
Measurements made in standardized laboratories are therefore unlikely to be predictive of consumer perception in real life.
The contextualisation of the laboratory appears as a very promising way to gain in reliability. Nancy Holthuysen's team (Wageningen Food & Biobased Research) recently demonstrated how the creation of an aircraft interior decor had made it possible to reproduce results obtained in flight situations in the laboratory, while the traditional test room provided divergent results. Another example is the work carried out by AgroParisTech, The Lab in the Bag and Repères, which, in the case of non-alcoholic beers, revealed a context-product interaction and an immersive neutralization of the effects of the test hour (more details here).
Beyond a simple reconstruction of contexts, the immersive laboratory will be a real "playground" for consumer studies, with unprecedented potentialities..:
Of course, to ensure standardization, by ensuring that the different contexts can be faithfully reproduced, in order to offer greater data reliability,
But above all play on reality: modulate the senses and measure the impact of these variations, work on space-time (a succession of places or moments, reconstitute 1 day in 5 minutes, create a stress effect...)
So far this research has been conducted with naïve consumers but our hypothesis is that the contextualisation of the laboratory will also be an opportunity for descriptive measurements made by expert juries who, although trained, remain nonetheless human and subject to unconscious influences.
We hope to be able to carry out experiments soon to validate this track. To be continued...
Here is a presentation on the subject made at the last annual day of the SFAS (Société Française d'Analyse Sensorielle):