••• a Quirk’s resource guide 20 top Taste Test Companies When it comes to conducting market research, there are various methods that you can use to gain insights into a product. But when you are focusing in on food, beverage and other consumable goods, the best way to know if consumers will like a product is to have them taste it! Properly-conducted taste tests are an effective way to gather important data on new products or to measure consumers’ opinions on line extensions. Taste-testing can also help assess changes or improvements in a product and function as a way for consumers to rank your products against your competitors, providing essential information about the preferences of your target audience. Top-ranked taste-testing research firms will have the ability to find and recruit your target audience; provide access to test kitchens and other facilities essential for conducting sensory research and have the knowledge base to help you understand what it takes to conduct thorough and accurate tests to gather the most in-depth and effective data on products. Here is a list of firms offering taste-testing and sensory research capabilities. AOC Marketing Research Founded 1980 | 25 employees Cathleen Christopher, CEO AOC’s specialty is large-quota taste tests and other in-person research in our Charlotte, N.C., facility. Our test kitchen is fully-equipped with 12 dedicated circuits, ample product prep tables, multiple large and small appliances, cookware and utensils. Our testing room features hardwood floors and seating for 32 with laptops and dividers. Each of our testing rooms has wireless amplifiers and our backup Internet is set to kick in within seconds in case the primary goes down. At AOC, we have an experienced staff and the tools your need to make your next taste test project a success! Phone 704-341-0232 www.aocresearch.com Area Wide Market Research Inc. Founded 1988 Ann Weinstein, CEO Area Wide’s seasoned staff pours three decades of experience into every project. Our professional in-house recruiting team – the most skilled in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia – can fill any group, from an intimate few to many hundreds. Recruiting low-incidence? That’s when we do our most creative sourcing! For central location tests, we staff and manage the entire process seamlessly. On-site, enjoy classroom-style or individual booth configurations, ample free parking directly outside our door to ensure on-time starts and a stocked kitchen with two fridges, two freezers, four microwaves, four ovens and its own viewing room. Plus, our building is privately-owned. No product, from cigarettes to alcohol, is off-limits! Phone 301-590-1160 www.areawidemarketresearch.com C&C Market Research Founded 1992 | 700 employees Thomas Morrison, Project Director C&C Market Research is the complete answer to all of your data collection needs. For over 25 years our data collection specialists and field locations, coupled with our proprietary programming and data transmission capabilities, have ensured countless successful projects for all our clients. We are the largest privately-owned and -operated data collection company in the U.S. and have remained a leader in today’s marketplace through hard work, ingenuity and a dedication to quality. During this time, we have worked on numerous taste test projects in each of our facilities. From projects with light prep to projects with full kitchen prep, including ovens and ranges, we have experience across the board. Phone 479-785-5637 www.ccmarketresearch.com Chudnoff Associates Founded 1989 | 10 employees Mark Chudnoff, CEO Chudnoff Associates Inc. is an established company that has been providing custom marketing research solutions since it was founded in 1989. We specialize in food and food service marketing research and are known as the “creative problem solvers.” Recognized for our award-winning partnership that demonstrates a strategic point of difference in the areas of quality, service, innovation and value. Our signature Fast Track Sensory Optimization Program (from test to in-market in weeks) offers a national sample that utilizes an iterative qualitative/quantitative process in order to develop the best possible products. Phone 732-863-1100 www.chudnoff.com Compass Marketing Research Founded 1981 | 30 employees Scott Taylor, CEO The Culinary Research Center at Compass Marketing Research is a state-of-the art, chef-designed commercial test kitchen facility located in Atlanta. We understand the unique requirements and complexity of food and beverage research. Our seasoned staff includes project directors, sous chefs, food scientists and other culinary/project support. We offer flexible spaces that support simple to complex platforms. All equipment is quick disconnect/roll away to be configured as needed. Plentiful fridge/freezer space for product storage. Laptops for online data collection and real-time data and quota management. Phone 800-627-7667 www.compassmarketingresearch.com Focus World International Inc. Founded 1980 | 48 employees Gary Eichenholtz, CEO/CFO Focus World International (FWI) celebrates 36 years in market research. Only FWI can provide a purpose-built, custom designed sensory testing facility complete with 16 E-Sense chambers to meet the tight deadlines and complex randomizations of sensory research studies! Forget about classroom-style seating or vanilla-box partitions! With our guaranteed data validity and our paid-to-pay-attention approach to project management and our ability to maintain control of all possible variables within the evaluation environment (lighting, humidity, facial reaction, crosstalk-contamination, etc.) that could adversely affect the integrity of data, our clients are able to make actionable decisions with confidence. Phone 732-946-0100 www.focusworldinternational.com Food Perspectives Inc. Founded 1990 | 74 employees Nancy Eicher, President and CEO Food Perspectives is driven to help our clients develop products consumers love. We offer expert research design consultation across all phases of the development lifecycle, from idea discovery, defining critical design elements, optimizing the formulation and validating launch readiness. FPI represents the disciplines of sensory science and consumer insights, equipping us to be an expert extension of your business team. Our MN headquarters features two state-of-the-art commercial kitchens, a large flexible CLT room and two focus group rooms. The research activities you conduct in our space are limited only by your imagination. FPI’s clients include CPG, alcohol and restaurant companies. Phone 763-553-7787 www.foodperspectives.com Herron Associates Inc. Founded 1958 | 45 employees Sue McAdams, CEO Leading food clients choose Herron for our large state-of-the-art culinary space, hard-working staff and seamless deliverables. We partnered with leading culinary teams to bring you a kitchen designed by experts for the best culinary experience. Our spacious facilities offer a 960-square-foot kitchen and large research suites accommodating 12 to 50 respondents. Amenities include 21’ commercial hood, five gas quick connects, three phase power with 450 amps, 8’ x 8’ cooler, 8’ x 8’ freezer and a truck-level loading dock. Visit Indianapolis for a fresh perspective on your consumer and see why clients make our kitchen their preferred kitchen. Phone 800-392-3828 www.herron-research.com INGATHER Research & Sensory Founded 2001 | 25 employees Cory Balthaser, CEO INGATHER Research & Sensory® is the blue ocean concept of marketing research in-context. Providing both traditional and alternative qualitative and quantitative research, INGATHER’s Unsalted Cracker Lab™ is ideal for new menu testing and includes a full commercial kitchen, bar and restaurant within the space. The Common Sensory™ is perfect for both ingredient and CPG research, housing full consumer testing capabilities with breakout rooms. INGATHER’s 12,000-sq.-ft. facility was built by researchers/scientists to meet the evolving sensory needs of today and the innovative in-context needs of the future. Whether it’s cleaning products, fragrance, automotive, cosmetics, pharma or gaming, INGATHER can handle your sensory testing needs. Phone 303-988-6808 www.ingatherresearch.com KMR Research Studio Founded 2014 | 12 employees Helen Karchner, CEO Recent client demand prompted the opening of The KMR Research Studio. We offer cold taste-testing and beverage research from this state-of-the-art focus group facility located in the true suburbs of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. We offer excellent value in our non-traditional studio with the most important aspect - fresh (non-career) respondents! It’s more fiscally economical, professionally inviting and aesthetically pleasing for everyone! We provide a plethora of fresh respondents, largely research naïve and untapped. The KMR firm, established in 2003, has conducted qualitative PMR in over 78 industries nationally, focusing on brand positioning, target audience identification, messaging and communication validation, new product positioning, customer service evaluation, etc. Phone 610-489-0559 www.KMRResearchStudio.com The Martec Group Founded 1984 | 35 employees Linda Segersin, Director Relentless. Research. The Martec Group is a full-service global marketing research company celebrating over 30 years of marketing research excellence. Martec supports a vast array of industries, technologies and markets, including automotive/transportation, health care/life sciences, building construction, financial services, energy and food and nutrition. Utilizing Martec’s in-house database, which includes sensory-trained panel members, Martec conducts sensory testing and taste testing, including blind studies and in-home testing. Martec’s Green Bay, Wis., office features a consumer-based test kitchen where our in-house chef not only prepares menus for focus groups but also prepares and assists in judging recipes submitted in recipe contests. Phone 888-811-5755 www.martecgroup.com Precision Research Founded 1959 | 40 employees Scott Adleman, CEO Taste tests have a tremendous number of moving parts: product purchasing, check-in, storage, equipment arrangements, recruiting, staffing, survey programming and client-specific needs to name a few. When it comes to executing a successful taste test with so many moving parts you need experience and we have it. Our staff is ServSafe certified with years of experience. Our Chicago location features a comprehensive commercial test kitchen and is centrally located to capture both urban and suburban consumers as well as commercial food service clients. Phone 847-390-8666 www.preres.com PVR Research Inc. Founded 1965 | 54 employees Donna Pickert, CEO Come experience the PVR difference and see what our clients are raving about! Our large commercial kitchen space features ample freezer and refrigerator storage, multiple electric and gas connections to configure whatever cooking equipment is required. Our professional staff is skilled to provide any culinary support to help prepare and serve the test products in a timely and effective manner. Our CLT room accommodates up to 50 respondents. Culinary research is one of our core competencies, allowing us to provide the desired level of support on any project so that you can make successful marketing decisions. Phone 770-232-0322 www.pvr-research.com Q&M Research Inc. Founded 1986 | 25 employees Donald Tucker, CEO From ready-to-serve products to QSR clients, Q&M Research is your optimal choice in the Chicago and Dallas markets for all taste-testing needs. Our large testing area and focus group rooms are directly accessible from our commercial kitchens, which are equipped with a 20-foot hood, walk-in cooler, walk-in freezer, ample counter space as well as 400 amps of electrical in each kitchen, gas and plumbing to support commercial/restaurant equipment. Q&M Research Dallas also has a residential kitchen with client viewing. Call your research partner Q&M Research in Chicago and Dallas! Phone 708-479-3210 www.qandm.com Q Research Solutions Inc. Founded 1992 | 70 employees Patti L. Nelson, CEO Q Research Solutions (Q) focuses on consumer and sensory research for CPG innovation. Experts in taste-testing consumer research, we pioneered isolating aroma through Q’s qPOD® mobile technology that permits “in-use” aromas without cross-contamination. As an integral part of The Culinary Institute of America, we provide technical subject support via our Q adjunct professor. Q’s sensory and consumer research facilities include a wide variety of task rooms to engage consumers throughout product development, state-of-the-art prep kitchen, panel room that holds 40 consumers comfortably and controlled storage. Phone 732-952-0000 www.qrsglobal.com Reckner Facilities Founded 1991 | 225 employees David Reckner, CEO Celebrating 25 years of market research excellence, Reckner provides state-of-the-art taste test and product testing facilities located in Milwaukee and New York. Spacious, fully-equipped test kitchens offer ample refrigeration and freezer space, dishwashers, ovens, abundant counter space and more. Personnel are fully-trained in food service and are well-versed on the detailed protocols of product preparation and testing. Highly-tenured staff are engaged and dependable and able to provide the experience, professionalism and flexibility necessary for a successful project. Additional multipurpose space and product testing booths provide flexibility to complete large quotas and complex designs with quick turnarounds. Phone 215-822-6220 www.recknerfacilities.com Rocky Mountain Research Focus Groups LLC Founded 2008 | 8 employees Cynthia Robinett, Owner/Director Located in the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs, Rocky Mountain Research leads the way in market research. With a beautiful 2,200 square foot office with 18 Internet-ready computers, including a separate conference room equipped with a two-way mirror. We offer focus vision for all your streaming needs and a complete kitchen capable of accommodating your entire taste test needs. Our company will guide you through the entire research project and get the results and solutions you need. We specialize in focus groups, focus vision, international studies, consumer opinions, product testing, taste testing and product development. Phone 719-637-7944 www.rockymtnresearch.com RTi Research Founded 1979 | 55 employees David Rothstein, CEO RTi helps turn insight into action. We are an innovative, global, full-service market research company and for more than three decades our clients have counted on us to connect the dots, tell the story and influence action. We are an AMA Gold Top 50 company and a Connecticut Top Workplace. Our talented, experienced and dedicated team has extraordinarily deep expertise earned over decades of supporting successful brands. In RTi, you have a partner you can trust to navigate the many nuances of formulation screening, benchmarking, productivity and quality improvement, delivering the answers you need on time and on budget. Phone 203-324-2420 www.rtiresearch.com Shugoll Research Founded 1947 | 85 employees Rick Seale, Executive Vice President Shugoll Research is the leading CLT and focus facility in the Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia areas. Our two spacious facilities in suburban Bethesda, Md., and Alexandria, Va., offer nine rooms with viewing, two kitchens with freezer and refrigerator storage. Both facilities are conveniently located on the D.C. metro. We can accommodate large taste tests with our flexible room space. Our database of over 120,000 respondents in the D.C. metro area can provide a diverse range of respondent demographics. Our staff is experienced in fulfilling taste tests in sizes from 30 to 350 including multi-day testing studies. Phone 301-656-0310 www.shugollresearch.com TasteMakers Research Group Founded 2010 | 5 employees Andrea Poe, CEO TasteMakers Research Group provides common-sense consumer product testing solutions that deliver agile, affordable and authentic consumer insights. Our innovative and cultivated methods are built for consumer product innovators, business strategists and marketers who demand quick, quantitative and cost-effective results. TRG’s proprietary PopUp CLT™ (central location test) methodology is a hybrid approach recognized for its unsurpassed ability to conduct in-person consumer product testing, such as taste tests, while achieving breakthrough cost savings and real-time results for clients. Other methodologies currently in use can cost over four times more and take at least three times longer to conduct. Phone 323-533-5954 www.tastemakersresearch.com
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