When devising ideas for new consumer healthcare products, like toothpaste, painkillers or indigestion remedies, the journey starts with what consumers want.
Data and insights telling us about what consumers are looking for, when it comes to looking after their own health, helps us shape the products consumers really need.
Every year we carry out research involving around 10,000 consumers. The studies take place either in our Consumer Sensory Labs or at consumers’ homes. The aim is to understand how consumers live, how they use products and the challenges they face in their lives.
By targeting our insights, we can make sure our products are personalised and ensure they’re the right product for the right person, wherever they are in the world.
Our data shows that taste and packaging are the two areas where we can have the greatest impact when customising our products.
Finding the right flavour
When it comes to identifying trends in taste around the world, our Consumer Healthcare business works closely with flavour houses, which are companies that create and produce flavours which are added to product formulations.
Together, we create a flavour profile, so that the flavour house can develop a few options in small batches for us to test. A flavour isn’t just one ingredient, it is a mix of ingredients that we develop with the flavour houses – this is what we call a flavour profile.
We then test these options with a panel of experts to assess flavour, smell, colour and other properties of the product, to give a holistic view on which is preferred. Once we’ve identified the flavour we want to go with, the flavour house develops it in a larger quantity and supplies it to our manufacturing team to add to the product.
The format of the flavour is liquid and very concentrated, so it’s only a very small amount – often less than 2% of the overall product – and we must ensure that we use the correct quantity for each and every product we produce.
“Some of the trends we’re seeing are that there is a growing preference for products with a natural flavour,” said Nicolas Pochart, Director Consumer Innovation & Sensory Sciences.