It’s wise to ask what people think of your food product. Focus groups, farmers markets, sampling events, industry events, food critics/bloggers, and one-on-one meetings with grocery buyers are all opportunities to get food product feedback.
- Positive feedback proves you’ve got a marketable business.
- Negative critique gives you ideas for improvement.
- Positive insight fuels marketing.
- Negative feedback provides insight into how to overcome obstacles in the sales process.
Now the trick is figuring out how to get reactions that are worth a darn. Most of us after trying a new food will say something like…
- It’s ok.
- Wow, I really like it.
- Ew. Gross.
Do those responses help your business? NO! You want reactions like…
- I can taste the garlic and other spices in the sauce, but none is overpowering. A nice blend.
- The packaging is beautiful! The cookies inside are beautiful, too. I definitely want to try them all.
- These are more expensive than the chips I usually buy, but the thick cut and intense flavor make me think they are worth more, too.
In the spirit of asking for feedback, we asked a couple colleagues for suggestions on how to get the right kind of product critique. First up, Jeff Davis of SamplingLab in Portland, Oregon. SamplingLab is a retail concept where consumers try new products for free in exchange for their feedback.
Who better to weigh in on this topic? Are we right?
Consider the Environment
Jeff said supermarket sampling is tricky because most consumers sampling the product don’t want an uncomfortable dialogue (who blames them?!), so if they don’t like the product they may not be honest about it just to avoid the awkward conversation. At industry events, so many people are sampling a product that it’s difficult to engage with samplers at all. However, surveying someone, or a group of people, with a brief survey works well.
“An in-depth survey can help brands drill down to uncover taste preferences, package and label design, purchase intent, customer expectation, and even potential usage,” Jeff explained. “If a brand doesn’t plan on changing a flavor profile based on feedback, they can find out how a consumer did use or plans to use a particular product, which could shed light on marketing and/or social media strategies. It’s also important to collect demographic data to understand how different age groups might feel about a particular product.”
Avoid Open-Ended Questions
According to Molly Martin, Senior Food & Booze Writer at 303 Magazine, who has done her fair share of product/food reviewing, the way you pose a question can affect the quality of the response.
“Stay away from vague, general questions like, ‘What do you like about this product?’ Instead, aim for specifics and use open-ended questions. For example, if you want feedback specifically on packaging, try asking, ‘What aspects of the product’s packaging stand out to you the most?’ This forces the respondent to offer more than a simple yes or no response.”
Start with the End in Mind
Here we are at the portion of the blog post that fits in with what we do here at The Condiment Marketing Co.: marketing! You do want to sell MORE, don’t you?
However you collect product critique, get permission to share the good bits in your marketing materials and website. Whenever possible, assign a name/location to the written or video testimonial. This is social proof, people!
Bonus Tip: Go Beyond Taste
Just because people like the taste of your food product doesn’t mean it will fly off the shelves. Price, package, placement, and use all factor into purchasing. When you ask for food product feedback, go beyond taste. Ask questions that reveal whether or not the consumer would buy it and if they would recommend it to friends.
How do you go about getting useful food product feedback?