Imagining Ingredients: Takasago’s Research and Creative Philosophy
by Nick Roskelly
Corp., Rockleigh, N.J., continues to be innovative in flavors, fragrances,
fine and aroma chemicals. Dave Ingersoll, corporate vice president of
fragrance and flavors for Consumer Insight & Marketing Research (CIMR)
shares the progressive marketing and research efforts Takasago employs to
better understand its customers.
Tell us a little about
what you do at Takasago.
Dave Ingersoll: An
essential role of CIMR is to provide the voice of the consumer to the
creative teams. For me, this advisory or consultancy role is performed on a
global basis. The challenge is to standardize multi-cultural consumer
research activities so that the elusive global product can be identified as
early in the process as possible.
My key challenges are to strategically align consumer
research objectives with the business objectives while involving the
consumer as a strategic partner throughout the creative development
How exactly do you go about determining which flavors
and fragrances consumers prefer?
Dave Ingersoll: With
Takasago’s consumer centric philosophy, the number one priority is to
involve the targeted consumer as early in the creative development process
as possible. Essentially, Takasago uses the consumer more as a partner with
repeated testing instead of a judge and jury with one confirmatory test at
the end of the project. With the consumer centric approach, our creative
team can have more meaningful interactions with our clients as the project
advances. Hence at Takasago, marketing research is learning for the
creative team, and our learning is an interactive and iterative process. We
prefer to fail early in order to succeed sooner.
How do you develop any new/experimental research
concepts that Takasago currently applies?
Dave Ingersoll: The
bottom line in developing winning new concepts is to capture the imagery
generated by the consumer. By imagery, I am referring to the emotions,
memories, destinations, similes, etc., consumers use in describing a flavor
or fragrance. One realizes quite quickly in marketing research that
consumers lack the language to express their perceptions, thoughts,
feelings, etc. about the test sample that just experienced.
With the qualitative approach at Takasago, images are
generated by having consumers first generate collages and then generate
stories around the collages — I love a good consumer-derived story.
With these “stories” in mind, quantitative studies can be
performed with many creative concepts — anywhere from 16-24 creative
concepts. Critical is the diversity of these concepts and the
questionnaire used to probe for imagery, and hopefully derived from the
Once you’ve conducted research, how does
the backend of the process evolve into applicable information and data?
Dave Ingersoll: Essential
to CIMR’s success was to move away from the traditional MR data dump
of tables and graphs with pages and pages of statistics for decision making
— both the creative and business teams. In essence, the data dump has
been replaced with one-page perceptual map containing the consumer
perceptions and reactions to either flavors or fragrances.
The perceptual maps used at Takasago are typically
generated by correspondence analysis and not by either factor analysis or
principle component analysis. Perceptual maps generated by correspondence
analysis are more intuitive for the creative team, and allows us to easily
create a “personality” for each flavor or fragrance in the
study. These constructed “personalities” provide the
creative team with stories to better understand and modify their
Which flavors and fragrances are moving from niche
consumer groups to a more mainstream population?
Dave Ingersoll: Consumers
indulge in the comfort of rich “edible” scents, such as honey,
brown sugar and fresh-baked goods. In the floral category white florals
such as jasmine and tuberose have become predominant players. Orange
flower, traditionally very European, is now being used across many U.S.
product categories — consumers find the note to be very comforting
Nick Roskelly is managing editor of Stagnito’s New