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Fragrance Concept Testing

By Rebecca Schmidt

Avon was assessing new fragrance concepts through a combination of traditional quantitative measurements focused on rational responses to a concept (Self Reports of Purchase Interest, Overall Appeal, Personal Relevance etc.) and qualitative research which explored emotional reactions to new concepts on an anecdotal basis. Avon management sought to increase the power of the screening protocol by developing a method to quantitatively evaluate both the rational and emotional appeal of new fragrance concepts. This method needed to translate across cultural borders, to include Brazil and Russia as well as North America.

Avon also sought to develop statistically robust quantitative norms in both the rational and emotional measurement domains, and to develop a set of performance benchmarks that would allow them to more accurately assess the market potential of new fragrance product concepts developed for these three very disparate markets. Ideally, a means for combining data on rational and emotional concept response was desired, such that a single metric could become the basis of “go/no-go” decision-making. Avon’s interest in an emotional response measurement method that was based upon applied neuroscience arose from the perceived need for a measurement technology that was not subject to the distortion inherent in self-report.


Avon’s program of qualitative emotional exploration was replaced by a statistically validated quantitative approach to measuring emotional responses called the MindSight® emotional measurement technology.MindSight® uncovers authentic emotional insight from consumers before the rational mind can edit and distort responses to enhance social desirability. The patented MindSight® protocol was developed based upon applied neuroscience findings concerning the micro genesis of image processing in the brain, which point to a “discovery window” for eliciting emotional responses to an image while a subject’s limbic (emotional) structures are activated, and before the transition to rational processing of the image. MindSight® measurement yields measures of overall strength of emotional appeal in a concept, overall level of emotional resistance, and specific types of emotion driving both concept appeal and resistance. Because MindSight® is a rapid exposure/response protocol, it allowed Avon to measure emotional energies connected to their fragrance concepts in a cost- and time-effective manner. The use of a stimulus library whose emotional evocation value was validated in each of the target markets meant Avon could get emotional concept feedback across its diverse target market cultures. 


The first wave of the Avon fragrance concept test initiative focused on 65 total concepts, across 9,300 men and women who were potential Avon consumers, in three countries. Results successfully separated promising concepts from those with less promise and provided emotional diagnostics to support concept revision to enhance appeal and/or reduce resistance. Subsequent waves of the Avon fragrance concept test initiatives will result in a statistically validated set of norms for response to fragrance concepts, as well as benchmarks of test performance levels indicative of likely in-market success. As this larger scale, normative data set comes online, we expect to integrate the quantification of emotional energies with rational measures to ultimately create a new Concept Test Metric – the MPI (Motivated Purchase Interest).


MindSight® Emotional Measurement Technology represents an effective practical application of neuroscience to the measurement of emotional response that is cost-effective, time-efficient, and globally scalable. This image-based assessment tool yields statistically valid quantitative profiles of emotional responses that can provide both performance measurement and prescriptive diagnostics for evaluating and optimizing product concepts. The Avon Fragrance Concept Testing Initiative shows how MindSight® was successful in evaluating multiple fragrance concepts, across multiple market cultures, with a metric that integrated rational and emotional measures of concept impact. Final Thoughts MindSight® has been successfully deployed on quantitative initiatives with thousands of globally dispersed respondents. MindSight® delivers results in real-time and can be deployed on mobile devices, making it easy for respondents to participate in studies anywhere and anytime. Marketers and market researchers alike recognize the power of emotion in influencing consumers’ decisions and behaviors. The time for evolving the traditional concept test to accommodate valid quantified measures of emotional concept impact is here.

Contact Information
Forbes Consulting Group, USA
www.forbesconsulting.com, Contact: Rebecca Schmidt

This article was originally published in the Neuromarketing Yearbook. Order your copy today