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"A child’s job is to play, we should let them" - Pamela Wong, Direction First


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There are various techniques that have been developed for food sensory research on children, but there is little consensus on the most effect approach and questions to use. This slide share explores such issues.

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"A child’s job is to play, we should let them" - Pamela Wong, Direction First

  1. 1. A child’s job is to play, we should let them... Or should we? Pamela Wong Direction First AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  2. 2. Background Sensory food research on children  Little consensus in literature on the most effective research approach and question types to use There are various techniques that have been developed for food sensory research on children, but there is little consensus on the most effect approach and questions to use. Some examples include:  Pair-wise question approaches, where children are asked to choose a favourite between 2 options before drilling down to more graduated questions.  Questionnaire scale lengths have been tested extensively – Should we be using 2, 3, 5, 7 or 9pt scales? Balanced or unbalanced?  The language used on the scale points has also been debated, and whether we should label every scale point.  Picture type scales such as traffic light inspired facial scales and star scales have also been considered among others. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  3. 3. Background Sensory food research on children  Consensus that children require specialised research approaches  Children respond to research in more limited ways than adults and tend to:       Have difficulty understanding and following instructions, interpreting abstract symbols and pictures, Have limited linguistic and numeracy skills, and shorter attention spans, Rate new ideas or foods positively because they are excited about the novelty, or Rate ideas or foods they know positively because they are familiar with them. It has been suggested that by combining familiar things with new things, marketers may be able to produce more appealing products for kids (e.g. green tomato sauce) As a result of these limitations, researchers need to adapt ways to ask questions AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  4. 4. Background Today’s children live in a digital world...  Children are exposure to more products, ideas and technology than previous generations...  Average internet use 30 to 60 mins per day, less TV, radio  90% play video/computer games  Use several technologies simultaneously (e.g. Surfing & SMS)  Multi-tasking with media technology is cognitively demanding (e.g. driving and texting)  We know children respond to research in more limited ways, but are we underestimating the digital native’s capabilities? AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  5. 5. Background Questionnaire scales in food sensory research  There are many different types of question scales used in food sensory research, and the standard 9pt scale (below) is the most widely used scale for measuring food liking in adults.  However, this language...“I dislike it extremely”....”I like it extremely”...”neither like nor dislike it” not easily understood by children, and it doesn’t label every scale point 1 Dislike extremely 2 3 4 5 Neither like nor dislike 6 7 8 9 Like extremely AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  6. 6. Background Questionnaire scales in food sensory research 1. P&K liking scale for children  Developed by Peyram and Kroll (USA) for semi-literate children 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Super bad Really bad Bad Just a little bad Maybe good or maybe bad Just a little good Good Really good Super good Uses child-oriented language and labels every scale point AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  7. 7. Background Because language is sometimes difficult for children, researchers have ‘kidified’ words by using scales such as the P&K scale.  The P&K scale was designed for semi-literate children (Kroll 1990)  Language is child-oriented and all the scale points are labelled for clarity.  But, is this what kids really mean in 2010?  In using this scale it would be important to adapt the language to the vernacular.  Some kids at school today are using the word “random” to mean something is really bad or really good, or “sick” to describe something as really cool. So we have to be careful with language. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  8. 8. Background Questionnaire scales in food sensory research 2. Facial scale for children • Expressions represent degree of dislike or like Angry, Sad or Dislike? • Perhaps more applicable today due to widespread use of emoticons? AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  9. 9. Background Because reading or language may be a barrier, research has been conducted with the use of picture scales, such as the facial scale.  Expressions on faces or cartoons represent the degree of like or dislike...(Child: “Why would I be sad about chocolate?”)  The scale has a long history of use in food sensory research on children, but has been criticised due to it’s emotional element because kids respond to the pictures based on what they show (sad/happy), rather than what they represent –dislike or like.  Perhaps more merits to this scale than currently recognised, however – growing recognition of the role of emotions in decision making.  Also, the widespread use of emoticons by children might make facial scales more relevant today. However, their meanings are open to interpretation and would require further investigation. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  10. 10. Background Questionnaire scales in food sensory research 3. Star scale for children  Number of stars represent degree of dislike or like Dislike a lot Like a lot Rewarding stars for more liked products AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  11. 11. Background  Researchers have also looked at what children do at school...   This star scale has been recommended above others by food sensory specialists and has been used in Australian firms for many years.  Stars represent grades/rewards, similar to those that are awarded at school for good work.   And ask them to mark how much they like things using a reward type system (Child: “Do I still get my money if I don’t like it?) However, we should be cautious that using this scale we don’t place children in a school classroom where they may tend to acquiesce. So what about what they do when at play? AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  12. 12. The Study Research Objectives  Which types of questions would perform best with children?  Would interactive or computer/video game inspired methods create a world that was as immersive, leading to better quality data?  Could we make being a part of research a more fun and enjoyable experience, like playing a game? AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  13. 13. Research Methodology Over 500 Australian children aged between 7 and 10 years old participated in the online study (June 2010) over 3 stages:  Stage 1: N=97   Traditional questionnaire We tested 3 different approaches and 4 questionnaire scales   Essentially a plain, ‘black & white’ questionnaire placed online All question scales were rotated within each stage to avoid positional bias, and the questions remained the same across the stages.  At each stage, we asked children about how much they liked different foods and flavours, which were also rotated.  Warm-up questions were also asked to ensure kids had a chance to learn how to use the questionnaire scales.  Non-interactive, no Flash AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  14. 14. Research Methodology Stage 1: Traditional The traditional questionnaire was essentially, a plain ‘black and white’ questionnaire placed online. It was non-interactive and had no Flash elements. Dislike a lot Like a lot AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  15. 15. Research Methodology Over 500 Australian children aged between 7 and 10 years old participated in the online study (June 2010):  Stage 1: N=97  Stage 2: N=167  Traditional questionnaire  Interactive questionnaire  Essentially a plain, ‘black & white’ questionnaire placed online  Graphically enhanced audio-visually interactive question scales   Non-interactive, no Flash  Flash technology on GMI Interactive   The next was an interactive approach, where question scales were enhanced by audiovisual elements. Each of the interactive scales had matching visual and sound effects. This was designed using Flash Technology on GMI Interactive AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  16. 16. Research Methodology Over 500 Australian children aged between 7 and 10 years old participated in the online study (June 2010):  Stage 1: N=97  Stage 2: N=167  Stage 3: N=248  Traditional questionnaire  Interactive questionnaire  Interactive & gaming questionnaire  Essentially a plain, ‘black & white’ questionnaire placed online  Graphically enhanced audio-visually interactive question scales  Avatar-like character  Non-interactive, no Flash  Flash technology on GMI Interactive  Graphically enhanced audio-visually interactive question scales  Flash technology on GMI Interactive And finally, an interactive and gaming approach, where kids had to create a character as they would in a role playing computer game before being launched into an simulated world. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  17. 17. Research Methodology Stage 3: Interactive & Gaming Please Visit this link if you would like to view an example of the interactive gaming! AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  18. 18. Findings Which scale performed the best?  All 4 question scales performed similarly in terms of discriminating power and range of scale used:   We thought that there would be more discrimination and range in responses on scales adapted especially for children, such as the star, facial or P&K scales, and we thought that these scales would perform best.   To compare the scales, we looked at the results from Stage 1, the traditional questionnaire format, as there were no interactive or gaming elements to distract. Using different measures of scale performance, we found that each question scale performed equally in discrimination power and range, which was surprising. Even a slight advantage to the standard liking scale for adults AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  19. 19. Findings 8 7 6 Taste of Lemon Taste of Cinnamon Taste of Peanut Butter Gingerbread Wholegrain savoury snack Orange Colour Taste of Mint Honey Green Colour Savoury snack Milk Bread Water White choc half coat Double choc half coat Taste of Chocolate 5 4     Stage1Star Stage1Smiley Stage19pt Stage1P&K Ice Cream Mean liking/9 9 Results shown here are the liking scores for the products in the traditional questionnaire. We chose foods and flavours that we thought would produce a range of positive, neutral and negative responses. Ice cream and chocolate as expected were well liked, whilst lemon and cinnamon were disliked. These responses were similar across the 3 stages of research, indicating there was little influence from the use of different approaches.  The interactive and gaming elements appeared to have little influence on these results, which is POSITIVE because the fun elements didn’t affect the core results. So ice cream wasn’t liked more just because it was a question asked while their 10 9 11 12 7 1 8 13 2 6 5 16 15 17 character stood on 14 beach..3 the 4 AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  20. 20. Findings Which approach was the easiest and most fun?  Kids found each approach and scale easy and fun to use  E A S Y F U N P&K P&K Visual scales were generally seen as easier and even more fun to use P&K Standard Standard Standard P&K P&K P&K Standard Standard Standard AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  21. 21. Findings Why did children rate everything as fun?  Were these results affected by the tendency for children to acquiesce?  Were the scales in fact, not as fun as we expected them to be for these kids?  These children spent up to an hour a day on the internet...  What we thought was an engaging and fun environment may not be as exciting as where they play AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  22. 22. Findings 1. Consistency of responses  A number of consistency questions were used to check whether children were paying attention at different stages during the questionnaire.  The first question was about how many brothers and sisters they had.  Most children answered these questions consistently at the beginning and end of the questionnaire at every stage. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  23. 23. Findings 2. Ability to follow instructions  The second consistency question was to see if they were paying attention to instructions. We asked them to click on a particular point on the scale....  However, the fun elements were somewhat distracting...   When children were asked to follow instructions in the interactive (stage 2) and interactive-gaming stage (stage 3), they didn’t follow instructions (more failed this exercise) and there were more inconsistent answers Perhaps kids struggle with instructions when distracted? Children appeared to play with their answers. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  24. 24. Next steps  Type of question scales used in children’s research may be less important...  Whilst scales have been debated extensively, they are only one aspect of the research approach   All scales performed as well as each other Perhaps we need to move beyond scale research, and explore asking children to make choices AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  25. 25. Next steps  Researchers may need to investigate other ways to gather better quality information from children...  Technology has progressed to enable collection of better depth of information, such as through online discussion boards and communities  Technology is progressing to enable collection of different types of information, such as biometric data (recognition of the role of emotions in decision making). AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  26. 26. Next steps  If a child’s job is to play, should let them?  Problem with acquiescence in children may be avoided by being online  But, did we introduce new research effects?  Interactive and gaming elements distracted from the main focus  Children played with their answers when we created a playful environment, which may not be what we want in research AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  27. 27. References Balogh,M., 2002.Cracking the kids marketing code, B&T, 2002 [, accessed 22.01.10] Brand, J.,Borchard, J. And Holmes, K. 2009. Interactive Australia, 2009.National Research prepared by Bond University for the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia. Bryant, J. A., Weinberg, L., Levine, B., Jacobs, D. and Massoudian, M., 2009. Inspiring Change: Innovative Methods and Integrated Advertising. Online Research, Part 1, ESOMAR 2009. Cape, P. 2009. Questionnaire Length, fatigue Effects and Response Quality Revisited. Survey Sampling International. Chambers, E IV. 2005. Conducting Sensory Research with Children: A Commentary. J. Sensory Studies. 20: 90-92. Cooper, H., 2002. Designing successful diagnostic scales for children. Presented at Ann. Mtg. Institute o f Food Technologists, Anaheim, CA, June 15-19. Covey, N., 2007. Connected Kids: Trends in Youth Gaming. ARF Youth Council, 21 August, 2007. The Nielsen Company. Cranmer, S. and Ulicsak, M., 2010. Gaming in Families, Final Report, Futurelab, United Kingdom. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  28. 28. References C&R Research, 2009. YouthBeat, KidzBeat Magazine Winter. Damasio, 1994. Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. Fliegelman, A., Metx, P., and McIlrath, M., 2004. The ABC’s of Conducting Effective Market Research with Kids. C&R Research. Published in Media Research Club of Chicago (MRCC), June 2004. Franco, C., 2010. Popular Online Games: new insight from European Research, WARC Geraci, J.C. 2004. What Do Youth Marketers Think About Selling to Kids? Harris Interactive. Published in Media Research Club of Chicago (MRCC), June 2004. Gladwell, M., 2001. The Tipping Point, Abacus, London, UK. Guinard, J.X., 2001. Sensory and consumer testing with children. Trends in Food Science and Technology, 11(8), 273–283. Kroll, B. J., 1990. Evaluating rating scales for sensory testing with young children. Food Technology, 44, 78–86. Nairn, A., 2009. Protection or Participation? Getting research ethics right for children in the digital age, ESOMAR Congress. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  29. 29. References Lawless, H. T., Popper, R. And Kroll, B. J. 2010. A comparison of the labelled magnitude (LAM) scale, an 11-point category scale and the traditional 9-point hedonic scale. Food Quality and Preference 21 (2010): 4-12. Popper, R., & Kroll, J. J., 2005. Issues and viewpoints conducting sensory research with children. Journal of sensory studies, 20(1), 75–87. Also published in Food Technology, May 2003 Vol 57:5, 60-65. Popper, R. And Kroll, J.J. 2003. Conducting Sensory Research with Children. Food Technology, Vol. 57:5, 60-65. Schraidt, M.F., 2009. Testing with Children: Getting Reliable Information from Kids. Peyram & Kroll Research Corporation (, accessed April, 2010) Sleep, D. And Puleston, J., 2009. Leveraging interactive techniques to engage online respondents, Engage Research and GMI Interactive. Solomon, D. and Peters, J., 2005. Resolving Issues in children’s research. Young Consumers, Quarter 4, World Advertising Research Center, 68-73. Ubrick, B. (2002). Kids have great taste: An update to sensory work with children. Presented at Ann. Mtg. Institute of Food Technologists, Anaheim, CA, June 15-19. Zeinstra, G.G, Koelen, M.A., Colindres, D., Kok, F.J.. de Graaf, C., 2009. Facial expressions in school-aged children are a good indicator of ‘dislikes’, but not of ‘likes’. Food Quality and Preference 20 (2009): 620–624. AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010
  30. 30. Thank You Lets Connect! Erica van Lieven Managing Director November 2013 Linked in: Twitter: @erica_dfirst Email: AMSRS NATIONAL CONFERENCE 2010