Building consumer insights into new product development: GSK Consumer Healthcare launches new European Consumer Sensory Lab

GSK Consumer Healthcare, one of the world's largest consumer healthcare companies, has launched a new Consumer Sensory Lab, the latest in a series of innovations to better understand the daily needs of consumers.

The Lab, located at GSK’s UK headquarters in London, aims to understand consumers’ sensory preferences, working alongside the existing Shopper Science Lab to understand consumer preferences and behaviours throughout the product development process, all the way to the bathroom cabinet.

The location of both Labs in one facility is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe and reinforces GSK Consumer Healthcare’s commitment to the pursuit of innovation, performance and trust, as announced by CEO Emma Walmsley earlier this year.

The Consumer Sensory Lab will test a broad range of products, using state of the art eye-tracking devices, facial and skin biometric monitoring systems and recording devices.

Through doing so, GSK Consumer Healthcare’s dedicated team of sensory and consumer scientists can assess a range of conscious and subconscious reactions to products during the development process and use this data to quickly translate insights into both product improvement and new product development.

A dedicated 12-person consumer panel, whittled down from more than 200 applicants and selected for their elite sensory perception, have undergone up to six months of training to ensure they can provide detailed feedback on the taste, texture, smell, and other properties of everyday healthcare products such as toothpaste and cough syrup.

Products will be tested by the panel during eight weekly sessions, meaning that consumer preferences will be incorporated throughout the product development process.

Dave Barrett, Country Manager GSK Consumer Healthcare Ireland, said:

We are delighted to launch our Consumer Sensory Lab which will help us understand the needs of consumers both in Ireland and Europe more widely in a way that simply wasn’t possible before when using household products. An immense amount of product testing goes on behind the scenes here each day and the Consumer Sensory Lab, working in tandem with our Shopper Science Lab, allows us to understand the needs of consumers all the way from the lab bench to first use. This is the first time both facilities have operated on the same site and we believe they will provide substantial consumer insight – both for existing and developing products – which will allow us to refine the items we offer for many years to come.

GSK has a similar facility in New Jersey, USA, where the Consumer Sensory Lab has led to changes across a range of product lines. This dedicated capability of consumer and sensory understanding has led to new breakthrough innovations. For example, research identified that consumers experience burning sensation when they have heartburn and desire a cooling effect to soothe this. The Sensory and Product development teams worked together to take this insight and develop cooling technologies that could be used in an antacid. The findings fed directly into ENO Cooling Powder, available in both Latin America and Asia, which now delivers on strong sensory-based claims like “fast/ instant cooling.”

Along with the combined Consumer Sensory, Shopper Science and Research & Development Lab in New Jersey, there is also a Shopper Science Lab set up in the GSK Asia House in Singapore.