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Givaudan and Thimus use neuroscience to better understand consumer preference

Today, Givaudan announced an agreement with neuroscience company Thimus to “unlock food emotions and offer a new window into the consumer mind”. Thimus is the developer of the TBox platform, which provides an integrated collection of explicit and implicit data for exploring how humans experience food. The collaboration is said to be the “first extensive use of the TBox platform in the world of food,” resulting in Givaudan’s new programme, ‘Food Emotions’ powered by Thimus. As food products are redesigned to meet new expectations, sustainability, health, quality and emotion are crucial considerations. In a statement, Givaudan said: “There’s often a gap between what consumers say and their actual experience and behaviour. Neuroscience may be the key to closing that gap.” In addition to having consumers participate in a focus group or answer a questionnaire, Thimus’ TBox provides participants with a headset to wear during taste tests. The headset records brain signals, which are processed by validated algorithms to measure four key mental states: frontal asymmetry, engagement, cognitive workload and relaxation. The technology uses proprietary software and a cloud-based database for data analysis and retrieval and is able to deliver insights that were “previously unavailable or unreliable”. Fabio Campanile, global head of science and technology for taste and wellbeing at Givaudan, said: “Neuroscience has the unique ability to reveal how consumers truly feel about a product throughout the eating or drinking experience. The collaboration with Thimus marks a significant milestone in consumer understanding. It has the power to revolutionise how we co-create with our customers, increasingly satisfying consumers, and transforming the way the world eats while enabling more nutritious food choices." Thimus’ founder and CEO, Mario Ubiali, added: “We were immediately excited about the prospect of working with Givaudan because we see such a strong alignment in our missions of transforming food systems through a food experience lens. At Thimus, we’re humanising neuroscience and using it to redesign the foods we eat. We’re eager to support Givaudan in gaining an in-depth understanding of the motivations, culture and emotions that underlie these experiences.” Givaudan has already used the Thimus technology in several customer projects with “very successful” results. For example, Givaudan used the technology in recent consumer tests on botanical soft drinks, comparing two prototypes. According to Givaudan, the results revealed that consumers found one concept significantly more satisfying than the other. The implicit data gathered from Thimus was used to pinpoint a negative reaction during the taste phase in the second product. This meant that the team was then able to identify a successful route to optimise the soft drink by improving mouthfeel. Givaudan says that in this instance, the problem and its resolution could not have been uncovered by examining declarative data alone. The technology will be rolled out within Givaudan and will be available for selective customer use in some regions.

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