Givaudan and Thimus advance understanding of consumer preferences through neuroscience

The collaboration will unlock food emotions and offer a new window into the consumer mind

Givaudan has announced an agreement with neuroscience company Thimus, the developer of the TBox platform that provides an integrated collection of explicit and implicit data for exploring how humans experience food. Givaudan’s collaboration with Thimus is the first extensive use of the TBox platform in the world of food, resulting in Givaudan’s new programme, Food Emotions powered by Thimus. The agreement adds to Givaudan’s growing set of digital capabilities designed to deliver consumer insights and shape the future of food.

Food products are being redesigned to meet new expectations and sustainability, health, quality and emotion are crucial considerations in this re-invention. Understanding and responding to consumer preferences has never been more important, but there is often a gap between what consumers say and their actual experience and behaviour. Neuroscience may be the key to closing that gap. A portable tool developed by Thimus is used to gain a fuller understanding of the consumer experience.

In addition to only 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 then processed by validated algorithms to measure four key mental states including frontal asymmetry, engagement, cognitive workload and relaxation. Using Thimus’ software and a cloud-based database for data analysis and retrieval, the tool is able to deliver insights that were previously unavailable or unreliable.

“Neuroscience has the unique ability to reveal how consumers truly feel about a product throughout the eating or drinking experience,” explained Fabio Campanile, global head of science and technology for taste and wellbeing at Givaudan. “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 used the Thimus technology extensively in several customer projects with successful results. For example, Givaudan used Thimus technology in recent consumer tests on botanical soft drinks, comparing two prototypes. The results revealed that consumers implicitly found one concept significantly more satisfying than the other. The implicit data gathered from Thimus pinpointed a negative reaction during the taste phase in the second product. The team was then able to identify a route to optimise the soft drink by improving mouthfeel. In this instance, the problem and its resolution could not have been uncovered by examining declarative data alone.

The technology will gradually be rolled out within Givaudan and will be available for selective customer use in some regions.