The multi-sensorial aspect of freshness


According to the Taste Tomorrow survey, freshness defines consumers’ perception of quality. Scent, baking time, a short shelf life, look & crunchiness all play a key role in this. To determine product freshness, consumers use all their senses: smell, sight and touch. This multi-sensorial aspect of freshness is also acknowledged by International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF). Dirk Goedhart, Marketing Manager and Aksana Sotnikava, Principal Sensory & Consumer Insights Researcher, share their thoughts in this article. 

Using uncommon sense to create the best flavours and fragrances
International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) is one of the biggest and most creative producers of flavours and fragrances in the world. They put science and artistry to work to create unique and unexpected scents, tastes, experiences and ingredients for products that the world craves. 

Freshness in bakery is multi-faceted
The multi-sensorial aspect of freshness that was revealed by the Taste Tomorrow survey is also recognised by IFF. Both a consumer online survey*1 and qualitative research*2 (focus groups, conducted by IFF Sensory & Consumer Insights team) showed similar results. Aksana Sotnikava, Principal Sensory & Consumer Insights Researcher at IFF: “The research revealed that freshness in bakery is not delivered by one product aspect (like crunchy texture), but is experienced in a multi-faceted interaction of various product characteristics: appearance, smell, texture, taste, sound (e.g. crackling of baguette). Moreover, freshness experience is also strongly associated with certain emotions, atmospheres and moments of consumption (feeling energised, or nostalgic, or free, etc.).”

 The multi-sensorial aspect of freshness

The concept of freshness is not a simple point in time
Sotnikava adds an interesting vision to these findings: “We believe the concept of freshness is not a simple point in time. It travels from one point (moment of truth) to the next as consumers make judgements about the state of freshness of a food product. These moments of truth are promotions/trends/communication, packaging, product experience (sensory and emotional) and post-use experience (repeated purchase). At each moment of truth, consumers use different senses to make their judgements. Hence, brands need to deliver on all of these moments of truth in order to be perceived as fresh by consumers.”

Freshness in bakery is also multi-faceted
IFF's proprietary research with European consumers also revealed that there is not one dominating, all-encompassing driver of freshness in bakery. Dirk Goedhart, IFF’s marketing manager: “We found that freshness is multi-faceted. It means different things to different people. Hence, it should be approached as a total ‘freshness experience’ where product characteristics, consumers’ needs & feelings and consumption occasions all come together.”

The multi-sensorial aspect of freshness

Giving 300 people a multi-sensorial freshness experience
To make this come alive, IFF took 300 guests at a Taste Tomorrow event in Barcelona on a multi-sensorial freshness experience. Goedhart explains: “We invited them to open their senses, open their mind and open their taste buds. We showed them in our own special way what it is that IFF can bring to the table when it comes to freshness in bakery.”

This was done by setting up two entirely different experience rooms. “Each room featured its own menu of next-generation, freshly baked bakery treats prepared by our chefs. The scent of freshly cut grass or freshly roasted coffee was dispensed as a fragrance, videowalls showed customised videos to support the vibe of each room, and all 300 guests were given headsets with customised music soundtracks from start to finish.”

The multi-sensorial aspect of freshness

Proof of the multi-sensorial aspect of freshness in bakery
By setting up shop in this very specific way, IFF managed to stimulate all five senses in a short time frame: hearing, seeing, touching, smelling and of course tasting. All this aimed to convey the multi-sensorial aspect of freshness in bakery.

The experiment was successful and very interesting. “Our guests visited our ‘urban coffeeshop breakfast experience’ or our ‘outdoor lunch experience’ – two radically different set-ups in terms of both content and vibe. This way, they could experience for themselves that freshness in bakery is an incredibly multi-faceted concept which can be achieved when approached holistically and correctly.”

The multi-sensorial aspect of freshness


Are you curious to learn more about the freshness trend? Find out all about it in the freshness trend explanation, or discover three inspiring concepts that preserve and radiate freshness.


*1) The online survey was conducted by IFF in 2015 amongst 825 US & UK consumers aged between 18 and 44 years old.

*2) Qualitative research (focus groups), conducted by IFF Sensory & Consumer Insights team in UK, NL and ESP in 2019.