Our client was a global takeaway pizza chain, with stores in more than 60 countries and over a thousand sites in the UK alone (including franchises). In the UK, 81 new stores opened in 2016 and like-for-like sales increased by 7.5%, leading to profits of more than £86 million.

New Government guidelines meant the chain had a need to reduce the salt levels in their BBQ sauce due so they went about creating a new recipe with less added salt and sugar. They understood that the flavour would change slightly, but wanted to make sure that it did not affect customers’ intent to purchase, or decrease their enjoyment of the sauce or the pizza.

FIS utilised its research panel to conduct two blind taste tests – one of the sauce on its own, and one of the sauce as a base on a slice of pizza. We gave panellists samples of the current product and the new product development (NPD), then asked them to rate each on a hedonic scale from ‘dislike extremely’ to ‘like extremely’. We also asked for comments on each, as well intent to purchase and whether they could tell the difference between the samples.

The research by FIS allowed the client to discover whether the new product would impact on sales, and if so, what needed to be done to improve it before bringing to market. In this instance, it was shown that although customers could tell the difference between the current and NPD samples, they would still buy the new recipe product and in fact found it more enjoyable. This gave the client the confidence to launch without concern. It was a real privilege to be working with such a large and prestigious company, and to see the knock-on impact across a thousand stores in the UK.