Currently almost 90% of the new food products that are launched disappear from the market within one year. One of the main reasons for this high failure rate is the underestimation of the role that situational factors play in food choice. To enable a better prediction of endurable success of new food and drink items in the market, observation of consumers in specific situations is indispensable. This conclusion led to the design and construction of a highly advanced facility for research on food-related behavior in an indoor setting: the ‘Restaurant of the Future’ in Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Restaurant of the Future
The Restaurant of the Future was a unique environment in which scientists and marketeers could observe restaurant frequenters in conditioned situations for prolonged periods of time with the help of state-of-the-art observation and sensory technology. This research included behavior, food choice, design and layout, the influence on buying and eating behavior of lighting, presentation, traffic flow, taste, packaging, preparation, and countless other aspects involving out of home eating and drinking. The Restaurant of the Future comprised two parts:
- Company restaurant - Open to the general public, on the condition that all visitors register. Camera set-ups could be adjusted to satisfy nearly any research requirements. Even environmental aspects such as color and lighting could be manipulated for research purposes.
- Sensory consumer research lab - Used by businesses to assess their products - under various circumstances - for smell, color, and taste. This lab contained four different parts: an innovation lab, for testing food innovations, a sensory lab, for panel research, mood rooms, for testing environmental influences on eating and drinking behavior, and a state-of-the-art psychophysical lab.
The Restaurant of the Future has been a cooperative project of scientists from Wageningen University, the catering company Sodexo, professional kitchen supplier Kampri Group, and Noldus. A unique blend that ensured unique results! Noldus has provided the Restaurant of the Future with the latest computer and video technologies, including The Observer XT for visualization and analysis of consumer behavior, cameras, PC’s, and microphones. Noldus also took care of the complete on-site installation and training of the researchers who are conducting the consumer behavior investigations. Furthermore, Noldus has committed itself to ongoing research on novel tools for consumer behavior studies, which will involve testing of prototypes and validation studies.
The Restaurant of the Future demonstrated how Noldus hardware and software tools can be put to optimal use for the study of consumer behavior.
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