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Taste Test Learnings

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Interesting taste test over the weekend with 78 random shoppers in the Cruelty Free Shop...

The main goal was to test a new prototype, but ended up learning a bit more which I thought would be good to share here with our community...

1/ First - the overall taste rating of the choc ball was encouraging with over 3 in 4 rating it as good, and just under 1 in 4 rating it as ok. Around 3% rated us as bad.

This is interesting given it was a more even split between good and ok when we did a survey online (very few rated as bad).

However I think that's because the people who rushed for the first launch to buy were those people attracted by the viral vegan malteser message many of the launch shops included, when we don't have malt and are a rice crisp core. "I like it but wasn't what I was expecting" came up a bit..

Reinforcing this conclusion is the fact that the blok (bar) got better results in the online survey even though it uses the same ingredients in a different form factor - so it seems to be an expectation thing with the first folks trying the ball (rather than say due to a major bias problem with in person vs remote test) So that's great to know and we can adjust positioning going forward if we stick to the original formulation.

2/ Also this is reinforced by the learning that most people doing this test over the weekend _hadn't_ heard of the ball before (so assume less expectations and more willing to judge on taste). Only 20% had heard of the ball before, which is less than I expected. Though initially a bit of a gut punch, that's actually a good thing, meaning we have a lot more room (and work to do) to grow awareness and customer base...

3/ Even less people had heard of the bar. Actually only 5% (!) had heard of or tried the bar before the test. Yet the people who do try it rate the taste very high (and it's an amazing price, probably one of if not the lowest for a milky vegan choc bar in Australia). So, a lot of work to do there. This will be an interesting challenge without an ad or sponsorship budget... have to put our thinking hats on...

4/ We also tried out the original ball vs a new prototype with an adjusted core, with a recipe changing some ingredients and including some barley and malt. This was done "blind", not disclosing which was which or differences between them. Also orders were reversed for half of shoppers to unbias any order effects...

5/ ...however after doing that, the majority, nearly 70% still preferred the original. I think this is partly due to the new prototype being quite rough- core was a bit too dry and hard, and less smooth and melty. Also the malt/barley taste was very subtle (only 1 out of the shoppers picked up on the difference).

I think I might try to do one more round of iteration on the prototype and try again, but we can't take too long in the process as we're already halfway through selling our ball stock from batch 1 (much faster than expected) and given production leadtimes I need to lock in batch 2 soon or risk having a major period of no stock, which would be a real problem particularly as we start to get into the larger chains.

If an updated prototype doesn't outperform the original, that's still ok as the original performs pretty well if expectations are set correctly, which we can work on through packaging tweaks as well as giving more communicating guidelines to retail partners (well, that's the theory - we'll see how that goes in reality...)

6/ Have included the actual raw results from the test, you can see I switched between 1 and 2 and A and B, so I could mix the ordering fairly evenly...

Anyway... learn and iterate.. rinse and repeat 🤓


ps - huge thanks to all the team from The Cruelty Free Shop who have been very accommodating and supportive of the project!