In a world of fast moving decisions and limited resources, we are often asked to pick one thing over another based on our preference. It is quite common for me to ask my daughter to pick one type of candy to have for dessert. It is quite uncommon for her to say anything other than, “I want both!” Conversely, if I ask her to pick between green beans or zucchini for a side at dinner, she will answer, “I’ll take either.”
As food industry professionals, we may use preference questions to identify a winning formulation or determine which of a number of products to take to market. In this instance we will use hedonic scales (likability scales) to address multiple aspects of the items like appearance, aroma, flavor, texture, and overall acceptability - and then ask our preference question between two samples. Asking panelists to pick one item over the other seems key for the objective of picking a winning product. But what if the formulations are liked the same by panelists? How would we ever know?