Discover: Sauces

Based on preliminary research in China that pointed to strong consumer interest in eating alternative cuisine, our client had developed some prototype products that could be prepared simply at home.

The client was keen to understand how Chinese consumers would actually use this new type of product given their limited experience of western foods. What ingredients would they use? How would they cook it? Would they adapt it by adding their own seasonings and flavourings?


MMR felt that it was important to capture the consumer’s end-to-end experience with the product in real time rather than via a diary, so arranged for a small research team to spend a day with each study participant.

By visiting consumers at home, we also had the opportunity to acquire deeper insight into daily meal preparation and identify challenges presented by the ‘real’ kitchen environment. We were able to see the types of utensils, equipment and ingredients on hand, and observe consumer reactions to the client’s product. The interviewer was able to ask the consumer exactly what he/she was doing and why at every step.


Our approach uncovered some unique but deeply engrained behaviours that might have been missed by conventional research methods as these were taken for granted by consumers.

Furthermore, we found that there was a fundamental disconnect between the notion of preparing an ‘alternative’ dish and the use of Chinese cooking methods and equipment, such as stir frying in a wok. Our recommendation was to reinforce the alternative cues through the flavours, specific recipe ideas and other communication about the products.

Client Action

The client's NPD team followed our guidelines on recipe development, particularly with respect to the tendency of Chinese consumers to ‘tweak’ recipes using familiar local seasonings such as soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, garlic, etc.


Further product testing and co-creation research is being planned to take forward some new recipes designed specifically for the Chinese market.

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