Multisensory perception processes and consumer behavior

Neural structures in multisense research
© / selvanegra

Research into the perception of consumer goods and commodities

Which sensory stimuli determine whether food tastes good to us? What does a product need to smell like in order to awaken positive feelings in us? And what should the packaging feel like in order to make us buy the product?

There are numerous sensory factors influencing whether and why customers choose to buy a product. In everyday life, products provide stimulation for consumers as a whole multisensory experience, rather than operating simply via a single sensory system. Our Applied Multisensory Systems research group investigates multisensory perception of products using novel stimulation scenarios. We make use of automated odor and flavor stimulation as well as the simultaneous presence of other stimuli, including visual, haptic and auditory types. We complement established, subjective measurement methods (e.g. standardized questionnaires, sensory evaluations) with innovative, objective measurement methods (e.g. physiology & fMRI). The combination of objective and subjective methods enables conclusions to be drawn about conscious and unconscious (automatic) processes in humans that cause aversion or preference toward certain product characteristics – and ultimately have an impact on buying decisions.

Our methods are consistently aligned with the results of the latest studies. Through our research, this means that we can deliver important insights into a range of industrial areas, such as developing and optimizing food and luxury consumables, beverages, animal feed, cosmetics, personal and home care products, and packaging.

Our services for optimal multisensory product perception

Product development and optimization

We optimize the overall sensory impression of your product and create new developments:

  • Depiction of the overall perception of your product through multisensory stimulation scenarios
  • Objective assessment of the overall sensory impression of your product
  • Product optimization using a skillful combination of different sensory impressions (such as odor, shape and color)

Product acceptance & buying behavior

We determine the impact of sensory properties on consumers and their subjective response:

  • Hedonic sensory evaluation using naive test subjects
  • Physiological measurements in order to identify unconscious physical responses (such as heart rate, skin conductance and tracking facial expressions and eye movements)
  • Development of a customized system consisting of psychological tests and experiments

Consumer behavior

We help you carve out a long-term position for your product on the market:


  • Assessment of the effect of products on consumers with neuroimaging (EEG and fMRI)
  • Determination of emotions, memories as well as motivation and valence in connection with the product
  • Derivation of conclusions about the consumer's purchase decision

We work with you to develop products for all the senses.

Ways to use our multisensory services

Our research methods can be applied to all raw materials and products and are used in a wide variety of product categories. Get an overview of the application possibilities we can offer you in the field of multisensory perception processes and consumer behavior.


Food, luxury consumables, beverages, animal feed

Multisensory: Food - Optimization of beverages
© / 5PH
Multisensory: Food - Optimization of stimulants
© / fcafotodigital

The desire for prosperity and constant access to food is presenting today’s society with new challenges. Fast food consumption and frequent visits to restaurants stand in opposition to many people’s efforts to maintain a diet that is as healthy and balanced as possible. However, these efforts are also associated with feelings that a sacrifice has to be made – that there is less enjoyment in eating and a constant need to monitor intake.

The work undertaken by our Applied Multisensory Systems research group focuses on precisely this point of conflict and the idea that healthy nutrition should be a source of enjoyment rather than a chore. We take a holistic approach to optimizing food, with the aim of creating healthier sources of nutrition that have the same taste experience. We also incorporate luxury items, beverages and animal feed into our research.

Our services in the area of multisensory food optimization:

Flavour & Fragrances

Cosmetics, body care, home care, spa products, room fragrances, scented candles, essential oils

Multisensory: Flavour & Fragrances - Optimization of Personal Care Products
© / Liudmila Chernetska
Multisensory: Flavour & Fragrances - Optimization of Home Care Products
© / Dahin

Many of today’s consumers want personal and home care products to create a calming, refreshing, relaxing or concentration-boosting effect in order to trigger an enhanced sense of well-being. Shower gel, for example, can create a reinvigorating feeling in a morning shower and new laundry detergent can maintain long-lasting freshness in textiles. For companies, this means designing new and existing products in a way that allows them to have a demonstrably positive impact and create a pleasant feeling in consumers. We help companies optimize and develop products by designing customized tests, and we identify the right flavors and fragrances for our customers’ products.

Our flavors and fragrances services:

Well-being in indoor locations and means of transport

Climate technology companies, automotive manufacturers, travel companies, hotel industry

Multisensory: Well-being in indoor spaces - Hotel industry
© / Dan Gold
Modern car interior
© FGorgun/

Creating a sense of well-being for people in indoor locations – including restaurants, offices, cars or planes – involves a range of sensory perceptions working together. Alongside visual and auditory effects, thermal parameters and odors in the environment have a key role to play, as the right room temperature will create an atmosphere in which customers are more likely to make purchases, and pleasant odors will make them feel more comfortable. As experts in multisensory experiences, we therefore consider the full range of sensory influences that have an impact on consumers, and we develop holistic strategies to enhance well-being for people in indoor locations and means of transport.

Our well-being services:

  • Developing and optimizing functional fragrances (such as calming or reinvigorating fragrances) for indoor locations
  • Optimizing odor applications and making specific recommendations on where to position odor dispensing systems (in order to mask the smell of a new car, for example)
  • Observing interactions between olfactory sensations and other sensory influences
  • Optimizing climate control in indoor locations and identifying other thermal parameters and their impact on well-being
  • Determining the impact of psychological parameters on human perception (e.g., a sense of control)

Multisensory packaging

Packaging for food and animal feed, packaging for cosmetics, body care and home care, product packaging

Cans as an example of multisensory packaging optimization.
© LauriPatterson
Product Performance: Multisensory packaging
© / Fototocam

The primary function of packaging is to protect products – but from a sensory neuroscience perspective, it can serve many other purposes too. Packaging speaks to every human sense, causing it to have a direct impact on consumer behavior. Ideally, packaging should immediately communicate some of the key characteristics of the product inside it: a crinkling bag of chips suggests something fresh and crisp, while biolabels and Nutri-Score labels, for example, provide important information about what is inside the packaging. For this reason, our Applied Multisensory Systems research group looks at every sensory parameter that packaging communicates, and helps companies to develop multisensory packaging that provides consumers with the very best product experience.

Our multisensory packaging services:

  • Holistic sensory development of packaging
  • Developing packaging using a skillful combination of haptic, visual and auditory influences
  • Masking off-odors using pleasant scents
  • Measuring psychophysiological responses to multisensory stimuli and predicting behavior
  • Developing and testing packaging through our Packaging business unit
  • Assessing the impact of marketing claim design on consumers (color, font and choice of words, for example) 

Current research projects in the field of Multisensory perception


Research project »PhysioToolbox«

Development of a digital toolbox for objective measurement of response to scents and other sensory perceptual effects.

Research project »Whiskey«

Optimized whiskey blending: A project aiming at digitalizing taste and odor metrics to predict whiskey flavors.

Cooperation project »Campus of the senses«

A joint project of the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV and the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS.