Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Colruyt Group has a long tradition of testing products. The first tests date back to the 1970s. Recently, the group developed a scientifically proven test method, certified by the independent Quality Control institute. To date, this method has been used to test almost half (1,300) of the private label products. 9 out of 10 products have successfully passed the stringent taste and use tests. For the remaining products, consultations are ongoing with the suppliers to make adjustments before the products appear on store shelves. Of these, around 60 improved products are already in the shops.
“The taste and use tests, together with the sustainability of our brands in the areas of health, the environment, animal welfare and social issues, are a top priority. Since 2014, we have been researching the nutritional compositions of our own brands and improving them where necessary. For example, in the context of health we removed 132 tons of sugar, 106 tons of fat and 140 tons of salt from our private label products over the past year and added 6 tons of fibre. However, this also has an impact on taste. Because the products still need to be delicious and user-friendly, we now carry out taste and use tests continuously. The rationale in doing this is to respond to the constantly evolving taste of consumers, according to Stefan Goethaert, director of Colruyt Group Fine Food, who is responsible for the production and quality units of the group.
Representative and large-scale
Of the 3,500 Boni Selection, Everyday and Spar private label products, 1,300 products have been tested. These tests were carried out by 50,000 consumers, of which there were 4,500 home testers, 1,350 testers in the Colruyt Group test labs and 44,000 testers via mobile tests on-site at store locations. Every year, 25 full-time employees spend 45,000 working hours testing the Boni Selection, Everyday and Spar ranges on consumers. A team of 10 sales staff actively support them with these activities.
“Specifically, consumers blindly compare our own brand products with comparable products from competitors. Each product is tested by at least 60 people in our labs. As a result, our tests are representative of the Belgian population. To ensure we don't compare apples with pears, we use comparable products and also ensure that the testers are the type of people who regularly consume that type of product," says Stefan Goethaert.
To increase the representativeness of the tests, Colruyt Group has decided not to work with experts panels or product ambassadors; instead, it works with ordinary consumers who - by taking part in the tests - are the one who help to decide what appears on the shelves of Colruyt Group. This form of co-creation - which 50,000 Belgians already take part in - provides a much-needed degree of transparency for consumers, as well as increasing their involvement. Driven by the increased importance of transparency and customer involvement, Colruyt Group is pushing to reach the peak of 100,000 participating consumers by the end of next year.