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2022 Convention - Day 1: Session 1.2

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  • 2022 Convention - Day 1 Featured speakers: Session 1.2

2022 Convention Program Day 1 - Tuesday 23 August 2022 

Featured Speakers : Session 1.2 - Consumer and Sensory Science

Jodie Hill

Sensory Solutions - Research Director

Topic: Understanding where Sensory & Consumer research is at its most valuable in the NPD cycle.


Jodie started her career as a Food Technologist and Research Scientist at the CSIRO studying off-odours and taints in food packaging. Moving into the commercial world, Jodie took a role as a leading member of a Sensory and Product Guidance Team in a global FMCG environment. Here, she gained sound experience and understanding of the requirements for guiding a cross-functional team from concept research to final consumer research, including the use of in-house sensory panels within the product development process.

With a keen interest in current and cutting edge research techniques and a passion for extending the boundaries of sensory research, Jodie has gone from working within an FMCG environment, to designing and managing consumer research for major FMCG companies from an external perspective. It is this thorough understanding and wealth of experience, combined with a real-world focus, which makes Jodie such a success in the development of quantitative and qualitative consumer research.

Jodie has been with Sensory Solutions since 2003 and is certified as a Qualified Professional Researcher (QPR) which is peer group recognition by the Market Research Industry’s peak body. Jodie is also a long term member of AIFST and involved with both the NSW branch and the Sensory & Consumer committee and is a Fellow of the AIFST.

Presentation Overview:

Coming Soon

Dr Cathy Gair 

T Garage - Director of Research and Sensory

Topic: They want what....!?!? Demystifying consumer product expectations and perceptions.


A sensory specialist who brings over 25 years of expertise from working for FMCG manufacturers in Research & Development and as a Sensory Insights Consultant.

With a love of food and wine, food has always been part of Cathy’s DNA. She studied Food Technology before completing a PhD in Sensory Research and starting up a successful Australian sensory research consultancy.

Cathy works as the conduit between the consumer and the R&D and marketing functions and has helped bring numerous successful new products to market over the years. She thrives on getting to the heart of what consumers expect and want in a product and interpreting their wishes to generate actionable outcomes for the industry.

Working on a diverse range of products across numerous local Australian and Global brands has given Cathy the depth of experience and breadth of knowledge to address a broad range of innovation challenges.

Presentation Overview:

Every consumer is unique and complex, yet new innovations need to be adopted by a broad group of consumers and fit seamlessly into their lives if they are to survive in market.

Qualitative sensory research is an invaluable tool to provide guidance across the whole innovation journey to ensure the product meets consumer expectations. It is particularly useful in the very early stages to clearly define the essential and optional product characteristics. The method is flexible, fluid, and iterative, so it is easy to adapt and evolve as the learnings grow.

This presentation will demonstrate the benefits of sensory qual and provide practical examples.

Contact Details:


Dr Danielle van Hout 

Aigora - President

Topic: Utilizing Artificial Intelligence to transform sensory and consumer research at all product development stages.


Dr. Danielle van Hout is the President of Aigora, a company whose mission is to empower sensory & consumer science teams to implement Artificial Intelligence. Danielle is a Sensory and Consumer scientist and research consultant with over 20 years of Leadership experience in FMCG R&D. In 2014 she obtained a Ph.D. in “Sensory testing based business decision making” at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam - Research Institute of Management in 2014. She has been collaborating for two decades with leading scientists on effective and ecologically valid consumer and sensory research approaches, and author of over 30 research papers.

Presentation Overview:

In this talk, we will present how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be leveraged to make sensory and consumer research more effective. We will explain the different areas of AI that are most important for sensory and consumer science, and advise on where to start. Examples will be given on how AI can be used during the different product development stages, including insights on where would be the best ROI. Finally, we will share our experience with the biggest challenges in applying AI in our field of sensory and consumer science.

Contact Details: 



Megan Ferguson

Hearsay - Head of CX and Client Success  

Topic: In a post-covid digital world, how do we immerse ourselves in our customers’ world and build better products?


Megan is on a mission to democratise consumer research and shape the way businesses get out and talk to their customers, gather insights, and build better brand experiences and products. Qualitative research is her passion.

With a BSc (Psychology) from Melb Uni, consumer and market research was a natural career choice (finally stumbled upon after 10 years of travelling, and generally not taking life too seriously). Her research career began in 2006 at Colmar Brunton and in 2015 she moved to BrandHook as Head of Insights and Strategy.

In 2019 together with BrandHook CEO (Pip Stocks), Megan took a workshop series on the road entitled ‘The Art and Science of Research Conversations’ to address an identified need for businesses to get their people closer to their customers. BrandHook clients were asking ‘Can you teach us what you do?’. Fast forward 3 years, and this workshop is now Hearsay ( – cloud based, research tech that builds in-house qualitative research capabilities and ensures processes are set up with rigour, deliver intelligent outcomes, better efficiencies and faster action.

Megan now spends her time in the start-up tech world building the Hearsay business (now with clients in Australia, UK and US), and keeping her research skills sharp conducting customer research and developing brand strategies for BrandHook clients.

Presentation Overview:

Frequently listed among current trends in innovation is ‘Increasing speed to market’. Not just in food, but all consumer categories. However, success of new products is not just about speed, it’s also about ensuring you achieve Product Market Fit. One thing that can both speed up the innovation process and ensure Product Market Fit is getting the entire product team involved in the research process. From the marketers to the technologists, cross team engagement early on and often will improve commercial success and speed to market. But consumer research is time consuming, expensive and scary …. or is it?



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