Creating Customized Descriptive Protocols to Make Consumer Relevant Claims for Household Paper Products


The principles of sensory evaluation can be applied to a diverse array of product categories. Researchers were interested in understanding the descriptive properties of napkins and developing potential consumer-related claims about napkin performance. The research explored usage behavior among cloth and paper napkin users, created customized protocols for evaluation, and linked consumer language with descriptive analysis of products.

“A descriptive evaluation protocol was established…”


An industry established protocol (SpectrumTM Handfeel) was used as a starting point. A community narrative session with consumers was then conducted, where everyday product usage, typical interaction with the product category and sensory signals throughout use were observed and discussed. Based on consumer comments, a descriptive evaluation protocol was established to capture all aspects of the sensory perception of napkins. Additional evaluation techniques for manipulations in hand, perception against the face and performance against assault were added to augment the sensory space of napkins.


Several consumer insights were uncovered. Consumers recognized too much of a good thing is not always desirable. For example, a napkin can be too thick leading it to be perceived as wasteful or outside the category. A key benefit of paper napkins is the guilt-free disposability feature, related to both economic and environmental concerns, which is compromised by over-delivery on sensory signals. The developed protocol could be used to explore potential claims about the efficacy of top performing napkins.

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