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Free Frozen Pizza Tested for Market Research

August 6th, 2007

Last week we received what is probably our tastiest product sample so far. This one was a frozen pizza that arrived in a styrofoam container with some dry ice on the bottom. The box that contained the pizza itself was one of those black and white “Brand X” kind of boxes that did not reveal the brand of the product but did list the ingredients and nutritional information. Along with the product, we received our survey instructions, which revealed that the testing was being conducted by a company called MRSI, or Marketing Research Services Incorporated:



Dear Research Participant:We appreciate your help in this marketing research study. We hope you enjoy participating in this project.Manufacturers want to make products the way people would like them - that is why they sponsor studies like this and why they value your opinions so highly.

We are sending you a frozen pizza to try at home within the next week. Please fill out the questionnaire as you eat the product.

It is important that you eat enough of the frozen pizza to answer the questions about the product. While there may be others in your household who can also eat the product, the questionnaire needs to be answered by you and should reflect your opinions.

We will be emailing you in about a week to get your opinions of the frozen pizza. Please be sure to eat enough of the product to be able to answer the questions.

Sincerely,

Senior Project Director


The instructions page was stapled to a 10-page questionnaire that asked us to rate the product on a plethora of specific characteristics, including:

  1. overall flavor
  2. overall aroma
  3. overall appearance
  4. saltiness
  5. seasonings
  6. serving size
  7. amount, flavor, color, and spiciness of the sauce
  8. amount and flavor of garlic
  9. amount and flavor of the cheese
  10. amount, texture, flavor, and color of the tomatoes
  11. flavor, texture, chewiness, crispiness, and color of the crust

For most of these, we were asked to give a 1-10 rating on each characteristic and then a qualitative rating depending on the nature of the ingredient. For example, for saltiness we could rate it anywhere from “much too salty” to “not at all salty enough”. There were a few additional questions at the end that asked about the cooking and preparation of the pizza and whether or not we would buy or recommend it.

After cooking the pizza according to the directions, we enjoyed it for a nice lunch and made a mental note of the ingredients and characteristics. In terms of overall appearance, it looked very much like the Margherita flavor of the California Pizza Kitchen brand. The basic ingredients were virtually identical: tomatoes, basil, a blend of three white cheeses, and a light tomato sauce on a thin crust made from a mixture of whole grain flours. The taste was fairly similar also, although I think that the overall flavor was a little more intense with this sample compared to most of the store bought versions that I have had. It was definitely one of the best frozen pizzas I have ever tasted, especially considering that this was a vegetarian variety that did not even have any meat toppings on it. The only real improvement that I would make is the addition of a little more cheese to give it more substance; for such a tasty pizza, the amount of toppings was rather light. But it is difficult to argue with something that is free, especially in a world where there is not supposed to be any such thing as a free lunch!


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