Consumer-oriented rapid profiling methodologies, including free-choice profiling (FCP) and polarized sensory positioning (PSP), have been studied in recent decades, highlighting alternative aspects of conventional descriptive analysis (DA). In the present study, water samples were evaluated using DA, FCP, and PSP with open-ended questions to compare the sensory profiles. Ten bottled water samples and one filtered water sample were evaluated by a trained panel for DA (n = 11), a semi-trained panel for FCP (n = 16), and naïve consumers for PSP (n = 63). The results were analyzed using principal component analysis for DA and multiple factor analysis for FCP and PSP data. The water samples were discriminated by their total mineral content, which was mainly associated with heavy mouthfeel. The overall discrimination patterns for the samples were similar between FCP and PSP, whereas DA showed different patterns. Sample discrimination through confidence ellipses from DA, FCP, and PSP showed that two consumer-oriented methodologies distinguished samples more clearly than DA. Throughout this study, consumer-oriented profiling methodologies were able to be used to investigate sensory profiles and provide rich information on consumer-derived sensory attributes even for subtly different samples.
Keywords: consumer-oriented profiling; descriptive analysis; free-choice profiling; mineral content; polarized sensory positioning; water.