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Where ‘consumer obsessed’ meets science: GSK Warren Innovation Lab Suites

Consumers play a vital role in developing GSK Consumer Healthcare products. Much of it happens at our Innovation Lab Suites in Warren, New Jersey, which include the Consumer Sensory Lab and Shopper Science Lab.

Before the current, global pandemic, consumers came to our labs every day to test prototypes of new GSK products, give feedback on everything from our ideas to our formulations and packaging, and tell us why they picked one OTC product option over another.

The labs help GSK make better products – products that consumers want – and get them to your store shelves faster.

Consumer Sensory Lab: Discovering what you find “sense-sational"

Each day consumer panelists share their observations with our sensory scientists as they taste, smell, hear, touch and view early versions of our products. Winning in the marketplace often depends on engaging with consumers and learning how to appeal to their senses.

Sensory science makes medicine delight to differentiate our brands from the competition. It’s all about making our brands more compelling to consumers.” -

Sensory fun facts

  1. Consumers on our panels train their taste buds so they can consistently evaluate products on more than 50 attributes, plus the intensity of those attributes.
  2. Active ingredients in medicines are often quite bitter. Sensory science makes them less bitter and easier to swallow – without the need for a “spoonful of sugar.”
  3. Non-active ingredients in medicines are selected based on how our body reacts. For example, the same nerve line is responsible for sensing both hot and cold. That’s why hot water can sometimes feel cold at first. We can design products that can deliver warm sensations in some conditions, cool sensations in others.
  4. The tongue experiences five taste sensations: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami. The number of taste buds for each sensation can vary person to person, which helps explain why people react differently to products.   

Shopper Science Lab: Unlocking the secrets of your buying decisions

Which package designs will attract your attention on the shelf? What ads will catch your eye? How can retailers optimize their shelf layouts to make it easier to find what you need? The Shopper Science Lab (SSL) works to understand how consumers shop and what they respond to. They spend a lot of time listening to what you tell us. And then they dig deeper.

Consumers sometimes tell us what they think we want to hear. Biometric tools like facial coding and galvanic skin response help get beyond that to measure the emotional engagement of a shopper with the stimuli we’re showing them.”

Other cool features from our Innovation Labs Suites

In addition to biometric tools, you’ll find these in our Innovation Labs:

  • Devices like eye-tracking glasses and virtual reality headsets. Put on the glasses and we can see what grabs your attention even before you even know. Don the headsets, or stand in front of one of the largest seamless touchscreens in the world and you’ll be transformed from the lab to one of your neighborhood stores.
  • Tools to re-imagine websites in an instant. Our SSL team developed SEE (for SSL eCommerce Evaluation), which enables us to embed new images over a retailer’s operational website – we can test multiple versions with shoppers, in a real-life shopping scenario.
  • Devices that merge real-life store shelves with augmented Using an iPad, we can use augmented reality to overlay future merchandising concepts onto a store’s actual assets, showing retailers what they will look like in real-world context.
  • Areas to modify prototypes – often in real time. Is the cherry flavor too sour? The packaging not distinctive? We can make adjustments and get quick feedback from our consumer panelists.
  • Specialized spaces for meetings, testing and more. Our fit-for-purpose labs include a focus group facility for consumer deep dives, model doctor and dentist offices where we engage with healthcare experts, a digital lab, and even a model pharmacy.

At the Innovation Labs Suites in Warren, we listen to what our consumers say – and then we help make it happen.