This blog was coauthored by Shira Smith and Laura Dulude.
Among CMB's many talented team members, we seem to attract an unusually high percentage of gifted bakers. Inspired by CMB favorite, The Great British Baking Show, we recently hosted our first annual Great Banana Bread Bake-Off. While some of us volunteered to bake, others put their talents to judging.
Unable to fully relinquish our researcher hat for a chef’s toque, we couldn’t help but put together a structured approach for the competition—we sure know how to have a good time!
Here’s how we used market research best practices to pull off the big event:
- Blind judging: To ensure fairness, the banana breads were judged blind. Each entry was assigned a number so that judges didn't know who baked which bread until after they submitted their scorecard. This let us keep track of scores and link them back to the winners in the end.
- Randomizing the tasting order: Judges were asked to sample the breads at random to minimize order bias. Imagine tasting 11 different banana breads—the first or last are likely to be more memorable than the middle, so we didn’t want to create any unfair advantages by always starting with the same loaf.
- Analysis: Remember, this was a competition! Judges were asked to rate the breads on a 1-5 scale across four categories: taste, texture, creativity, and appearance. We then summed up the four scores to crown a winner. This approach also let us see how each loaf fared in the individual categories.
- Market researchers use the whole scale. No high-rating or straight-lining here! Our scores ranged from an average of 2.0 for one bread’s creativity to a 4.2 for another’s texture.
- Taste and texture were closely tied, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever enjoyed the crisp snap of a potato chip. Using our 124 judge ratings, we ran pairwise correlations across all breads:Significant correlations at 95% confidence are shown in green. Taste and Texture form a clear pair with a strong (0.5+) correlation, and while Creativity and Appearance are weakly correlated with Taste, the two of them track together even better with a correlation of 0.353.
- You don’t have to win any one category to be successful. There was a bit of an uproar in the office when one contestant came in second place overall despite not having won any individual category outright. However, his entry was a solid contender in multiple categories, placing 2nd in Texture, 3rd in Appearance, 3rd in Creativity, and 4th in Taste—consistency won the game for bread #5.
- All the winners looked good. The top three breads overall were also the top three most attractive breads; no other metric tracked so clearly against overall success. The top-ranking bread overall excelled in Taste and Creativity, the second-place winner was consistently good across all categories, and bronze took it home with solid scores in both Texture and Creativity, but all three of them succeeded while looking delicious.
Overall the Great Banana Bread Bake-Off was a major success and true indicator of our colleagues’ creativity and dedication to teamwork. Want to join us? Check out our careers page to learn more about life at CMB and our open positions (no baking required).
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