AZTI & We Are Testers

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  • Company AZTI
  • Date: 2020
  • Sector: Food Research and Technology
  • Techniques: Online Community and Focus Group
  • Methodology: Qualitative
  • Scope: International
  • Sample Size: 4 Online Communities with 20 participants each and 4 Online Focus Groups with 5 participants each

«Having a tool like the We Are Testers online community has allowed us to obtain valuable information about the perception of people from different profiles and countries, which offered us a very interesting comparison to better guide the development of new low-sugar products. Delving into consumer opinions on a wide range of consumption-related issues enables us to gain valuable insights for product innovation.»

Elena Santa Cruz | Expert Researcher in Consumer Behavior and Preferences in the Food Industry at AZTI

The Client

AZTI is a specialized Technological Center in the marine and food sector with a history of over 30 years and international presence in more than 45 countries. The high scientific quality of its team, combined with cutting-edge technologies and research results, shapes ideas that, when transformed into products and services, generate entrepreneurial initiatives and sustainable solutions in various fields. The ultimate goal? Contribute to the development of a healthier and more sustainable present and future society.

AZTI Technological Center and Food Innovation

The Challenge

In its commitment to innovation, sustainability, and promoting a healthier society, AZTI has collaborated in a European project to develop low-sugar products. In this case, AZTI has developed 2 ranges of low-sugar prototypes (cookies and muffins) with the incorporation of new plant-based sugar substitutes that do not interfere with the sensory perception of food but have a low glycemic index, low calorie content, and high fiber content.

However, as a preliminary step to the development of such products, AZTI needed to firsthand understand the consumer’s focus and opinion: their preferences, concerns, needs, or consumption habits related to sugary foods, as well as their opinion on these new sugar substitutes with a healthier dietary and nutritional composition.

The study is part of the European PERFECT project, funded by EIT FOOD, for understanding and analyzing consumer needs. Along with AZTI, companies like PepsiCo, the supermarket chain Colruyt Group, and other partners from the food industry participated in the project.

The Solution

With a ‘consumer-centric’ approach, AZTI’s proposal aimed to integrate the consumer’s perspective into the project’s development. To achieve this, they turned to We Are Testers (WAT) with the goal of using our customer knowledge tools to delve into consumer perceptions, habits, and opinions through various co-creation activities.

To address these information needs and obtain the necessary insights, 4 Online Communities were launched, a platform that combines quantitative and qualitative techniques with access to a specific number of users who meet the study’s requirements and profile.


AZTI Online Community*Image of the AZTI online community in WAT Lab as a research tool


The Online Communities had 20 members each and were simultaneously developed in 3 countries: Spain, the UK, and Belgium, to analyze regional differences in opinions.

The Online Communities lasted for 1 week and featured various activities available on our WAT Lab platform, such as tasks, discussions, surveys, and voting… to explore consumer opinions, experiences, and perceptions from different methodological approaches, including knowledge of sweeteners and their perception, daily sugar consumption and reasons for doing so, the role of sweeteners in various bakery products, and more.


AZTI Online Community Voting Activity*Voting Activity within the Online Community. After answering the question, participants interacted with each other and with the community moderator.


After the development of the Online Communities, a final Focus Group activity was conducted using our specialized tool WAT Focus. For this, 5 participants were selected from each Community based on their valuable contributions.

Therefore, for the project’s development, We Are Testers began with the participant recruitment process from both our WAT Community in Spain and the international panel; followed by the creation, customization, and launch of our Online Communities platform. Finally, the results were analyzed by country and in a comparative manner.

The Result

Thanks to the development of the Online Communities and Focus Groups as consumer research and knowledge techniques, AZTI gained access to the information and insights needed to proceed with the project, in conjunction with their technical team and innovative technologies.

Among the aspects explored through the online community, some highlights include:

  • Perceptions and specific motivations for daily sugar consumption.
  • Difficulties and barriers to ‘giving up’ such flavors.
  • Routines, events, or daily activities associated with sugar consumption.
  • Analysis of the feeling of giving up versus pleasure, ‘indulgence’… in sugar product consumption or the feeling of ‘guilt-free’ consumption in the case of natural substitutes.
  • Evaluation of aspects affected by excessive sugar consumption, such as medical attention, health effects…
  • Understanding the most valued characteristics in sugar substitute products or reduced-sugar products, what values they project…
  • Prioritizing products, among those developed in the project, where the new sweetener would be more accepted.
  • Assessing factors influencing the purchase and consumption of sugar substitute products, such as ideal packaging, supermarket shelf placement, or price, especially during times of economic difficulty like that caused by the pandemic.
  • Improvement proposals and aspects that would enhance the consumption of sugar substitute products.


My AZTI Online Community*Image of participation statistics from the Spain Online Community


Furthermore, project participants provided very positive feedback about the use and functionality of the platform, stating that they felt comfortable, entertained, and happy to have been able to be part of the project with their opinions.

The Future

In addition to this project, AZTI and WAT collaborate in other studies as data and information providers in various research on the food industry and the marine world, both quantitatively and qualitatively.



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Update date 22 December, 2023

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