• Emanuel-Emil Savan

Student thesis: Phd


Methodologies designed to support new product development are receiving increasing interest in recent literature. A significant percentage of new product failure is attributed to a mismatch between designed product features and consumer liking. A variety of methodologies have been proposed and tested for consumer liking or preference prediction, ranging from statistical methodologies e.g. multiple linear regression (MLR) to non-statistical approaches e.g. artificial neural networks (ANN), support vector machines (SVM), and belief rule-based (BRB) systems. BRB has been previously tested for consumer preference prediction and target setting in case studies from the beverages industry. Results have indicated a number of technical and conceptual advantages which BRB holds over the aforementioned alternative approaches.This thesis focuses on presenting further advantages and applications of the BRB methodology for consumer liking prediction. The features and advantages are selected in response to challenges raised by three addressed case studies.The first case study addresses a novel industry for BRB application: the fast moving consumer goods industry, the personal care sector. A series of challenges are tackled. Firstly, stepwise linear regression, principal component analysis and AutoEncoder are tested for predictors' selection and data reduction. Secondly, an investigation is carried out to analyse the impact of employing complete distributions, instead of averages, for sensory attributes. Moreover, the effect of modelling instrumental measurement error is assessed. The second case study addresses a different product from the personal care sector. A bi-objective prescriptive approach for BRB model structure selection and validation is proposed and tested. Genetic Algorithms and Simulated Annealing are benchmarked against complete enumeration for searching the model structures. A novel criterion based on an adjusted Akaike Information Criterion is designed for identifying the optimal model structure from the Pareto frontier based on two objectives: model complexity and model fit. The third case study introduces yet another novel industry for BRB application: the pastry and confectionary specialties industry. A new prescriptive framework, for rule validation and random training set allocation, is designed and tested. In all case studies, the BRB methodology is compared with the most popular alternative approaches: MLR, ANN, and SVM. The results indicate that BRB outperforms these methodologies both conceptually and in terms of prediction accuracy.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorJian-Bo Yang (Supervisor) & Dong Xu (Supervisor)


  • Step-wise linear regression
  • Support Vector Machines
  • Artificial Neural Networks
  • Multiple Linear Regression
  • AutoEncoder
  • Principal component analysis (PCA)
  • Pareto Frontier Analysis
  • Genetic Algorithms
  • Belief Rule-Based methodology
  • Consumer packaged goods
  • Fast-moving consumer goods
  • Multiobjective Optimization
  • New product development
  • Consumer preference prediction
  • Simulated Annealing

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