The Coke Can Coca-Cola Co. Just Wishes You’d Forget Already

Are you in food marketing? There’s a pretty vital morsel of information that is useful for any field of marketing, but somehow, few outside of multisensory integration know about it. And here it is:

The packaging of food affects it’s taste.

What do you think taste is? One of the senses right? Controlled by the tongue alone right? Right? Actually food scientists (yes they really exist) have discovered taste is a lot more complex. It is influenced by other senses, including smell, touch, sound and sight. Taste isn’t one of the five senses. Taste is the five senses.

Taste

This is from the marketing lecture Coca-Cola slept through:

Coca-Cola made a big oopsy-daisy by changing the colour of the cans for a limited time. No, those were effective. Instead I mean the time Coca-Cola created a limited edition white can to fundraise for endangered polarbears. Oh, you hadn’t heard of it? That’s for good reason.

In case you missed it, this was the can

Untitled

Kind of cute huh?

As appealing as the can may have been to the eyes, it was not appealing to the taste. No, I don’t mean if you licked the can, the aluminium tasted worse than usual. I mean the different packaging threw off consumers on a large scale.

Consumers who saw the different can percieved the formula to be different. So much so that Coca-Cola Co. received an alarming number of complaints about the formula change. Even though the formula was the same. People believed a new can signified a shift in formula, even though Coca-Cola had clearly stated the packaging was for fundraising. Maybe the connection from the mind to the information is weaker than the connection from the taste to the sight.

What about our other senses?

Sound

It’s not just product packaging that influences how consumers experience a product. Charles Spence, multisensory genius and a marketers best friend conducted several studies. According to AdWeek,

The Pringles experiment—fueled by Spence’s hypothesis that the perceived taste of the chips might be altered by the sound of their crunch—involved research subjects rating taste and freshness based on the crunch. The sound of each crunch was looped through a microphone into a pair of headphones worn by each subject, but Spence was also manipulating those sounds through an amplifier and an equalizer. He found that, indeed, participants’ tastes were altered by how fresh or stale the chips sounded.

But I’m not even in food marketing

Then thank you very much for sticking with us for so long! In all seriousness, this concept can easily be applied to any product or service being marketed. As marketers we tend to place such high emphasis on our core product. If you’re selling a laptop, you might just consider it’s specs. But have you thought about the way it whirrs when it’s powering up? Or the feeling of the the keys when pressed?

It’s time marketing got a whole lot more sensory.

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