Influencing Consumer Perception

Influencing Consumer Perception

A recent 2015 article in “The New Yorker” introduces Charles Spence, a pioneering genius in the multisensory integration field. He has conducted multiple experiments with findings that are significantly impacting and disrupting the packaging industry.

One experiment in particular has been deemed as the “sonic-chip breakthrough.” Charles used Pringles, the popular tubed chip to test his theory about the psychology of how the sound of eating could impact the taste of the eater. He believed that the true sound of the crunch, could change the actual taste of the chip. The study concluded that if the chip sounded “super crunchy” to the participant, the chip was perceived to be a full fifteen percent fresher than the softer sounding chips. He tested this through playing the sound of the crunch back to some of the participants – The other participants were left to their own natural hearing to experience the sound of biting the chip.

If the chip lacked that captivating “crunch” sound, the participant perceived it as stale, which altered the taste and perceived quality. “The chips were identical, of course, but nearly all the volunteers reported that they were different—that some had come from cans that had been sitting open awhile and others were fresh.”

Other findings based on Spence’s research include that “strawberry-flavored mousse tastes ten per cent sweeter when served from a white container rather than a black one; that coffee tastes nearly twice as intense but only two-thirds as sweet when it is drunk from a white mug rather than a clear glass one; that adding two and a half ounces to the weight of a plastic yogurt container makes the yogurt seem about twenty-five per cent more filling, and that bittersweet toffee tastes ten per cent more bitter if it is eaten while you’re listening to low-pitched music.” Humans may be fickle, but the psychology is a tell all and marketers need to be paying attention. It’s only a matter of time before a new fizz enhancing can is produced to entice carbonated beverage lovers!

In addition to Spence’s brilliant use of neuroscience to help achieve the ultimate sensory experience for brands, he is also excellent at identifying why some companies have failed in these “sensory” areas to create impact for consumers. For instance, in 2011 Coca-Cola experimented with a white can to raise awareness for endangered polar bears. This packaging experiment was an epic fail. Consumers thought that Coca-Cola had changed its classic, iconic flavor when only the color of the packaging was altered. This limited edition packaging was taken off of the market after a short period of time – Consumers associate the iconic “red” with sweetness. Because of this, you can be sure that the Coke can will remain red!

His findings indicate that all senses have the ability to influence the taste and perceived quality of a product. Gradually, more and more brands are capitalizing on this and have started changing both their product and packaging in order to attend to all the senses. Consumers are aware of everything from: changes in design, to texture, smell and even sound. All of these factors can affect the taste of the product. When a consumer chooses a product, they are choosing it for a myriad of reasons, but many consumers today primarily make purchases that enable them to feel like they have a relationship with the product itself, or the brand at large – Often times through the experience they have while using/tasting/touching it. By curating an experience for your target consumers by engaging all of the natural human senses, you will be able to buy into the hearts of many with your savvy understanding of how to meet specific needs and gain marketable momentum.

Interested in reading the full article? See here:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/11/02/accounting-for-taste