Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Taste...influenced by more than just smell

This is relatively old news (August of 2008), but is nevertheless interesting. A study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that:
Participants who ate the vegetarian alternative did not rate the taste and aroma less favorably than those who ate the beef product. Instead, what influenced taste evaluation was what they thought they had eaten and whether that food symbolized values that they personally supported ... strategies that might persuade heavy meat eaters to change their diet include changing the cultural associations of fruits and vegetables to encompass values that meat eaters endorse (e.g., power and strength), or challenging heavy meat eaters' assumptions about what tastes good by using in-store (blind) taste tests or showing them results of studies such as this one."

This reinforces the idea that the product is not just the physical product (or its taste), but the entire experience of purchasing and consuming the product (the price, the product's story, its ingredients, its smell, etc.). And I think the authors of this study are on to something by suggesting a change in the marketing strategy of vegan alternatives to meat. While I think that rebranding tofu and seitan as manly products (buy a new Ford F150, bet a freezer full of Hungry-Man Tofu dinners!) is an uphill battle, I could imagine a line of frozen vegan dinners targeted toward health/fitness-conscious individuals that uses a brand strategy similar to those whey/protein supplement powders...maybe something like Kung pao tofu fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids and 1000mg of the latest nutrient du jour.

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