Do you remember the taste bud tongue maps we learned in elementary school? Lies, lies, lies! Truth turns out, the average person has over 10,000 taste buds, but they are not in “sweet” or “bitter” zones on your tongue as we originally were taught.
When scientists talk about taste, they’re talking about an integrated experience where scent, suggestion and memory meet your taste buds. They’re not just talking about the nerve endings in the mouth and tongue. That’s because there’s a deeper connection to smell and taste than may meet the eye.
Most scientists believe there are many more flavors we can detect than the five core tastes we mapped out in our childhood. Those taste receptors don’t work alone, either. There are many signals being received by the taste centers in our brains.
Actually, only a small part of the food experience comes from our taste buds. Smell and taste signals are sent to the brain, and the brain converts all of those signals into flavor. Some researchers actually want to rename the sense of taste to flavor for this reason.
Regardless of its scientific monikor, taste in experiential marketing is a sense that’s hard to resist! In today’s culture of food and flavor, it’s not just the fact that a food molecule touches
the tongue. The rich and pleasurable gustatory experience happens when taste merges with the other senses.
Flavorful experiences are a fond option for many brands. Even those that don’t have food products.
So how do you incorporate taste in your experiential marketing activations? There are quite a few different campaign formats: sampling, dinner events, signature drinks, chocolate swag. Toothpaste, mouthwashes and floss can be tasted without being eaten. Even cigar smoking or vaping feature unique flavors.
As with all of the senses, you can tailor tastes to be relevant to your audience and you. If you’re promoting a summer seasonal product, you could hand out summery foods like ice cream or popsicles. Or, you could take the lead of the Montana Office of Tourism, whose mobile tour handed out authentic bison jerky to people who stopped by.
Food is so enticing to consumers that it can also be used as a reward for performing a task or in exchange for something else. Consumers can “pay” for samples using social capital, such as posting a photo, using a hashtag or following brand accounts.
Experiential sampling vehicles such as food trucks, sampling vans or sampling bikes are a great way to bring a taste of a brand right to an event or on a multi-market mobile tour. Plus, an experiential marketing vehicle combines eye-catching visual art on the truck with the smell and taste of food for a multi-sensory experience.
To reiterate, that’s just one approach. Taste in experiential marketing offers your brand a variety of solutions.
In February 2017, eMarketer, a leading source for digital marketers and one of the most widely cited research providers in the media, did a poll of internet users. They discovered that 27.5% of users (across all ages) use ad blocking technology.
But what if your ad was something to be tasted? A multi-sensory experience they couldn’t ignore?
To explore how taste and the other physical senses apply to your marketing plans, give us a call. In the meantime, download our free guide to multi-sensory brand experiences. It provides more science behind taste and offers concrete examples of how brands have used taste to deepen consumer understanding of their brand.