When Coke created a special edition white can, the goal was to raise money for endangered polar bears. Instead, the can was withdrawn because consumers complained that the Coke had a different taste.
Where are we going? To the impact of sound and packaging on our food.
In one experiment, participants were asked about the freshness and crunchiness of their Pringles. Equipped with headphones, each of 200 volunteers ate a stack of chips. Unbeknownst to them, the crunching sounds they heard were modified by an amplifier and equalizer. The results? What they heard affected what they tasted. The volunteers who heard a louder, higher-pitched crunch believed their chips were fresher.
Again looking at what we hear, scientists from Brigham Young and Colorado State concluded that when we listen to the sounds we make as we eat, we consume less. Other researchers have found that low-pitched music can change how bittersweet toffee tastes. And one beverage can producer is trying to determine if it can create a more masculine hiss when consumers open a can of an energy drink.
Even color might make a difference. Soup can taste more salty in a blue container and consumers actually believed their 7-Up was more lemony when the can was tinted with more yellow.
Our Bottom Line: Product Differentiation
As Coke, 7-Up and Pringles discovered, taste is a multi-sensory experience. As a result, the product differentiation that oligopolies hope to achieve takes them far beyond their food and drink recipes.
It can take them to the impact of a new can on the old taste of Coke.