Dispatches from FIE 2015

Eat with your eyes: Making sense of multi-sensory food

By Niamh Michail

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Sense David jago

Food should taste and smell good but what else should and can it do when ‘visually stimulated’ consumers like millennials engage in eating occasions? Touch, sight and sound are increasingly in the mix and driving multi-sensory NPD as FoodNavigator discovered at Food Ingredients Europe (FiE) in Paris recently. Black water anyone?

“The multi-sensory eating and drinking experience is in a sense based on cross-modal correspondence – which refers to the combination of all five senses in creating an experience,” ​said US-based Alex Woo, CEO of W2O Food Innovation.

David Gapp, qualitative director at PPLINSIGHTS said multi-sensory food could only grow as more brands explored food experiences in new ways.

“Life itself is a multi-sensory experience…and I think from a marketing perspective it’s about tapping into those different senses and understanding how people make positive associations with each of those different senses and bringing those to the fore.”

"we are going to continue to see this trend growing."

Director of innovation and insight at Mintel, David Jago, saw multi-sensory eating as “mostly being used as a marketing tool in impulse-driven categories.”

“So primarily soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, snacks, confectionery – those are the most popular areas - eat with your eyes. It’s about using colour, disruptive colour, in different product categories. So for example you can see a black water or a black vodka.”

“There’s quite a lot of room for innovation – we are going to continue to see this trend growing. If you think about the ‘visually stimulated’ millennial generation it’s a become a much bigger deal and going forward it is going to be even more important.”

This rainbow-coloured corn chips campaign went viral in the US

Jago added: “Smart brands are the ones that will use a series of differentiators which play with sensory values in different ways to keep the brand alive​, so the longevity will come from perhaps a series of different stimulations, a series of different sensory appeals over a period of time to maximise brand awareness and keep that brand in the consumer’s eye.”

Gapp warned multi-sensorial eating “has to be believable...it’s about understanding how that relates to the brand and to their experience. If you get any of that wrong and it doesn’t link up then it won’t work. It’ll just come across as not credible, as artificial and lacking authenticity.

“So the brand story has to match up to the multi-sensory experience.”

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