Taste Acquisition


We are born with – arguably – three innate likes and dislikes. We like sweet things and fatty things – evolutionarily a good thing as we crave the calories that are essential for survival but were hard to find – and we hate bitter – again a good thing as we spat out those bright berries that looked so attractive but were probably poisonous.

Everything else we learn as we go along. Tastes, textures, different ways of delivering a taste or a texture, we learn to associate with positive and negative feelings. Psychologists call it Paired Associative Learning.  Some foods are associated with fun and parties and will always represent carefree, exciting, fun times. Some we will associate with mother’s love and home and they will always be comforting, safe, reassuring foods. Some will have less pleasant associations – such as the first time we got really ill through alcohol – and these flavours may be challenging to us for the rest of our lives.

As we grow up we even learn to reject sweet and fatty things as we learn that in modern society these are not so good for us, and we learn to like bitter as we associate things like coffee and alcohol with more aspirational grown-up feelings – we pair these positive associations with the flavours and soon find that we like the flavours.

So our likes and dislikes are an amalgamation of our experiences – much like our individual personalities – and thus unique. Yes this is true, but our experiences are a function of the culture and time that we grew up in and so we share more commonalities with our compatriots than is perhaps initially apparent.

Whenever we eat or drink we experience a series of tastes and textures. These tastes and textures, the way that we experience them and the order in which they come take us on an emotional journey. If we as brand owners really want to understand how our brands work, the best ways to talk about them and how we can develop and improve them, we need to understand our consumers’ emotional journey.

Emotional Profiling maps and explains the consumers’ journey so you can really understand your product and how and why it works. It helps you to understand how you can adjust your delivery to improve the consumer experience, improve your communications to increase consumer satisfaction and gives you a clearer vision for your product development pipeline.