The Emotion of Flavor

By Marco Marsan of Marco Polo Explorers 18 December 2019

Ok, now think of your favorite city. Maybe you’re thinking of the city where you live, or the city of your favorite sports team. Think of the traits of that city that the collective would agree are your most favorite. Diverse, hard working people, known for it’s southern spicy food and live music scene… is that your city? If not, what city comes to mind?

If your favorite city were a vodka, what would it taste like?

A couple years ago we had the opportunity to work with the great people at Absolut to create a pipeline of vodka ideas. We worked with a number of insights but landed on one that featured flavor expressions that captured transcendent places – places people aspired to visit or experience. The lead concept featuring a great city’s palpable heartbeat, Absolut New Orleans

Ultimately this inspired more ideas and a line of flavor inspirations called City Series was born.

The intent of the series was to speak not only to classic, well-known flavors of each city, but to the emotional connection people share toward that city. For city residents it evoked their local pride. Absolut Boston was the flavor of elderflowers and tea, while Absolut New Orleans contained mango and cayenne pepper, and San Francisco had Dragonfruit.

What other categories can (or should) work with flavors to evoke emotional connections? And how exactly do you turn emotions into flavors?

Think about it this way – if we were to innovate for a cookie, we might find the insight that cookies are often shared with friends, typically young people. What would a cookie taste like if it were named Friendship instead of the actual cookie flavor?

What if your cookie already evokes the emotional connection associated with friendship because the behavior is already there?

In other words – if your consumers have an emotional connection with your brand, congratulations! You are free to innovate utilizing those emotionally evocative traits!

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