Market Share: Where Taste-Testing and Virtual Meet

 

The influx of people working, schooling, caring and connecting from home has undoubtedly commanded widespread adaptive changes in all facets of life and business. For companies in the food and beverage space producing new products, the shift to home brought about by the pandemic and related social distancing mandates forced businesses to adjust their operations for a critical part of the food manufacturing process: taste testing. Typically conducted in designated facilities, taste testing is used to determine whether consumers can distinguish the taste of a company’s product from similar product produced by competitors, and whether tasters rank the company’s product on par with competing brands.

To make taste-testing possible from a distance, milkadamia, a Burr Ridge, Illinois-based company, launched the Just One Taste LIVE advertising campaign to allow consumers to taste-test its vegan milk products, bringing fun, creativity and brand excitement, engaging both consumers and taste testers at home. The company offers dairy-, soy- and gluten-free, plant-based, vegan macadamia milk, creamers, butter and cooking spray, and the business was born in Australia where the macadamia tree is native, and also where it operates a family-owned macadamia farm. The campaign was conducted via a humorous, lighthearted virtual live tasting held over Zoom featuring seven people who received milkadamia products.

The vegan milk company planned to devote the second half of 2020 to having consumers taste-test its products, which was thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, milkadamia partnered with Chicago-based creative agency KUZMA& to develop a viable solution, and to place milkadamia products in consumers’ hands. Each recipient was sent a milkadamia kit to their homes, but there was a catch—the company didn’t inform recipients which product they were taste-testing. The kit was housed in a black box with white lettering and branding, which read, “Would you take just one taste of whatever’s in this box?” The videos milkadamia received featured enthusiastic taste-testers, and the end result was deemed a success.

Taste-testing via Zoom is something that many companies have been experimenting with recently, on both a large and small scale. Mostly for entertainment and networking purposes, many companies, organizations and groups have been hosting virtual wine and whiskey tastings, cheese tastings, chocolate tastings and, for kids during the fall season, apple tasting. For example, Yellibelly Chocolates, an Addison, Texas, candy store, hosted “Create Your Own Hot Cocoa Bombs” in November 2020 for attendees in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and sent participants at-home kits to make their own cocoa bombs at home during the event. These tastings allow companies to navigate through the barriers of time and place, bringing product into recipients’ homes and hands, and providing them an avenue to experience the product, and interact with each other, in real time.

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Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.

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