Maybe it’s the result of the unrelenting slide in conventional soft-drink sales. Or maybe the serendipitous byproduct of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi’s strategy for integrating snacking and refreshment experiences that used to be separate. But the company is coming up with more interesting sensory mashups these days.
For example, PepsiCo is seeking to patent a method of encapsulating scents within beverage packaging to entice US consumers with “favorable aromas” before they drink the beverage, according to BeverageDaily.com. The “aroma delivery system” would use one or more compounds encapsulated in gelatine capsules that are broken when a drink container is opened, the publication said.
“Consumers evaluate many products by the aroma emitted from the product or the container in which the product is made available,” wrote the inventors in the patent, which was filed last year and published earlier this year. “Edible products, such as juices and coffee, are expected to have a fresh aroma that replicates or evokes memory of the epxected flavor of the product.”[more]
And while brands want consumers to smell products, the inventors said, aromas are often lacking because the holes that drinks come out of are too small or are covered with protective safety films, according to BeverageDaily. “Scratch-and-sniff” wrappers could be one solution, but consumers might not believe that’s actually how the beverage smells.
There’s no initial indication of how close Pepsi might be to fielding odiferous packaging. But Tom Pirko, a leading beverage-industry consultant and president of Bevmark Consulting, told brandchannel that Pepsi is “nosing around mind games.”
“It’s not about the product inside or even smell itself as an adjunct to the product flavors, but rather it’s about suggestion,” Pirko explained. “Scent lingers in memory, often happily and in a satisfying and reassuring way, and this reinforces, stimulates behavior.”
Another PepsiCo sensory innovation seems further afield: Pepsi-flavored Cheetos which are now being sold in Japan. They’re a limited-time item even in the country’s experimental-taste market, and there are no plans to bring them to the US, according to USA Today. But after experiencing cola-flavored Cheetos that actually fizz in the mouth, consumers may demand that they stick around. In any event, Nooyi has been eager for PepsiCo product developers to “drinkify” snacks—and presumably vice versa.
And it’s possible that the idea could help PepsiCo achieve other goals besides keeping consumers intrigued with creative new experiences. Switching the taste of a traditional snack to sweet, and away from savory, may help incorporate salt-reduction efforts, Steve Osborn, business-innovation manager at Leatherhead Food Research, told BakeryandSnacks.com.
But even when it comes to wacky new productds, it’s always hard to stay ahead of the competition. Coca-Cola’s latest experimental beverage being fielded in Japan also would take some getting used to: Canada Dry Hot Ginger Ale, sold in a package that heats up the drink and even keeps it carbonated while warming.
What’ll the beverage giants think of next? Just look at their product arrays and start throwing things together.
[Photo at top via Food Junk]