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Flavour, love and cognitive computing: an unlikely recipe?

Love at First Taste

With consumers providing more and more information about themselves, using such basic ingredients as age, gender and location to find that perfect match has become a thing of the past. For its ‘Love at First Taste’ campaign, Knorr worked with IBM iX to throw something far more fundamental into the mix: flavour.

As the concept of eating has shifted from sustenance into hedonism, surely we should be able to tell more about our potential suitors from their taste palette rather than their location? In a new dimension of cooking, dating and most importantly sharing, ‘Love at First Taste’ represents an innovative, interactive approach from Knorr and IBM iX to engage with consumers on an even more collaborative level of experience.

Today, consumers co-create content with their brands. Because it is not enough to educate segments on new products and offerings, brands need to establish new ways of engaging with their audiences and provide an experience beyond the utilitarian consumption of their initial product offering.

Now, the experience and interactions with the brand across digital and physical dimensions is just as important as the interest in the product itself. With a wealth of information at consumers’ fingertips, brand loyalty dwindles when consumers know what they want and where to find it. Instead, brands increasingly need to interact with their audiences on a whole new level – allowing them to learn more about themselves and their preferences as well as to share content.

It is on this premise that IBM iX worked with Knorr to bring cognitive computing both to the kitchen and also to the marketing arena. Unilever’s global ‘Love at First Taste’ campaign launched with a social experiment where Knorr paired single strangers based on their love of the same flavours, discovered using the Knorr Flavour Profiler. With 12 different flavour profiles available, IBM iX built this recommendation engine to power the Love at First Taste mobile-first online hub, designed to dish out tailored recipe recommendations based on an iterative Flavour Profiler.

In a nutshell, using advanced relationship inference technology, the tool can infer flavours in recipes and products and provide recommendations based on consumers’ identified tastes. The results of the Flavour Profiler determine a personalised flavour profile, and whether preferences are hot and spicy or mild and earthy, each participant will uncover whether they are a ‘Meaty Warrior’ or a ‘Deep Sea Dreamer’, to name two profiles.

This unlikely mix of ingredients for a marketing campaign inspired fantastic results. To throw in another culinary cliché, the proof really is in the pudding. To date, the #LoveAtFirstTaste video received 108m views and 1.2m clicks through to the online hub and Flavour Profiler.

The impact across social and external media was also impressive, achieving 625 pieces of coverage and 1.3bn PR impressions as a result. Campaign magazine notably awarded Knorr with ‘Campaign of the Day’ following the campaign launch, too.

Why is this important? It highlights how consumer brands can differentiate themselves by involving their consumers more collaboratively in their campaigns. ‘Love at First Taste’ provided Knorr with the opportunity to position its offering in the headspace of consumers in a different context but with strong thematic relevance and used data and inference to do so. The advantage of using cognitive technology is that you can provide answers to questions not yet asked.

The brand was therefore able to use the Flavour Profiler to uncover tastes and recipes previously unknown to the consumer and provide the platform to share these insights across social and digital networks. This interactive application created a fun and engaging experience for consumers whilst allowing the brand to develop a deeper understanding of consumer preferences to cater for growing expectations and demands for the ultimate foodie experience.

You can access the Knorr Flavour Profiler on myflavour.knorr.com. Don’t forget to check out what IBM iX is doing with Unilever at Cannes Lions Innovation. We’ll be seeing more cognitive technology with the Unilever Foundry to help identify the top 50 best tech startups.

This article was first published in The Drum's AI issue, guest edited using IBM Watson technology.

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