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“See me, feel me”: Effects of 3D-printed surface patterns on beverage evaluation

van Rompay, Thomas J.L., Finger, Friederike, Saakes, Daniel, Fenko, Anna
Food quality and preference 2017 v.62 pp. 332-339
bitterness, chocolate, cocoa (beverage), hardness, packaging, product evaluation, smell, taste
Research shows that packaging appearance can have a strong impact on taste experience and product evaluation. However, so far research has mainly focused on how visual appearances may steer sensory impressions including smell and taste. Taking into account new (technological) developments which allow for consideration of a wide range of previously unexplored packaging factors, the research presented here investigates the impact of 3D-printed surface patterns on taste evaluations as a function of product type (a bitter tasting coffee versus a sweet tasting chocolate drink) and verbal product claims (either stressing taste strength or taste softness). To this end, 3D-printed cups with angular and rounded surface patterns were manufactured and handed to shoppers participating in a taste session for a fictitious coffee or chocolate brand. Results show that an angular surface pattern increased perceived bitterness and taste intensity ratings, whereas a rounded surface pattern induced a sweeter taste evaluation and a less intense taste experience. Congruent pairings of drinks and tactile patterns resulted in more favorable outcomes. Finally, congruence was also found to be important with respect to taste descriptions, with verbal claims in line with surface pattern associations further enhancing product experience.