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How to Please Your Palate—No Matter Where You Live

Where you call home may determine what flavors Abbott offers.

The science of taste
Jan 27 2016

Consumers today have the luxury of choosing from many different flavors of their favorite foods. But the store shelves in New York look very different from the ones you’ll find in Mumbai. That’s why Abbott has scientists who spend their days understanding the different taste preferences of people around the world.

Discovering the flavors that people enjoy isn’t as easy as you might think. The first step is to understand what people want—and sometimes they don’t even know it until you start dishing up new flavors.

Finding the Right Recipe

Abbott has teams of people who sit down with consumers to determine what they like — and, equally important, what they don’t.

The steps to finding the right mix:

  • Identifying a flavor or taste trend through market research

  • Developing the “recipe” — a balance between health fueling nutrients and good taste

  • Conducting focus groups to understand consumer preferences

  • Holding taste panels with possible new formulations 

  • Tweaking the recipe

  • Repeating the steps above until you get it right

“It’s a lot of trial and error,” says Monica Tortorice, research scientist with Abbott. “Sometimes you think you have a winner, but despite all the research it falls flat, like root beer-flavored Ensure. But then you find a real winner in something like kesar badam (saffron almond) PediaSure® in India. It’s a complex, rewarding process.”

Things you may not know about global taste:

  • People in China prefer products that are less sweet

  • But people in Shanghai and Hong Kong like things a little sweeter

  • Vietnam consumers like more mild flavors

  • In India, they like sweet, but strong, robust flavors

“Making products that are pleasing to the taste buds is even more important for Abbott because they contain nutrients, which don’t always taste the best on their own,” says Tortorice. “Our products can’t do their job unless people consume them, making taste an important element of product development.”

Finding the right mix — and match — is complicated, but it’s a puzzle worth solving. Once the right flavor is found for the right market, consumers will enjoy the product and take in needed nutrients to live a healthy and active life.  

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