Do you ever taste a certain branded product and just think ‘ahhh that’s so good’? Is it just the taste of the product, or is there something much deeper going on in your emotional subconscious, and indeed your sense of emotional security?

During the pandemic we saw the disproportionate increase in sales of brands that people were familiar with. The reason for this is not just down to taste, but our need for the sense of the familiar. This goes back to our ‘primary socialisation’, the first 1-7 years of our life. Primary socialisation happens with our parents and it forms the basis of who we are, the morals, values and beliefs that shape us. The foods we eat, and the love we feel from our parents, intertwine at this early age. This sets up a deep semiotic connection with products that will last into our adult life, and may well be passed onto our children. The key here is that food forms a comfort bond and we draw on that bond in times of change and uncertainty.

Woman Enjoying Delicious Burger Gourmand Girl Eating Tasty Hamburger at Fast Food Restaurant

Secondary socialisation occurs from seven years onwards and it is more the outward stimulus of the world that starts to shape us. Within this construct the same brands get reaffirmed by peers and start to bond us with social groups. We need assurance and connection and will look favourably on brands that facilitate our social connection, happiness and, of course, popularity.

Taking all this into account, food and drink brands are rarely about just taste. There is a great interplay going on in our brains regarding choice that may have formed part of our pre-programming from a very young age.

So how can brands help themselves in this area? Think beyond what your brand is, and ask the question of what higher emotional and social functions does it facilitate. There is a clear and sustainable long-term strategy here, it just takes a good deal of empathetic thinking to get it right.

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