Review: Tariq Khan on…Guinness virtual reality tasting

guinnessLet me start off by saying that in my life outside of marketing I have never heard of anyone 3D print anything, I’ve never had a friend share their personalised film with me, I’ve never been enticed by an iBeacon and I’ve not had a “meaningful conversation with a brand” via chatbot.
Maybe I’ve lived a sheltered life but the reason for my frank admission is so you can understand my initial scepticism when I heard that Guinness has brought a virtual reality beer tasting experience to Tesco stores around the UK.
However, having recently worked on a couple of interactive projects with our own neuroscience division, Walnut Unlimited, the evidence around how our senses can complement each other makes a compelling case for this innovative Guinness project.
The idea is that as customers taste three new beers, they are immersed in an abstract environment where they experience colours, textures, movements and sounds that are meant to enhance the flavour profiles.
Delving deeper into the project it’s obvious a lot of time and care has been taken in making sure Guinness has delivered an experience that really does engage with the consumer. I particularly like the fact it has chosen to roll this out at the place where people might consider buying the product, maybe a few of these in some pubs wouldn’t go amiss either?
Adding further credibility to the project is the inclusion of Professor Charles Spence, who has helped people like Heston Blumenthal and El Bulli founder Ferran Adrià with their own endeavours at using sight and sound to help enhance flavour.
tariq khanThe hope from Guinness is that shoppers appreciate their beers in a new light and maybe like a beer they wouldn’t have thought to try otherwise. Psychologists such as Daniel Kahneman have shown that we are much more likely to retain something mentally when we have an emotional response to it. Experiences imprint themselves on the brain when they touch the heart. As such, the strategy of enhancing sensory drivers in order to influence purchase feel like a solid idea.
Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating and the true success of this effort can only be determined once you experience it for yourself. Regardless, Guinness should be applauded for testing the limits of what’s possible in order to progress the agenda for creating truly engaging interactive experience.

Tariq Khan is director of interactive at TMW Unlimited


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