Hospitality Business Magazine

Matching drinks to our moods

One thing market research has shown us is that Kiwis don’t fit in rigid boxes like “household spender aged 25-34”, or “male, married with two kids, over 40”, but instead make choices based on mood and occasion. As the New Zealand population grows, we’re going to continue to see more niche products that cater to this sense of uniqueness – and that’s a great opportunity for bar and café owners looking to differentiate themselves with their beverage offerings.

Using a ground-breaking New Zealand innovation (Needscope), that matches beverage choices with emotions rather than fixed demographics, the team at Coca-Cola has discovered what makes us tick when we’re choosing which drink to order.

The six taste moods are:

Our drinks choices can be roughly divided into six emotion-driven flavours: vibrancy, affiliation, tranquillity, composure, superiority and bravado.

  • Vibrancy, to give a feeling of being alive – think fizzy and fruity like a passionfruit soda
  • Affiliation, to feel like one of the gang – think beer, Coke or whichever wine everyone else is drinking
  • Tranquillity, when you want to chill – think hot chocolate or herbal tea
  • Composure, when you want to feel in control – think water or a healthy smoothie
  • Superiority, when you want to feel a cut above – think challenging tastes like soda and elderflower or cucumber
  • Bravado, to fuel your adrenaline rush – think Monster Energy

The truth is, almost nobody drinks water all the time.

“We are hard-wired not to do without,” says Coca-Cola knowledge and insights manager Carl Edkins.

“We often don’t want to make compromises.”

Different situations and emotions change our tastes every moment of every day and the savvy hospitality worker can pick up on these cues to suggest beverages that fit the mood.

Kiwis make around eight drink choices a day based on our moods, whether we’re feeling insecure at a job interview or first date and need to show our superior taste (think a sophisticated drink like a Schweppes tonic water and mixer), or we’re at an end-of-year bash and we’re in the moment (something fizzy and tangy with a fruit garnish).

“If you run a bar or café, you need to be providing something that meets at least one of these needs,” Mr Edkins says.

Kiwis seeking a feeling of composure as well as superiority are also looking for food and drinks that are less processed and closer to nature, produced by natural processes like fermentation or with fewer ingredients. As well as MOST Organic Juices and Zico coconut water, sugar alternatives derived from a natural source such as stevia are also in demand.

Superiority is the real white space. The trend for novelty and individuality is only increasing, meaning customers are demanding even more choice to meet that desire.

As New Zealand’s fast-rising population opens the door to niche products, Mr Edkins says Kiwis can expect more exotic choices that set us apart from the usual soft-drink crowd.

In the future, we’ll be choosing more products with an acquired taste, including sour beverages or something with texture, like juices with basil seeds or chia to provide a sensory experience akin to this year’s limited-edition Fanta Jelly Fizz or the long-popular bubble tea.

Bartenders often regard themselves as students of human psychology and studies like the Needscope research show how important our emotions really are to people’s drink choices. By capitalising on this knowledge, hospitality owners can make the most of every customers’ moods.