Social media offers method to assess popular flavor pairings in LATAM

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / zmurciuk_k
© Getty Images / zmurciuk_k
Analyzing social media posts may offer food, beverage companies a quicker, and more resource-efficient method of identifying flavor pairings across Latin America, suggests a new study that looked at flavors in beer pairing.

Authors from the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana and XOC editorial, both in Mexico City and Norway’s Nofima AS used social media to explore how flavor pairing towards beer was influenced by culture in Argentina, Colombia, Peru, and Mexico.

Writing in Food Research International​, they report that Mexico and Peru showed a similar pattern in their beer flavor pairing.

“[T]here is reported interest in new experimental beers beyond the traditional ones within Latin American consumers [according to Euromonitor International], so this research could lead to the implementation of new products based on the beer flavor combinations obtained that could be successful in the beer market, and consequently have a positive economic impact in the field” ​they wrote.

“The current research only proposes an insight, using social media as a tool of research, which could be exploited, whether for a better understanding of cultural differences (and similarities) in consumer behavior within countries, or for the application of the information gathered in order to propose new flavor combinations.”

Study details

The authors used the commercial Synthesio platform, which provides data on both social media and mainstream media. For the time period of July 18, 2016, to July 18, 2017, over 62,000 mentions were extracted (73% of which were from social media and 27% were mainstream data), comprising 27,544 for Mexico, 24,919 for Argentina, 7,267 for Colombia, and 2,685 for Peru.

Based on a list of 65 flavors (retrieved from Google Trends), the results indicated that the most commonly paired in all four of the countries were cinnamon-ginger and coffee-toasted; ginger-pepper, tequila-mezcal, malt-hop, and butter-peanut.

In addition, there were a small number of word associations that were common in two countries, including cranberry-fruity or cinnamon-pepper in Colombia and Peru, and lime-orange in Mexico and Argentina.

All of this data allowed the authors to create 2-D flavor maps, which could be useful to understand the cultural differences in flavor pairing in the countries studied.

To conclude, the authors wrote: “However, this approach has advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, social media analysis enables the researcher to access a wide number of countries and regions in a way that could otherwise be very time and resource consuming.

“On the other hand, some consumers are being left out of the analysis, such as low income and senior consumers, due to the infrequent use of social media in those segments of the population, especially in developing countries like Mexico, Argentina, Colombia and Peru.”

Source: Food Research International
January 2019, Volume 115, Pages 303-310, doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2018.12.004
“Connecting flavors in social media: A cross cultural study with beer pairing”
Authors: A. Arellano-Covarrubias et al.

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