Learning to Become a Taste Expert

55 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2018

See all articles by Kathryn Latour

Kathryn Latour

Cornell University

John Deighton

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit

Date Written: June 1, 2018


Evidence suggests that consumers seek to become more expert about hedonic products to enhance their enjoyment of future consumption occasions. Current approaches to becoming expert center on cultivating an analytic mindset. In the present research the authors explore the benefit to enthusiasts of moving beyond analytics to cultivate a holistic style of processing. In the taste context the authors define holistic processing as non-verbal, imagery-based, and involving narrative processing. The authors conduct qualitative interviews with taste experts (Master Sommeliers) to operationalize the holistic approach to hedonic learning, and then test it against traditional analytic methods in a series of experiments across a range of hedonic products. The results suggest that hedonic learning follows a sequence of stages whose order matters, and that the holistic stage is facilitated by attending to experience as a narrative event and by employing visual imagery. The results of this multi-method investigation have implications for both managers and academics interested in how consumers learn to become expert in hedonic product categories.

Keywords: learning, expertise, holistic, analytic, sensory, hedonic, wine, taste

Suggested Citation

Latour, Kathryn and Deighton, John, Learning to Become a Taste Expert (June 1, 2018). Harvard Business School Research Paper Series # 18-107, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3189072 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3189072

Kathryn Latour

Cornell University ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

John Deighton (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School - Marketing Unit ( email )

Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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