Why Did the Chicken Cross the Map?

This post was written by Shea Felde, who interned at Griffith Foods during the summer of 2015. She’s since been hired as a Consumer Insights Analyst! 

Griffith Foods’ Sensory Team brings a lot to the table, and that’s not referring to the countless pieces of chicken, crackers, and sausage they work on. One of the many tools the Sensory Team utilizes for Griffith’s clients is Projective Mapping, an interactive process of mapping foods’ flavor profiles. The goal of Projective Mapping is to create a map displaying similarities and differences across a sampling of a product category. This information can then be presented to a client to understand where opportunities may exist within the existing market landscape.​​

I was fortunate enough to sit in on a Spicy Fried Chicken Projective Mapping session led by Sensory Manager, Julia Tyrpin. Working on food-related projects all day, my eyes lit up at the chance to experience a project where I got to eat! The nine of us began the process with large pieces of butcher paper to serve as our individual maps. In total, we were given six pieces of fried chicken to taste and move around our map as we compared their flavors. For example, pieces that had similar notes of cayenne heat were paired closely together on the paper, while a piece with hints of mustard was placed further away. The mapping process was dynamic, and my pieces of chicken moved every time a new sample was introduced. 

Once we had each completed our individual maps, we worked together as a whole to create one collective map. This part of the process took a fair amount of time, and required a lot of detail when discussing the different flavor components. Other participants tasted a wide variety of herbs and spices in the samples, such as dill and celery – flavors not typically associated with something meant to be spicy. My own taste-buds were not sensitive enough to pick up such specific flavors, so it was extremely eye-opening to hear the experienced members’ input. Once the final map was created, the group talked about what pieces really embodied what came to mind when we thought of “spicy fried chicken”. We reached the unanimous conclusion that samples loaded with cayenne pepper flavor exemplified a true spicy fried chicken. With that in mind, we were able to find an area on the map that indicated the flavor profile of what spicy fried chicken is, and what it should be, for clients hoping to enter, or increase, their share of the spicy fried chicken market-space. 

This interactive project is far more than an enjoyable experience for a new Griffith intern – it’s an important tool that the Sensory Team utilizes to give clients results. Projective Mapping is one part of the large package that Griffith Foods utilizes for its clients.

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