NEW YORK: McCormick, the spices, herbs and seasonings specialist, is successfully leveraging digital data to gain an increasingly granular understanding of consumer tastes and preferences.

Jennifer LaFrance, the company's director/digital communications, discussed this topic at Advertising Age's latest Data Conference.

"We have more options and more ways to look at the data than ever before," she said. (For more, including how the firm is using website and Google search data, read Warc's exclusive report: Spices, seasoning and statistics: How McCormick is tapping big data.)

One distinctive example of this process in action is FlavorPrint, a digital property categorising every flavour into different groups and applying these labels to each ingredient and recipe in McCormick's database.

Users then answer a handful of questions about the types of food they like in order to generate an individualised profile showing where their culinary passions lie and receive tailored meal recommendations as a result.

"What this service does is: it's able to predict, and make personalised recipe recommendations, based on your unique flavour preferences," said LaFrance.

"Once we bring all those together, we're able to deliver recipes and dishes that we know you're going to enjoy, or that your family is going to enjoy. So that's going to be very, very powerful."

"Not only does it understand ingredients and how their flavour profiles change in terms of fresh ingredients, but it also understands how our spices and herbs do the same thing based on the technique that you're applying as well as the other ingredients you're marrying with it within a recipe."

Such "earned" data also has the considerable advantage of being impossible for McCormick's rivals to duplicate.

FlavorPrint launched in 2013, and has since supplied a "wealth of data", said LaFrance. Most users have been "highly engaged", too. And the more they utilise the service, the more accurate its suggestions become.

"The early returns and the early learnings are really good," she added. "We do know that they're much more brand loyal to us than others in our CRM program who are getting emails from us on a regular basis, and also site visitors.

"So we've already tracked and we now understand through loyalty card data that FlavorPrint users are purchasing more of our brand at retail than others."

Data sourced from Warc