The folks at California Olive Ranch are conducting an interesting marketing experiment. In my supermarket currently are 500 ML bottles of their Extra Virgin Olive Oil, evenly distributed between olive oils that say “Mild & Buttery” and “Rich & Robust”. (There’s also a label that says “For Everyday meals” which is the language on their larger bottles; I expect it’s left over from the previous batch.)
As far as I can tell, the olive oil within each of these bottles is the same. So what is California Olive Ranch up to?
This is an excellent oil I buy in quantity when it’s on sale. Though it is not a throat-burner it’s definitely higher in phenols than most olive oils on the shelf so no way is it “Mild & Buttery”. If people buy bottles so labeled, and don’t return them or complain, what have we learned?
a/that consumers really like a milder oil, so California Olive Ranch should change its configuration. (For the test, it’s a lot cheaper to just change the label.) Or,
b/that consumers have more sophisticated taste buds than we expect and don’t fear strong flavors. (No, in that case they’d choose the “Rich & Robust”, yes?) Or,
c/that many people don’t really pay attention to what they’re eating and will agree it tastes like whatever you tell them it tastes like. (This is the cynical marketing strategy used by mass-market American beer brands.)
If you like, find the bottles and do your own test and report back. I’d love to know what California Olive Oil is really up to here.