The “Pepsi challenge” was a marketing campaign by Pepsi, where a person blindly takes sips from two different cups – one of Coke, one of Pepsi – and states which tastes better. The Pepsi challenge showed that people tended to prefer Pepsi to Coke in a blind sip test. This caused significant controversy and even led Coca-Cola to trial a change in their classic recipe, which failed disastrously.
Of course, there are many reasons why the results of this challenge may be invalid, as Malcolm Gladwell explored in his book Blink. The challenge is designed to isolate just a snapshot experience of each drink. Ergo, people tend to prefer a single sip of the sweeter, more citreous drink that is Pepsi, when they may not have enjoyed it as much if they had to drink an entire bottle.
Furthermore, multiple studies and experiments in the marketing field show a psychological phenomenon called sensation transference. This is when our perception of a sense is affected by other information such as the brand name, packaging or even the colour of the food or drink. For example, margarine was originally white but yellow colour was added to make it look more “butter-like”, greatly increasing sales.
This shows how little things that we may find insignificant can affect our decisions and first impressions. Our subconscious mind is a powerful processor that makes rapid assessments from a sea of information, while not bothering the conscious mind. We might buy a certain wine because the bottle looks more premium than another bottle. We may fall in love with someone because of a small detail like the way their nose looks. But at the same time, it can be just as easily misled as it uses only the information given to it at the time.
So the question is not how powerful your gut instinct is, but if you know yourself well enough to trust it.