Closing out 2016 meant looking ahead at 2017 and trying to anticipate what it might bring. We do this each new year: reflect on what’s past and think about how it might impact what’s to come. It’s the time of year during which we ask ourselves what we could have done better, how we can turn over new leaves and how we can apply last year’s learnings to next year’s endeavors.

Thinking specifically about the world of food and culinary marketing, how can we apply the patterns of past years to determine what might transpire in the next one, and how can we leverage those learnings to make this new year the best one yet? Well, let’s look at a few of this year’s trends projections to see if we can figure it out…  

We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog delving into the minds of Gen Z. This is a generation raised on technology and immediate access to information. They’re poised to be the biggest food industry spender so it’s important to think of ways to grab (and hold!) their attention.

According to Forbes, “A new generation is about to take the food scene by storm, leaving Millennials with their constant search for what’s next in the dust. Gen Z is more likely to eat fresh home-cooked meals and healthier QSR offerings and think that cooking is cool. They prefer stove-top to microwave cooking and are more intuitive cooks. For them, the most ethnically diverse generation, ethnic foods are the norm. This 50 million strong generation – now 5 to 20 year old – have been shaped by the recession and terrorism and as a result are willing to work hard for a stable future. They are financially cautious and demand good value from the foods they consumer in and out of home. They hate corporate greed, don’t trust brands and demand transparency.”

It’s no surprise then that most major outlets are predicting that authenticity, quality and technology will continue to shape the food scape in 2017 – and it’s up to us to board this train fast. Some of the projected food trends leading us into 2017 include:

1)      Immediate access to information: People want more information, about food (and everything else) and as a result we are bombarded with too much content, fake food news and poorly designed recipes. Look for the new foodscape to be simple, stand out, engage and be multisensational – and all that comes through the next generation of food communication through gamification, edu-tainment and AVA triggered content. The digital foodscape is the language of the Millennials and Gen Z.

2)      Augmented Transparency (AT) – otherwise known as virtual reality: AT will change the way we gather information about foods in an immersive, engaging and empowering way. This technology will allow for multi-panel deep dives into the nutritional information, ingredients, sourcing all across the supply-chain to answer questions that shoppers have. From customized recipes, nutrition tours and educational events, AT will offer expert level knowledge on demand and filtered based on one’s personal interests and change the perspective of the food world into a 360-degree view.

3)      Silicon Valley & Food: It is estimated that over $1 billion has been invested in food startups and projects in 2016 alone. Why does Silicon Valley love food? Food meets the sustainability portfolio requirements for investing – and has the potential to make a positive impact on the world. High-tech food entrepreneurs like Rob Reinhart, CEO of Soylent, feels that “the food system is too complex and too fragile. Farms are inefficient due to climate and labor conditions,” and have a different model for a food brand or restaurant. For them the criteria includes having a social conscience, being health driven, solving a problem (life-hacking) and most importantly a mass-market orientation.

I think we’ll be talking a lot more about how to market to consumers through virtual reality experiences in the years to come. Audiences are demanding more immediate access to information and through technology, we’re able to bring it to them in unprecedented ways.

The team here at TCG is determined to stay ahead of the curve and think differently about making sure our clients’ messages are well received and that we’re building advocacy among target audiences. The world of technology is moving quickly and rather than resist, we’re celebrating this evolution by consistently thinking of new and innovative ways to leverage its possibilities. I’m eager to see what 2017 brings and couldn’t be more excited to ring in a new year that I’m certain will be more creative, inventive and ground breaking than the last.