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Food Marketing

Future Foodies of America

Future Foodies of America

A few weeks ago I went to visit two of my friends from college who are now married with a young daughter.  I’ve known them both for many years and one of our shared passions has always been food and cooking. Obviously since having a kid, many things in their life have changed and their apartment has been taken over by baby-phanalia. But, looking around their living room with its mini chrome “play kitchen” (including play fruit and vegetables and pots/pans) and an entire bookshelf dedicated to baby food cookbooks, I could see that their love of food has stayed the same.

The baby food industry has been steadily profitable because, well, people will always have babies. But it’s an industry that’s seen tremendous innovation and growth because of parents’ demands for increased convenience and desire for healthy ingredients. Several years ago Beech-Nut Nutrition, producer of packaged baby food, led a market research study that found that homemade purees (baby food made in people’s own kitchens) accounted for one third of total baby food consumed. Their explanation, according to this NYTimes article, was that baby food available for purchase in grocery stores wasn’t fulfilling parents’ needs so they were taking to making their own. And a recent market analyst by Technavio found that “...there is growing anxiety about the safety of the products consumers use, more so the food they consume. A preference for organic baby products stems from a concern for health and general well-being.” In response to these findings, Beech-Nut revamped their entire line of products to include organic purees and exotic ingredients such as pomegranate and quinoa. As a result of the shift towards organic, wholesome baby products, several new organic-based baby food lines also popped up in the market including Sprout, Ella’s Kitchen, and Plum Organics.

Packaging has also been a huge innovation in the baby food market. Pouches were introduced in the 2000s and have been the biggest driver in increased sales. Quality-wise, the food isn't really that different from the traditional jars but parents love them for the convenience factor. Think about how much easier it is to throw a little plastic pouch in your bag versus a glass jar. And no spoon is needed!

But updated packaging plus organic ingredients equals more expensive so some parents still prefer to create their own at home. And as more and more parents are making their own baby food, several companies have capitalized on this trend by inventing all-in-one baby food machines. Machines like Baby Bullet and Baby Brezza are marketed specifically to new parents and promise to steam/cook and puree ingredients in a minimal amount of time.

I’ve also noticed a really strong preference among my friends who are parents to raise “adventurous eaters.” As a result, parents are trying to introduce exotic flavors to their children when they’re very young. If you look the hundreds of baby food cookbooks, many try to go beyond the standard carrot and apple purees by incorporating unusual fruits or vegetables and several spices. My personal favorite I’ve seen is Little Foodie: Baby Food Recipes for Babies and Toddlers with Taste, which includes recipes for items such as pumpkin and thyme puree and apple, mint, and ricotta puree.

With increasing concerns about farming and produce and our general obsession with food, it’s no surprise that the global baby food market is forecasted to surpass $82 billion by 2022 and see tremendous growth in new products and packaging. I’m constantly shocked by the amount of stuff marketed to new parents and babies but with this predicted revenue growth, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see companies come up with new ways to appeal to new parents’ tastes. Perhaps soon you’ll visit your local grocery store and see an entire line of celebrity-chef inspired purees? Or maybe even a Blue Apron delivery service dedicated to cooking your own baby food?

- Cassie


Would you like an appetizer with that new car??

Would you like an appetizer with that new car??

Remember the days (like last year) when the only thing to eat or drink while shopping for a new car was vending machine chips and coffee that tastes more like motor oil than an organic roast.  Well, that may be changing…welcome to the new foodie world order. 

In recent months we have seen a Lexus Restaurant, The Cadillac House and BMW Restaurant, all taking advantage of the passionate food connected consumer to open up new lines to customers, by creating unique hospitality venues and restaurants.  And it’s not just the auto companies.  Retailers like Urban Outfitters recently partnered with multiple chefs to create restaurants inside their stores, Macy’s opened the new Chef Street at their Herald Square location (they also have a great food court in Chicago) and of course IKEA is famous not only for their hand-blistering do-it-yourself furniture, but their Swedish meatballs and cinnamon buns.

So what’s with combination of food & retail?  Well, we think it just kind of makes sense.  One thing we all have in common is the need to eat.  Some of us put more emphasis on the quality of the food or the experience of the meal, but retailers are creatively using the tools of culinary marketing to find ways to drive traffic, create buzz, elevate their customers experience and ultimately sell more goods.   

The indicators points towards more and more brands using culinary marketing as a powerful tool in the shed when building out their strategic marketing plans.  We live in a new world where it is hard to break through and even harder to connect emotionally with consumers, and because of that, food is an amazing tool to help tell a different story and connect on a deeper level with consumers.   

That’s the new foodie world order, and we love it!

- Lonny Sweet

A Win for Kellogg's

In 2014, Kellogg’s launched a new television ad campaign and I remember thinking, “this commercial is brilliant.” The message was a bit overt, sure – but it was smart. Take a look:

While breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, and while breakfast offerings have grown dramatically, cereal sales have been steadily declining for almost a decade. Cereal as we know it is made up of all the terrible ingredients we’re told to stay away from: sugar (bad!), artificial colorings (bad!), artificial flavorings (bad!), high fructose corn syrup (the worst!). It’s no wonder the category is suffering.

Big-brand cereal had been marketing itself the same way to kids for years: it tastes gr(rrrr)eat, has fun characters, comes with prizes and goes well with milk (good for strong bones, mom!). But cereal’s biggest fans from the 80s and 90s have grown up. They’re parents now and they make the purchasing decisions. They know more about where food comes from and how it affects their bodies, so they’re seeking much healthier breakfast options for their families.

So how can brands with dying product lines an increasingly obsolete offerings stay relevant? If parents aren’t willing to buy cereal for their kids, what could Kellogg’s do to up the ante and show that it still knew how to lead a category?

This is where I think they went right. For the first time since 2008, our economy is on the incline. Consumers are more willing than ever to indulge in new food experiences when they have money to spend. And here is where I think Kellogg’s saw its opportunity to change the game. It’s common knowledge every parent misses their own childhood. Today’s adults have fond memories of rollerblading, watching Pee-Wee Herman, playing Nintendo and pouring huge bowls of Apple Jacks when they got home from school (wait, was that just me?).

So why not combine consumers’ inherent sense of nostalgia with their eagerness to indulge? So in 2014, in its newest ad campaign, Kellogg’s stopped trying to convince everyone its cereals were a healthy breakfast choice and started embracing its venerability.

And, with the opening of the first-ever Cereal Café in NYC this summer, Kellogg’s is successfully bringing this entire concept to life right in front of our eyes. In partnership with renowned pastry chef Christina Tosi, the restaurant is telling us it’s okay – and even super cool – to enjoy Kellogg’s cereal. That the flavors you know and love can be combined with unique, modern ingredients by Tosi to become interesting new dessert applications. That Corn Pops pair well with homemade blueberry jam, lemon zest and sea salt. That an old brand we all assumed was stuck in the 90s is actually willing to learn new things.

Kellogg’s is relevant again, at least for now. It came up with the perfect recipe for combining new with old and commercial with artisanal, and the result is a treat you feel great about enjoying any time with your family. 

Posted by Gennifer Horowitz