Viewing entries tagged
food trends

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

 

Why Trends Predictions Matter

Why Trends Predictions Matter

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. 

Savory is the New Black

Savory is the New Black

We just wrapped up Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week here in New York City and while fashion doesn’t exactly scream “food and eating” (cue the “models don’t eat” jokes), the culinary and fashion industries have a lot more in common than one would think.

The culinary world, much like fashion, is driven by seasons and trends. Chefs becoming obsessed with using liquid nitrogen or exotic foraged ingredients one year is analogous to fashion designers basing their entire season’s collection on a color or theme. Considering both the fashion and food worlds measure success with retail/purchases, it makes sense that they both rely on trends to influence customers’ desires to continuously make new purchases. In the words of Heidi Klum on Project Runway, “In fashion, one day you're in and the next you're out."

Because the culinary and fashion are industries that are always evolving, it pushes people to experiment and innovate, causing the same short bursts of hype and media attention. Think of Dominique Ansel’s cronut or David Chang’s bleeding veggie burger: food items that exploded in the media and are so popular that people line up around the block for hours just to taste one. The same media/consumer frenzy can be found in fashion. Remember the years-long waiting list for the Hermes Berkin bag?

There is also a level of luxury and “must-have” appeal that comes with pursuing the finest food, not all that dissimilar to getting your hands on the hottest $3,000 handbag. A twenty-plus course dinner at Per Se will set you back well over a thousand dollars for two people and a reservation is so hard to come by that you’re lucky to secure one several months in advance. Even though Per Se has been open for years now, it continues to be one of the most difficult tables to get because people desire the status and bragging rights of simply saying they’ve eaten there.

These obvious parallels between the fashion and the food world have also produced some delicious (pun intended) collaborations. Supermodel Karlie Kloss is such an avid baker that she decided to join forces with Pastry Chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar to produce her own line of cookies. One of the best-selling cookbooks last year wasn’t written by a world-renowed chef, but rather Sports Illustrated supermodel Chrissy Teigen.

But what I’ve found the most interesting while working at The Connect Group are the creative ways the fashion world is incorporating culinary into its own marketing efforts. For example, a few months ago when Louis Vuitton announced its first perfume, the company asked Chef Marc Forgione to create a tasting menu for their media launch event that incorporated fragrance notes from the perfume into each of his dishes. I think we’re seeing this constant evolution and dovetailing between the two industries because there’s one thing that really will never go out of style: good food.

Cassandre Pallas

 

From Packaged Foods to Restaurant Fare, Good Food Is Everywhere

 

Consumers are better-educated today than they have ever been about the foods they put into their bodies. They have easy access to information about where foods come from, how they are grown and how they will impact overall health. They watch cooking shows for inspiration, take more flavor risks when ordering out and are more apt than ever before to replicate what they’ve learned in their own kitchens.

Food trends are born and evolve in many ways and for many reasons. They can be driven by innovative chefs, economic changes, pop culture, weather trends and even agriculture. Easy access to information also means today’s consumer expects somewhat instant gratification. That means all aspects of the food industry – not just restaurants – have to be ready to provide their audiences with the exact eating experience they are demanding. A recent study by Technomic reported that more than half of consumers rank the ability to customize a dish or menu item as highly important in creating good value, taste and flavor.

Consumer customization can be especially tricky in the CPG food space. Bringing a new product to market used to take months of research and many more months (if not years) of actual development. So what are snacking and prepared-foods companies doing to deliver on consumers’ ever-changing – and ever more specific – food needs? The foodservice segment tends to evolve faster than the CPG foods space, however emerging snack brands and packaged foods companies have turned up the heat on product development in recent years. They know that consumers want to be able to find the unique flavors and textures they experience in restaurants on their grocery store shelves and they have been striving to deliver.   

Take a look below at some of the top food trends that were identified during the Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo (IFT) this year by Innova Market Insights and Food Business News. Many of these are the same trends currently driving the restaurant space, so now is the time for these important categories to be listening to each other and taking note. 

1)      Flexitarian Options
“In the United States, there could be more than 120 million people who are considered ‘flexitarians,’ so it’s an absolutely huge market, and of course much bigger than vegetarians or vegans,” said Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights.

2)      Tapping into Texture
“Front-of-pack texture claims have become more prominent and, in many cases, more specific, said Williams. “We’re seeing a lot more extreme texture claims… ‘velvety,’ ‘silky,’ ‘rich,’ ‘oozy.’ We’re seeing a lot more layers and more sophisticated products in terms of the experience it delivers.”

3)      Organic Growth and Clear Label Demands
Demand for transparency and simple ingredients has given rise to strong momentum for food and beverage products with organic or non-G.M.O. claims. Three of four U.S. consumers believe organic is healthier than conventional, and G.M.O.-free claims have surged in new product development, according to Innova Market Insights. “While this has mostly been driven by launches from small companies, you do start to see more and more bigger companies with a small organic line, and I think that’s just to say, ‘We can do it, too,’” Ms. Williams said.

4)      Veggies on the Go
“Drinking your vegetables has become “cool and trendy,” Ms. Williams said. “We’ve been talking about five (servings of vegetables) a day for 20 years or more. What’s happening now to boost this trend is the emergence of the super premium juice category.” Trending vegetables featured in global product launches include turnip (up 47% from 2014), cucumber (16%), artichoke (14%), fennel (13%), radish (12%) and beetroot (7%).

For the full list of trends, visit Food Business News.

Posted by Gennifer Horowitz

Millennials and Food Trends

Millennials and Food Trends

I always roll my eyes at the word "foodie", mostly because I think the obsession with all things culinary has become so common in our culture that it seems pointless to make it an isolated category. But this great read in the Washington Post really displays the impact food trends have had on "foodies" and millennials. It's not surprising that millennials are the biggest food-obsessed population group (they spend almost $96 billion on food according to this article). But it's particularly interesting to see how food trends break down in terms of gender, location, and race. Brands can certainly benefit from this information as they could a type of food trend to focus in on a specific group of millennials:

Men drinking craft beer, women eating quinoa, and other millennial foodie trends, ranked - The Washington Post, by: Rachel Premack