What’s the next buzzy flavor among consumers? It’s the question food marketers tend to ask most. But here’s the more strategic question: What are the feelings and experiences that today’s consumers want to get out of their eating and drinking occasions?
In a world of palate-broadened consumers, food brands must expand their focus from flavors to include experience.
Open-minded consumers are primed to flexibly feast
Consumers’ eagerness to boldly expand their palates is in keeping with the current cultural moment, in which all consumers are increasingly prioritizing values like discovery, diversity and curiosity.
Eaters of all ages are seeking palate-expanding excitement, and they have greater access to more types of cuisine. 61% of consumers say that they are more adventurous with their food choices than they used to be, and 50% say it’s important for them to try new flavors, dishes and cuisines frequently.
Consumers are no longer comfortable in their comfort zones
At the same time, the old connections between flavor and feelings that marketers once depended on to resonate with consumers have weakened.
Emotion-based descriptors like "comfort food" just don't stand out these days. At best, comfort is a baseline eating experience, the definition of which is morphing just as interest in it is waning. 43% of the consumers we asked said they sought comfort while eating in the past, versus 38% today.
Make the Flavor Connection
Big brands have struggled to stay relevant and maintain market share in the face of these challenges. Those that jump on every new flavor trend that comes along may see short-term sales spikes, but they risk long-term loyalty. Yet those that rely on old standby messaging around emotions formerly connected to specific food types find it no longer resonates as it once did either.
All is not lost, though. Brands can still connect with consumer emotions through flavor, just not through flavor alone. The key will be to offer consumers flavor plus experience.
Our eBook, Food and Beverage: From Flavor to Feelings, provides tactical tips to help your brand forge stronger consumer connections by serving up both flavor and experience. Fill out the form on the right to download your copy now.