A short walk around any town centre these days and it doesn’t take long to notice the increase in food and drink options. I’m thinking of the mobile or ‘street food’ options here, the coffee and pudding vans that park up on pavements, or the gazebo ‘streets’ that appear for one day or one weekend only, celebrating a particular food genre. Of course, there are also the regular street food areas often in key tourist or city centre hot spots.
These emerging food offers appear to be doing well at a time when many big name restaurant chains are struggling, such as Jamie’s Italian and Byron Burger. So clearly there is something about these smaller scale, rather rustic looking offers that appeals to shoppers. The reason this is interesting is that this trend to smaller, niche, exciting food offers is having a direct impact on shoppers taste buds and expectations. If they can find authentic Mexican street food in the middle of their town centre, then they start to re-think their feelings towards the Mexican food they see on supermarket shelves.
The rise in taste experimentation has been seized upon by Millenials and Generation Z who love turning their food into visual memories via Instagram, Snapchat or the like. So what starts as interesting and great tasting quickly becomes aspirational and exciting as they share their images with their friends and family. It’s therefore no great surprise that this context is changing their expectations of the foods that they see in supermarkets. And not just their reactions to the recipes themselves, but the way they are packaged, presented and marketed.
Whilst this trend in food is a great source of inspiration to those of you involved in NPD, it also adds considerable pressure to your marketing teams. When the out of home eating experience is so vibrant and interesting, a packaged product that wants to tap into that genre or moment has a lot to do to get anywhere near replicating the emotive nature of the out of home offer. Design teams need to work harder at the visual and design cues on pack that will trigger the out of home experience in-store. Store merchandisers need to think about which product combinations to bring together at fixture to deliver the genre solution as well as the added theatre that capture the sensory cues whilst delivering ease of shop.
Capturing the taste bud explosion happening out of home, and harnessing it’s potential in-store, takes effort and commitment. Shoppers are becoming more demanding, and less likely to accept the status quo. So getting out amongst new food experiences is a great step towards modern and up to date recipes in your portfolio. However, you need to be in amongst shoppers to truly understand what it takes to turn great inspiration into a knock out product on shelf.
By Danielle Pinnington @Shoppercentric