Consumer tastes and preferences, have for long been the driving force for the food and beverage industry around the world. Brands previously invested a lot of time, money and efforts in understanding the requirements of the consumers and then developed products based on their research. Using this research as the base, they made modifications in the product at regular intervals in order to ensure they are offering something new to their consumer. This was a convenient process followed by most F&B brands until the inception of digital media.
Today’s digital and socially connected world through the internet, website, blogs, mobile apps and online shopping has taken the food and beverage industry by storm and has changed its dynamics. Consumers are now stating their personal food and beverage preferences out loud and sharing it with friends and the public through social media platforms.
Information is being disseminated rapidly today, unlike the previous times where one relied on word of mouth, advertisements or reviews in print. Today at the click of a button they know exactly what are the latest food trends, whether it is a new place to visit, a dish to try or an ingredient to use. The rapid spread of information is shaping people’s tastes and preferences. The influence of media and other social platforms is sure to trigger continuous change in the preference patterns of consumers and it is time the F&B sector worldwide adapts to the change and uses it positively to their advantage.
Social media and other media handles provides brands with a free platform to interact with their consumer audience and market themselves effectively. It helps marketers and brands to get immediate feedback and track the popularity of their brand. In fact trends in the F&B industry can guide the industry brands to set up and modify their products accordingly.
In order to grab the attention of an increasingly busy consumer base, food and beverage manufacturers will need to continue tailoring existing products and introducing new ones, to meet the ever-changing tastes and behaviour of their target audience.
Some of the major trends in today’s F&B sector that industry brands need to take note of are as follows:
Demand for healthy snacks: Movie and television stars, bloggers and other social media influencers have been saying about well being through proper diet and consumption of nutritious food. Unlike earlier weight loss ideas, the focus is now more on health benefits like better sleep pattern and increased energy. Therefore there has been a great increase in demand for healthy product like quinoa, chia seeds, flax seeds, sprouted brown rice etc owing to it numerous benefits. Consumers are preferring food products that claim these values and focus on overall well being.
Matching consumer values: Consumers today are more educated and aware of global issues. They seek brands that match these values – like healthy and sustainable products. Consumers today want transparency on what they are eating and drinking – where it’s sourced, how it’s made, environment-friendly initiatives’ and other such factors. F&B brands should be more transparent with these and include them their product details with appropriate market focus and advertising.
The convenience factor: Consumers today are looking for more convenience like being able to buy ‘food-on-the-go’. This trend is more for snacks and breakfast items as consumers rush to work. Food products especially breakfast and snacks must have this convenience factor inbuilt for the fast-paced workforce.
Demand for vegetarian and plant based foods: There has been a demand for foods which are vegetarian based and non- meat. Some celebrities like Jamie Oliver, for example promote ‘Monday as ‘meat-free’ which has an influence and shapes trend in this direction to cite an example.
F&B companies must follow trends and adapt their products accordingly, both inside and outside the product packaging. There must be marketing focus and rebranding to adapt to these new trends for brand success.
*By Priyanka Mittal, Director India Gate, KRBL