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The secret of successful innovation? Deciphering what shoppers really want…

4 min read

Successful innovation means using trends and insights as a language of clues to help us to decipher the needs, desires, and expectations of consumers. It is important to not only understand what the trends are, but also why and how they are emerging to unlock the truly valuable consumer insights. These high-level insights, known as consumer drivers, are valuable assets when innovating and developing products and services for our evolving world. Here are three examples helping to shape industry trends for 2023 and beyond…

‘Third culture’ cuisine

The Food and Drink landscape is undergoing a constant transformation, thanks to an insatiable curiosity for exploration that indicates a broader ethos of cultural openness throughout society. Social media has enabled users to virtually globetrot, breaking down geographical boundaries to allow for safe exploration of cuisines that once seemed worlds apart. 

Traditionally, fusion cuisine has been an in-organic amalgamation of ingredients, regarded as passe for some time now. Recently however, it’s been under a bit of a rebrand. ‘Third culture’ cuisine is the new culinary buzz word, describing cross cultural inventions linked to the dual heritage of individuals. This has given integrity to playful mash ups of ingredients and formats that otherwise would have been disregarded as blasphemous. 

Cuisine fusions continue to evolve with anything from Chinese burrata dishes and miso cacio e pepe appearing on menus. With consumers actively embracing ingredients, techniques, and traditions hailing from every corner of the globe. This gastronomic renaissance has created an opportunity for daring innovation and endless opportunity.

As people struggle with serious global issues like the cost-of-living crisis, they often turn to super comforting foods. 

Comfort food

It may seem an old favourite rather than an emerging trend, or maybe it’s just perennially popular. Either way the cost-of-living crisis has led many consumers to seek out some form of reassuring familiarity and stability, and comfort cuisine is just that. 

It takes many forms, from revamped childhood favourites delighting again, to the simplicity of a cheese toastie. That’s because nostalgia and simplicity are often at the heart of this desire for food to feed the soul. 

This isn’t about health but is all about ‘food that makes you feel good’ – which is exactly what many consumers are craving to lift their spirits. One thing that’s also important to consider is what’s nostalgic and comforting to you may be different to other someone else’s idea. But across all cultures there are some consistent theme…carbs, fried foods and a sense of ‘safety’ all seem to resonate. It may not exactly be your childhood favourite, but it still needs to feel like home.

Eco-nomical food

Consumers are being forced to evaluate every pound they spend. It’s not all penny-pinching though. We’ve seen that consumers are still willing to spend if they think the product offers value for money. An area that often represents value to consumers is products that have a sustainable slant. 

It doesn’t need to promise to save the planet, but benefits like reduced wastage, longer shelf life and non-plastic packaging can all give a product a green tinged halo.       

What it really means is that consumers are becoming savvier to what things cost, and redefining what they think is ‘worth it’. This has driven a resurgence in preservation methods that previously fell slightly out of fashion, as they offer both lower cost and a long shelf life. 

Posh tinned products are hitting the market, frozen food continues to ditch its often unfair perceptions of poor quality, and pickles and ferments can be spotted everywhere from high end restaurants to street food joints as the fermentation trend continues to add punch to UK plates.

This article was written by Olly Henshall, an innovation consultant at Food Innovation Solutions, and it appears in the Tastes of Better Guide Vol 1.


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