MANILA, Philippines—Mintel Senior Trend and Innovation Consultant Jane Barnett shared Meta trends that are expected to shape the food industry in the next 5 to 10 years last Wednesday.
In Barnett’s one-hour long talk at the Food Innovation Convention 2014 (FINCON), she revealed the importance of understanding how the digital age has affected the buying decision of consumers, and also, what age, globalization, government authority and human interaction’s key roles are in the equation to success in the food industry.
Welcome to the new age
According to Barnett, consumers of today prefer products that can be accessed anywhere at any given time. Given the availability of internet-ready gadgets and Wi-Fi connections almost everywhere, consumers now expect to receive the products they purchase immediately.
But apart from product accessibility, people now have also taken interest in food preparation. The presence of various food-making tips and recipes online has influenced consumers to pay attention to how they can eat better and live better.
Asia’s cultural influence has significantly increased over the last years and it continues to grow, says Barnett. As Asia is home to 60% of the global population and its food has an expanding function in the west, researchers in the food industry anticipate that the world’s largest continent could be the next big thing in the global food production scene.
The borderline separating the east and the west is no longer of major concern as people are becoming more particular about what they want now. The Korean wave for one is a good example for this.
Age is not just a number
How the young and the old differ in terms of buying decision and preferences is something that the food industry must not disregard, at all cost. While the younger generation gives more importance to image (appearance, health, and popularity), the older one’s concern is more centered on remaining active despite (literal) seniority.
In targeting the youth, social media is one of the best platforms to utilize in reaching out to this populace. And it might not be enough to just simply reach out to them. An engaging and viral campaign is one potential ticket to the youth’s interesting circle.
The elders’ requirements, on the other hand, are simple and straight. They prefer food products that are nutritious, functional, and “swallowable”. Food recipes that are teachable are also more desirable for this market as it will help them engage with other generations. This may not matter to someone who lives alone, however, to multigenerational households; this is considered one factor that can bring them closer together.
Lastly, they do pay attention to a product’s packaging. According to findings, a clean and clear packaging is more attractive for the elders.
The rate of automation and mass production is growing rapidly that by 2030, it is projected that 50% of jobs will be technologically outmoded by then. If this persists, this will position human interaction as a luxury service in the food production industry, ergo a value-added one.
Even though we are now in the digital age, findings prove that some of the most successful campaigns are materials that highlight human interaction and relation. Therefore, despite the smartphones and tablets, human interaction must never be dropped from the equation.
Did you know that the Danish government once imposed tax on saturated fats? Though it was abolished one year after it was implemented, this goes to show that governments will not sit down and watch while issues like obesity, diabetes, and other unhealthy diet-induced conditions continue to proliferate.
Tariff on saturated fats may not have been proven efficient due to various management and implementation issues. However, this does not mean that health will not be a major concern in the years to come. That is why while food companies continue to develop strategies on food innovation, nutrition must always remain a major factor in the scenario.
These Meta trends however are just a general overview of how the market is. For food industries to understand better their specific target population, Barnett suggests investment on syndicated market research. Today where data is an easy requirement to acquire in the research field, the more crucial part of market research now is the data analysis and interpretation, and how these can help companies devise fitting strategies that will help make their innovations work.
The Food Innovation Convention 2014 themed “Achieving Excellence through Innovation: Creating New Products and Building Customer Trust” was held last March 19-21 at the InterContinental Manila Hotel in Makati City. Dr. Clair Hicks was the main speaker of the convention.