Insights : Appealing to the Taste Buds and Instagram Accounts of Millennials

It has long been said that we eat first with our eyes. This has never been more true than today, with over half of all millennials admitting to buying a treat just to share it on social media.

This trend has put pressure on food manufacturers and chefs to create attention grabbing spectacles that play well on Instagram and other social platforms. Colour and theatre are key, however most novelties tends to play well. This can include an unusual narrative around how the dish was created or an exotic ingredient that the customer can introduce to his or her followers.

Examples of culinary theatre include imploding chocolate bombs, desserts served in a mist of dry ice and the traditional favourite, crêpe suzette.

The Role of Flavours
Whilst creating an edifying spectacle clearly has its merits, the demand for novelties that play well online also extends to flavours. Moreover, increased access to different cultures and cuisines has led to an explosion of experimental and exotic flavour combinations in recent years.

Some of these combinations are short lived (looking at you Lay’s Cappucino flavoured crisps), however others end up lasting the course and become more mainstream (strawberries and balsamic vinegar being one such combination).

Capitalising on Trends
Whilst stepping up their experimentation and innovation is critical, food manufacturers do not need to do this blindly. There is a wealth of data available through the use of social listening tools and other customer insight providers. Leveraging this data effectively can lead to home runs such as the Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino, which was immensely popular and brought Starbucks a lot of free PR.

Building on the popularity of unicorns in 2017, Starbucks created a product that changes colour from purple and blue to pink and also concurrently changes taste. By making this a limited edition release, another important tool in the kit of F&B players, Starbucks created a frenzy around the product that gave their brand prominence and drove both footfall and revenues.

Therefore, the key message for food manufacturers is that not only are both visual and flavour innovations critical, but that innovation cycles themselves have shortened. Therefore, it is critical that they use technology and data to their benefit. The manufacturers that are agile enough to adjust to this new reality and are able to produce suitable and on trend innovations are those that will thrive and attract millennial consumers.