Tag Archives: Food

Live from #TMRE14: Food Futures: A Portrait of the Food Connected Generation

Being a prolific foodie, which I learned was a word with negative connotations, I was pleased to attend the Food Network and Cooking Channel VP talk about millennials from Gabe Gordon.

Talking about an interesting juxtaposition of millennials, who don’t inherently watched TV, connect with shows, celebrities and reality television. The joy of cooking is an analog and senatorial experience in the digital world for the younger generation. The joy of cooking has grown exponentially over time, as well as just the need to consume more interesting food.

In terms of drivers, Facebook remains the key driver of conversations on food, as does Pinterest for repeat sharing, ideas and inspiration. Suprisingly, a social media addict’s favorite Instagram falls to the bottom of the pack.

Some interesting factoids include

  • Consumers are hungrier – 70% of people are finding food more important than 4 years ago!
  • Roughly half of food connectors are millennials, and half of those are me. Men have a deeper relationship with food than millennial women
  • 90% of women think a man that cooks is a turn on. 77% of men find cooking makes them feel good about themselves.

Probably one of the most disturbing thoughts was that millennials like their parents and GenX don’t, which is why the family phenomenon and the learning from parents is coming back as a saving behavior via food.

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh.

Live from #TMRE14: Leveraging Superstar Products to Build Brands

Fresh from the heels of the New York Food and Wine Festival (NYCWFF) was Cynthia Soledad of Whirlpool talking about bringing the iconic KitchenAid Brand, a superstar in its category, to build other brands. For, like many feel, KitchenAid is more than a mixer – it is a kitchen lifestyle brand.

The cycle that unraveled from understanding the consumers of three segments ranging from enthusiasts to obsessers was as follows: Aspire (the emotion of trying to do something), seek (the quest for finding the right products, which is where KitchenAid comes into the picture), learn (using the tools as your “sous-chefs” as the brand puts it) and master (to become a chef in your own right). An interesting cycle with the analogy of being an engineer or any corporate career by day, but a chef by night.

The findings reflected that in the kitchen, you are an appreciator as well as a critic. However, the three key truths that were found were that tools from Kitchen Aid are important for creative facilitation, identity reflection and usage outcome. Of which, usage outcome was most important with both small and large appliances.

A fascinating tale of unraveling consumer stories through primarily qualitative research, the two lessons that stay in my mind that can be applied to virtually any category are: consumers are born inherently irrational, and a brand can truly win by playing on the intersection of its equity with deep human needs.

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh.
Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh. – See more at: http://themarketresearcheventblog.iirusa.com/2014/04/crowdsourcing-and-social-media.html#sthash.SDOBGemC.dpuf
Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh. – See more at: http://themarketresearcheventblog.iirusa.com/2014/04/crowdsourcing-and-social-media.html#sthash.SDOBGemC.dpuf
Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh. – See more at: http://themarketresearcheventblog.iirusa.com/2014/04/crowdsourcing-and-social-media.html#sthash.SDOBGemC.dpuf

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at s.sharma@skimgroup.com.
Follow him on
@sssourabh. – See more at: http://themarketresearcheventblog.iirusa.com/2014/04/crowdsourcing-and-social-media.html#sthash.SDOBGemC.dpuf

Where is the ice cream industry going? (Hint: Away from nostalgic memories)

Things change as we grow up. And its not just us, its also the things around us. So why are we always surprised? 

I am a foodie in disguise. Or perhaps not so much, as evident from my food blog. But above all, I specialize in desserts. And being wired into marketing and trend-watching, I have wondered many times about where the ice cream industry is going. Witness it in Where’s my Ice Cream again, mommy? An ode to nostalgic ice cream.

Classic ice cream, as we knew of it as kids, has now evolved into a whole new plethora of ice cream treats. From meaty to vegetably, from spicy to cheesey, and from an entire meal to a teatime substitute, I have identified several trends that I have tasted, relished, appalled, and naturally, documented. Kids, to whom ice cream is conventionally marketed, may no longer be
the target segment for the out-of-the-box flavors, explaining the
namesake title of this article. Like many businesses, the ice cream
business has to also grow and stretch beyond traditional norms, which is
why brands like Haagen daaz choose sexual connotations to position themselves as an adult brand, or why the existence of an evolution of ice cream trends exists
in the first place. The  new target market comprises of invidividuals
that are not segmented by age or demographics, but by tastes and mindsets. I feel that my Mindset Framework applies best to ice cream eaters, driven so strongly by the emotional
connection with this delectable treat!

The ice cream market itself can perhaps never decline; it has however
reached maturity, thus explaining the many trends that ice cream makers
have taken to keep it alive. My curiosity about how this happened has led to a mapping of the
evolution of ice cream, and what may lie in store! Though the trends are
not distinct from each other, with various combinations that give rise
to even more diversity, the following figure maps the evolution, trying
to grasp the strategy behind each phase.

Business Management
At
the onset, generally ice cream companies behave like a business. They
make something, sell it, keep selling it, see what sells, and continue
selling more of it. Kaboom, you have a market, a business, profits, and
ultimately, the economies of scale make the ice cream somewhat
commoditized. This explains the variety in quality amidst so many
classic makers.

Infiltration
On
loving vanilla ice cream, who wouldn’t love it with chocolate chips? Or
walnuts? Or a swirl of chocolate? Thus begins an era of infiltrating
ice cream with other favorites, at the time limited to things like
chocolate chips or gooey swirls of caramel and chocolate. Ice cream
floats can fall into this category too, which interestingly are making a
comeback, as witnessed by the street long lines outside Philadelphia’s Franklin Fountain.

Skinny and Healthy
On seeing the expanding waist sizes
and increasing health concerns, fat free and sugar free versions of
aforementioned ice creams begin to hit the market in this phase. The
target market here is those consumers who want the indulgence, but want
to walk out wearing the same pair of pants. This is a profitable way to
diversify the product, as it targets a large and growing segment. Less
sugar, sugar substitutes, smaller portions, and sometimes misleading
claims rule the roost here.

Super-premium Difference
Realizing the commoditization of the business, which rightfully erupted from the business management phase,
naturally ice cream creators in this phase look for a way to better
differentiate their product. So, taking inspiration from luxury
products, super premium ice cream is introduced, to give consumers the
ultimate indulgence, a divine treat, at a higher price point. Lovers of
ice cream inevitably fall for the trick, and at times, the taste is
indeed to swoon for! Today every brand has this, with much competition and merger activity on the battleground, but the classic Dove visuals
of rich melting swoops and rings strike a recollective memory bell. And
when the Godivas and Ghiriadellis begin to enter the ice cream market,
its easy for any marketer to see that the industry is booming.

Co-branding Smartness
Isn’t
it nice when you can dive into two indulgences with one scoop?
Friendship blossoms between brands of chocolate, cookie dough, cookies
and candy, and the world of ice cream, and the infiltration phase is repeated, this time with infiltrants that actually come with brand baggage. Co branding becomes the smart, creative and breakthrough business model.
Although perhaps an extension of diversifying from the business phase,
this is a new enticement for hungry consumers who can get their Snickers
and their ice cream all in one! And hey, its not bad if ice cream
makers can share their costs and profits alike with Reeses peanut butter
pieces, since the more eggs there are in the basket, the more likely it
is that they will be safe together, or crack together. Cannibalization?
Brand competition? Leave these worries to the corporates while we lick
on.

Inspired Flavors
This is probably where we are now, given the recalls on Nestle Toll House cookie dough and the overdose of co-branding. Similar to the diversification of food inspired body care products,
this is perhaps an era of drawing inspiration from the unlikeliest of
foods, ranging from rose petals, basil and cinnamon, to pumpkin, cotton
candy and bubble gum. Toss in a bit of the original fragments, be it
mint leaves or petals or strawberry pieces, and the experience is
authenticated. While the flavor craze is probably restricted to
boutiques and ice cream parlors, it may not be long before wacky
combinations begin hitting grocery stores, which are already densely
packed with flavors ranging from watermelon and grapefruit to all the
aforemnetioned trends, so gleefully glaring out of identical packaging
and confusingly similar artwork.

Meal inspirations and Combinations
This is what I have noticed a surge in globally. One may call it the
Willy Wonka Phase. Instead of simply having flavors, and pieces of other
infiltrants, entire meals are being combined to give you an ultimate
ice cream experience. Peanut butter and jelly ice cream sandwiches
replace the classic sandwich; bourbon ice cream with crunchy corn flakes
are akin to a breakfast; and as already discussed in the predecessor of this article,
these can foray into the savory category too! Ice cream made with salad
ingredients, vegetables, sesame seeds, combined together with trends
from previous eras, all formulate a world that Tim Burton would enjoy
crafting into a whimsical sattire.


 
Makes you wonder what happened to good old ice cream right? After all, where’s my ice cream, mommy?

Sourabh Sharma,
Communication & Social Media Research Expert at SKIM, an international
consultancy and marketing research agency, has a background in engineering,
marketing and finance from the University of Pennsylvania, and the Wharton
School and Rotterdam School of Management. Having worked in marketing and
product development at L’Oreal, followed by a stint in management consulting,
he now passionately enjoys the world of social media, and can be found on every
platform with his alias sssourabh. He is a food critic and a fashion writer,
and documents these alongside strategy on his blog called
3FS. He may be reached at
s.sharma@skimgroup.com. Follow him on
@sssourabh.
 

Dynamics of Permissability in Food and Beverage

Today’s blog post comes from Dr. David Forbes, Ph.D., of Forbes Consulting, an exhibitor at The Market Research Event 2012.

 Consumers everywhere are exposed to a constant preoccupation with health and nutrition. Packaged, processed food and beverage products are often criticized because they represent a departure from ‘simple, natural whole foods’ that are the archetype of healthy eating. At the same time, consumers are attracted to the convenience benefits, as well as the tastes and textures of today’s food and beverage products.

To resolve the conflicts between an aspiration to eat healthy while taking advantage of the vast range of highly desirable packaged food and beverage products, consumers create what may be called ‘permission structures.’ Permission structures are lines of reasoning about products, and about people, that reduce the potential for values conflict between packaged food consumption and a desire for healthy eating lifestyles.

Our research has led us to identify four categories of permission structures, each of which operates in a range of situations to support consumers’ decisions to use packaged foods and beverages:

  • Nutrition-Based Permission: tied to the ingredients of the product itself
  • Situational Permission: linked to consumer lifestyle constraints or requirements
  • Emotional Permission: tied to psychological benefits of a product
  • ‘Not Me’ Permission: involving denial of responsibility for the consumption decision

These permission structures may operate separately or in combination whenever a consumer chooses to consume a packaged food or beverage that could pose a values conflict for the consumer ‘ including situations where moms and dads make purchases, mindful of their responsibilities to be ‘good parents.’

Nutrition-based permission structure is created when the consumer focuses on the individual highly symbolic ingredient, and shapes an attitude toward a product based on this ingredient. In psychological terms the consumer ‘takes the part for the whole,’ and reacts to the product overall on the basis of the ingredient.

  • ‘Good’ ingredients often attain positive status because they are linked to the ‘simple, natural, whole’ food archetype of nutrition such as:
  • ‘It’s OK because it has low/no _______ [salt, high fructose corn syrup, calories].’
  • ‘It’s OK because it has/is made from _______ [organic fruit, whole grains].’

Situational permission structures are the way consumers tell themselves ‘I’m doing the best I can.’ In this case, meeting the basic need of sustenance ‘ vs. going hungry or staying thirsty ‘ takes priority over the quality of the sustenance.
Two types are common:

  • Rush Permission: ‘I won’t have time to eat otherwise.’
  • Conflict-Avoidance Permission: ‘My child/teen/husband will at least eat something.’

Emotional permission structures are created whenever the act of eating or drinking moves outside of the functional goal of sustenance. When the emotional benefits of sensory pleasure take precedence over the act of eating or drinking, the rules of nutrition are temporarily suspended.
These are often seen in:

  • Reward Permission: ‘You’ve done _______, so you can have a _______.’
  • Indulgence Permission: ‘Oh what the heck’ live a little.’

‘Not me’ permission is created when the circumstances of the purchase or consumption allow the adult decision-maker to deny responsibility for the consumption decision ‘ creating a situation where the values system is not in operation. Two types are noted:

  • Not For Me: ‘I wouldn’t buy these except that my children love them.’
  • Radar Eating: Perhaps the most psychologically intriguing permission structure is typically created when a snack is in bite-sized form. This snack is often accessed in a container, which has more than one portion. The container is opened and the consumer eats pieces from the container while engaged in another activity (e.g., watching television). The consumer proceeds to eat most or all of the container and is then ‘surprised’ to find that he/she has done so. In order to be subject to ‘radar eating’ permission, a snack typically requires eating characteristics that make consumption truly automatic:
    • Crunch (signals time for another piece when sound disappears)
    • Good mouth clearance of flavor (prevents satiation)
    • ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole bag!’

Understanding the psychological permission structures can help marketers appreciate the decisions consumers make to consume food and beverage products. This improved understanding can prove invaluable to marketers who seek to sell their products based upon a deeper understanding of how the consumer makes choices.

For more information on Forbes Consulting please visit http://www.forbesconsulting.com/

Speaker Profile: Simon Uwins

Today, we would like to introduce you to our next keynote speaker, Simon Uwins. The Market Research Event will take place from October 13 – 16, 2008 in Anaheim, California at the Disneyland Hotel. Simon Uwins is the Chief Marketing Officer of Fresh & Easy, a chain of grocery stores that are located in southern California, Nevada and Arizona.

Tesco, a British grocery giant, decided to start preparing market research in 2005 to move a chain of grocery stores into the United States. They sent Uwins to the US to spearhead the project. To conduct extensive market research, Uwins and his team went to grocery stores existing in the areas, and also interviewed locals about their preferences when shopping and about other supermarkets. Their major findings revealed that customers wanted fresh, affordable food that was close to home. Their business model then focused on being a neighborhood store providing all the foods shoppers wanted in one stop. In different areas, they conducted ethnographic research in order to stock the stores with the preferences of the neighborhood. Tesco is one of the largest retailers in Great Britain, and are committed to investing $2 billion in the Fresh and Easy stores. They recently took a three month break from opening stores in the United States to readjust to the preferences of their new customer base: increased product selection, more colors in the stores, and more deals on the foods they’re selling.
Here is a video of Simon Uwins explaining the set up of the Fresh & Easy stores: http://www.venturacountystar.com/videos/detail/fresheasy0208/
Simon also takes time to write the Fresh and Easy blog: http://www.freshandeasy.com/blog/
We invite you to come see Simon Uwins at The Market Research Event as he presents his keynote speech on Wednesday, October 15th, CMO Spotlight: Fresh & Easy: Uncovering New Opportunities in Retail Through Research.
(Sources: ABC News, Daily Breeze, Hub Magazine, 7 News ).