Think of where you look to for inspiration. Is it the news that comes across your desk each morning or the chatter around the water cooler? Or are you the type that has to leave your desk and step outside – attend a conference or just walk through a market maybe?
Now think about what makes that process stall for you. And more importantly, how do you regain balance and inspiration? In the world of product development, one must live spherically – in many directions. Innovation is born from enduring inspiration.
Before deciding what new product to put in the pipeline or on the menu, it must be understood where consumers' heads are at and where are they likely to move next. If this is not known, then it is easy to launch something at the wrong time or in the wrong direction. Moving into a recovery - consumers' behavior and desires change. Among the recovery drivers are health, economy, control and safety, sustainability, and pure motivation. The recovery drivers picked up in survey work include a shift back toward brands which in consumers' minds equal value. Cost however must co-exist with value and deal-chic is where it's at for the time being. Optimism, resilience, and recession rejection are better terms to describe how they are viewing the economy instead of fear.
Sustainable and green buying numbers are rebounding and are intimately tied to how optimistic consumers are feeling about the economy as they often abandon green items during a recession. Consumers still have concerns born of the recession so they are particularly attracted to companies which have legacy, stability, and offer reassurance and accountability for their actions. Health itself is a driver and focus includes kid's health, snacking, wellness - which is tied to quality, "pure", and portion options. When talking about motivation, the terms now capturing consumers' mindsets include simplicity, value, authenticity, playfulness, escapism, invigorating and risk taking. The latter descriptors in the list do not appear in a recession scenario, but only in a recovery. When coming into a recovery, consumers' senses are open again and they want to explore, take risks, and become adventurous again because they don't have as much fear in their lives.
The health drivers include prevention, trust, control, obesity and cognitive function. During the recession their focus was on fixing what was broken while during a recovery their focus shifts toward prevention. Vision, muscle, joint and bone health, digestion, mood and obesity are all focuses for consumers. They are seeking naturally healthy options, unprocessed items, but also convenience and clear benefit messaging. They desire control over kids' items, calories, digestion, cholesterol, salt, fat and sugar intake. Smart phone apps, seasonal and local fare, and items that provide satiety also give them a sense of control. Obesity is linked to satiety as well, along with snacking, dining out options, portion control and kids. Research encompassing cognitive function includes stress, sleep, memory, depression, relaxation, focus and energy – all major concerns for consumers. Consumers' trust issues, however, often impair their relationships with industry as research shows that however much they desire them, consumers do not trust organic, natural, free from, sustainability, food safety or health claims.
Wine and travel trends often act as couriers to the food industry as trends born in these industries make their way to the food industry. Moving into the recovery, both arenas mirror consumers' behavior with more exciting directions becoming visible. In the world of wine, smaller regions and producers, uncommon regions, lesser known grapes and varietals, and more expensive wines are once again desired by consumers. This is a classic recovery pattern. Travel destinations are also swinging wider with more exotic, remote, expensive, and isolated locations being a draw for travelers. Asian travel, for example, is showcased by Nepal, Laos and the Maldives. Caribbean and Pacific travel is back on the table. These regions in particular represent luxury and do not show up during a recession – think Bora Bora, Fiji, etc. And the poster child for the recovery has to be Arctic travel which is featured by travel to Antarctica, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Scandinavia, North & South Poles, Alaska, and Newfoundland and Labrador. Travel here represents risk taking, isolation and money.
Continued in Part 2...
Suzy Badaracco is a toxicologist, chef, and registered dietitian. She holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Criminalistics, an Associates degree in Culinary Arts, and a Masters of Science degree in Human Nutrition.