Nov 20 2015
Weird thing, the olfactory nerve.
This smell-sensing bundle of neurons that starts in the nose connects directly with parts of the brain strongly connected with emotion and memory. That’s why Hallmark and other stores make a killing this time of year selling candles scented with cinnamon-y chemicals that evoke warm fuzzy feelings of fall and family. We’re smelling augmented paraffin but thinking about a pumpkin pie in the oven, somewhere from our rose-colored past.
Because smell is actually responsible for a high percentage of our perception of “flavor,” it’s an important attribute to think about in the world of food marketing. Food and cocktail chefs have begun using spritzed essences to enhance the consumption experiences of their products, and, reportedly, outlets ranging from mall food courts to Disneyland have for years been pumping their surrounding air full of delectable scents to help lure us to their foodstuffs .
Here on the cusp of the Thanksgiving holiday, I was thinking about a personal scent connection of unexpected importance. Last month I wrote a post about my early inspirations in the food world: TV chefs, cookbook authors and intriguing French culinary terms. But what…
Nov 13 2015
There comes a point where a trend is so long lasting that it may actually represent a shift in cultural consciousness. The current trend of consumers moving toward natural, healthy and sustainable foods is beginning to look more like society-wide standard rather than a blip in diet fads and flavor palates.
Research has shown that Americans are taking a variety of avenues to become more connected to what they put in their bodies and, with those choices, those in leadership positions at food and beverage companies have to analyze how their organizations fit with new demands.
One stark example of healthy directly affecting margins is the soda industry’s battle with changing eating habits. Over the past 20 years, consumption of carbonated soft drinks has declined 25 percent. Sodas have been positioned as the nemesis of healthy eating, a black hole of sugary sweetness devoid of any nutritional benefit, and consumers are listening and actively avoiding purchasing soft drinks.
With attacks from government policy, school lunch rooms and health experts everywhere, soft drink companies have had to grapple with the overwhelming shift in perception. In what some call a desperate move, Coco-Cola has dumped millions of dollars into scientific research in an effort to convince consumers that soda isn’t the problem and has even gone as far as to recruit reputable scientists to make a case in favor of the sugary delight.
As water steadily moves to replace soda as the top beverage, companies like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo might have to accept their fate at the bottom of the ladder. The 2016 Culinary Forecast survey from The National Restaurant Association shows that leaders in foodservice are expecting consumers to stick to natural, healthy, and responsibly sourced foods in 2016.
From the NRA’s Top 20 Food Trends for 2016
Oct 30 2015
Let’s be clear. I am not giving up bacon. Why would I eliminate such crispy, crumbly, savory goodness from my diet? And I’m not alone in my defiance.
If you’ve been in a coma (or an Empire binge-watching marathon) this week, then let me quickly catch you up on a new study that instantly achieved global attention in both traditional and social media. On Monday, October 26th, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared red meat to be “probably carcinogenic to humans” and processed meat to be most definitely “carcinogenic to humans.” The story was covered from the U.S. and Europe to Asia and Australia with the most creative (and inflammatory) headlines. My personal favorite might be: “If bacon causes cancer, what does it mean for meat lovers who want to live?”
But this is where it gets interesting.…
Oct 28 2015
Football season is upon us and I am inevitably thinking about beer. Beer & football go together like peanut butter & jelly, like Cheech & Chong. Football means big business for beer brands, and PR professionals should have brews on their minds as well. Take advantage of halftime to “tap” into these three beer trends that have the marketplace buzzing this season.
Craft Beer Finds Its Footing
Craft beer consumption is on the rise. More and more often, we are seeing Americans opt out of Megabrews in favor of local or domestic craft brews. According to Beverage Information & Insights Group, domestic craft beer sales were up over 15% in 2014, despite that fact that overall beer volume sales actually fell half of a percent from 2013 to 2014. When we’re talking about 2.8 billion cases of beer sold in the US last year, half of a percent accounts for way more beer than you might think. Megabreweries are noticing this shift in consumer purchases. In response to dropping market share, Anheuser Busch (AB InBev) recently announced a deal to acquire MillerCoors for over $104 billion dollars. If…
Oct 23 2015
Ah, fall. There’s a crisp chill in the air and, what’s that? Oh yes, the smell of pumpkin. Pumpkin spice, to be exact, likely drifting towards you from the nearest Starbucks location or perhaps the girl in UGG boots, a North Face and leggings standing next to you.
In any case, we’re excited, right? I am. Bring on the pumpkin! I found myself walking through the grocery store a few weeks back, pumpkin pie spice and a can of pumpkin puree in my cart, when I came to a halt. Before me I found a girl squatting to take a snapchat of a nearby display: pumpkin spiced dog treats. My jaw hit the floor. For two reasons:
Jokes aside, these treats do exist (so does unisex…
Oct 16 2015
Autumn is a time of harvest, reflection, change and gratitude. The season comes quickly and marks a pivotal shift of energy which is visually obvious at every turn, as we notice all of the efforts of the growing season come into fruition. The land becomes abundant with ripened fruits, like figs, apples and pears. Grapes in the wine producing regions get picked for the new wine production. Fall represents remarkable results of spring and summer growth and evidence of Mother Nature’s fierce activity all around. Farmer’s markets begin to overload racks of brussel sprouts, rosettes of cabbage, and piles of fragrant onions. It’s the end of the growing season, so naturally we grieve and begin to decompress. We may have to clean the cobwebs from the corners and put the garden beds to rest, as we say goodbye to summer once again. We begin to consume more food to prepare our bodies for winter, as we let go of things that no longer serve us and ground ourselves to earth, much like how the trees drop leaves and refocus their energy to their roots.
The cooler breezes that first sneak upon us are gentle reminders to ease off the cooling…
Oct 9 2015
The food world mourned the passing yesterday of famed Louisiana chef Paul Prudhomme. Even if you don’t recognize his name, you’ve probably enjoyed the benefits of his influence at some point, as he is noted for having made Cajun cuisine, especially blackened redfish, famous and popular across the country in the early 1980s. Today, spicy pan-seared “blackened” proteins of every kind dot the menus of mainstream chains from BJ’s Brewhouse to California Pizza Kitchen.
Thinking about this bit of history reminded me of how I first became fascinated by the world of chefs and cookery – maybe some of you reading this have similar experiences. Around the same time that Prudhomme was serving plates of the real deal to folks lucky enough to be in New Orleans, I was a tween learning about crawfish and andouille sausage by watching “Louisiana Cookin’” with chef Justin Wilson on PBS on Sunday afternoons. There was no Food Network and the culture of celebrity chefs hadn’t really arisen yet, so educational TV programming about cooking tended to be what we today derisively call “dump and stir” demonstrations on unrealistic-looking kitchen sets in studios. Except for the…
Oct 6 2015
It’s the boldest move from Burger King since it stunned rival McDonald’s with its proposal to create a McWhooper – a mashup of the Whopper and the Big Mac – to commemorate Peace Day on September 21. McDonald’s passed on the idea.
It’s commonly said that we eat with our eyes. So does Burger King’s black-bun burger have some customers seeing red … or in some cases, green? Numerous media outlets are reporting that the new burger has an unusual side effect – green poop.
Not surprising, social media’s reaction to the Halloween Whopper has run the gamut from curiosity to delight to dismay. But one thing is certain, Burger King’s new marketing campaign is garnering buzz.
This black burger isn’t completely out of left field for Burger King. It’s similar to a burger it offers in Japan. However, the Japanese burger…
Sep 16 2015
I don’t like taking a public stance. It’s not that I’m lacking opinions – I’m full of them. It’s because I could alienate people and I like to avoid that risk.
Many alcohol beverage brands are also driven by this fear. It’s equivalent to a brand identifying their target audience as “men and women over the age of 21.” They want to cast their nets far and wide to capture anyone and everyone that might possibly buy their product.
Yet in doing so, they often appeal to no one. It’s like a generic online dating profile. How am I supposed to know how to feel about a person who doesn’t express clear interests, goals, likes or dislikes? Where is the point of connection?
As a marketer, I challenge brands that want to be universally appealing to ask themselves one question: “How am I to build a meaningful dialogue with consumers when my brand personality is watered down and, frankly, boring?”
Put a stake in the ground