What role does flavour play in consumers’ purchasing decisions?
“Flavour remains one of the key attributes when choosing food and drink, giving brands a broad scope to innovate and engage with consumers globally. Flavours can also offer new and exciting ways to engage with consumers. For instance, 50% of US consumers claim that taste is their primary driver when deciding what to eat. Also, in some categories like savoury spreads, a third of US consumers agree that product taste is more important than their health claims.”
What are consumers typically looking for?
“It largely depends on the category, but in some cases, consumers are looking for purely indulgent flavours; for flavours and ingredients that not only can provide a unique taste, but also, some health benefits. In the wake of the pandemic, consumers have increasingly turned to international cuisine flavours in retail, as this is something they’ve missed out on as they have not been able to travel or eat out.”
Could you pick out some interesting flavour trends over the past few years?
“Trends, in their nature, are very dynamic and constantly evolving based on consumer needs and expectations. But we have clearly seen the increase of focus on health and how flavours and ingredients can benefit consumers to support their complex health needs. So, whether it’s fewer sweet flavours or more natural formulations and better-for-you ingredients that can offer actual unique flavour profiles, it’s all in demand.”
“Another big factor that impacts how consumers perceive flavours, is social media. It offers a platform to consumers to share their experiences with brands and products, and for brands to engage with adventurous consumers. Social media also encourages brands to think about this engagement in a slightly broader way by not only offering unique, interesting flavours, but also various textures, aromas and colour in combination with those flavours that can actually enhance consumer experiences and give them a reason to share it with others, creating broader exposure for brands and their products.”
How have manufacturers responded to meeting new flavour demands?
“Manufacturers are constantly working on new flavour propositions, and ‘What’s the next big flavour?’ is probably one of the most common questions we hear from our clients.”
“Undoubtedly, new technical innovations allow brands to excel in their flavour and texture propositions. For instance, in the ice cream category, new technological abilities allow for adding whole ingredients that not only offer new flavour and texture experiences, but also offer strong visual stimulation that encourages social media sharing.”
“When it comes to ingredient sourcing, sustainability comes to the fore. Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in the environmental impact of shipping, growing, and making products, and this will further become a driving force determining environmental commitments of various manufacturers.”
What are some of the challenges that manufacturers have been facing in this regard?
“Meeting consumer demand is always challenging, but also very exciting. Whether it’s through the introduction of flavours, working on the development of health cues, or catering to the pure need for indulgence. The key in resolving these challenges is to understand your target audience, their needs, and their expectations. That would help brands to understand whether the product or variant needs to be purely flavoursome and indulgent and whether it carries some health propositions.”
What opportunities do you see for manufacturers in exploiting consumers' demand for flavour?
“Flavour profiles offer a fantastic way to engage with consumers. Through the introduction of a new/unusual flavour, brands can shock and surprise consumers, offering new ways to share experiences online which also works as an excellent advertisement for a product. Flavours, that can be achieved through better-for-you ingredients, can offer brands an opportunity to offer healthy, yet flavoursome options. And obviously, flavour is often associated with pure pleasure and indulgence, so that in itself is an excellent ground to connect on with consumers.”
What key lessons do you hope attendees will take away from this session?
“I really hope this session will offer inspiration from different categories and regions, and will offer a deeper understanding of consumer needs and expectations when it comes to food and drink products, their flavours as well as other attributes.”