Changing menus: food trends in 2017
Recent years have seen considerable shifts in the ways we in the UK buy and share our food. Two stand-out examples of this have been Deliveroo’s new take on takeaway ordering and Amazon’s foray into the delivery of fresh food. In 2017, the resurgence of eating at home and the ever-growing influence of social media are emerging as the two developments to watch. Below we explore some of the key trends we’ve noticed so far and the ways retailers might be able to exploit them.
Eating with our eyes – colour causing a stir on social media
Apps like Instagram are stuffed with bold, bright and crazy colourful foods – from rainbow bagels to mermaid toast. Deep blacks are similarly going viral, whether in the form of Oreo ice-cream or exotic carrots. Meanwhile, purple is particularly popular among health-conscious hipsters – this colour apparently indicating an abundance of antioxidants.
Retailers must recognise the power of this type of bold, stylised imagery on social media platforms that have a growing power to shape opinion. Mouth-watering, ‘food porn’ images can spread like wildfire and create an environment where the world seems to be salivating over the next sensation. Buzzfeed’s “Tasty” Facebook page has over 80 million likes thanks to fun, fast videos that make unusual recipes look quick and easy and the end results impressive.
Recent research has shown that food presented in this way can in fact produce significant changes in brain activity, so it should come as no surprise that this approach could be used to influence our shopping behaviour. Marks and Spencer’s has been ahead of the game on this front with its seductive, iconic TV adverts, but we expect to see more retailers play the sexiness card in the months ahead.
Eating out only in – raising the bar on convenient quality
Deliveroo put gourmet food at our fingertips through 2016. Now, when deciding what to have for dinner, we can navigate a world of choice without leaving the sofa. However, concerns over Brexit and the economy are leading many of us to be a little more cautious about our spending. Cooking at home is not only more cost-efficient than a restaurant-prepared meal, but it’s likely to be healthier too. We feel we should do more ourselves but - and here’s the rub – the easy access to all that professionally prepared, hugely diverse food means the standards we expect of our meals have grown higher and higher. Consequently, ways of allowing us to eat the great-tasting food we crave at a price we can afford look attractive propositions.
The challenge for retailers is to make astounding dishes not only affordable but achievable for even the most amateur of chefs. Meal kits are one way supermarkets have been doing this, while services such as Hello Fresh have been delivering their fresh, healthy kits right to customers’ doors. More recent campaigns like Tesco’s “Food Love Stories” have attempted to inspire home cooking by merchandising homely recipe ideas and relevant ingredients. However, it remains the case that the likes of Hello Fresh and Deliveroo pose a big threat to supermarkets if these do too little to keep up with consumers’ thirst for top quality made easy.
To excel in 2017 retailers will need to make gourmet the new any day, and have the courage to grab our attention by going large on this theme on social media and in-store.