‘Breaking Global Trends and the impact on the Food Sector’

Last Wednesday our Wild Card Breakfast Briefing was hosted by The Daily Telegraph’s Feature Editor and consumer affairs specialist Harry Wallop and Mintel’s Senior Trends Consultant Richard Cope.

Global provider of market research and trends, Mintel has conducted research into online consumption showing that technology has created inescapable levels of connectivity and exposure.  Our Breakfast Briefing focused on the breaking global trend of how consumers need to learn how to switch off from being connected 24/7 and reconnect with the real world.

Richard took us through the results in detail: we have become a nation glued to our smartphones with 49% of UK holidaymakers using their devices to access work emails whilst on holiday and 79% of UK respondents feeling like they are unable to disconnect at all.

So how do we ‘Switch Off’ and can brands help us to do this?

We looked at how brands have increasingly tapped into mindfulness and taking time out by developing apps that allow us to disconnect from devices.  DinnerTime was one example cited by Richard, an app that gives parents control of smart devices to get the kids to the dinner table and enjoy quality family time.  Certain festivals and events ask attendees not to use their social accounts, such as the Innocent Unplugged Festival but discussion quickly focused on how this could be a clever tactic by brands, who are tapping into this trend as a way to be heard. Encouraging consumers to switch off may be a way of getting brands heard.

What about food and trends?

Harry Wallop pointed out that food has become a hugely popular subject of images shared on social media channels and in particular Instagram. He went on to suggest that the success of new restaurants and food brands rely heavily on well-run social media feeds that engage with customers and promote the brand, so it would be difficult for them to ‘switch off’ themselves.  The ‘#FoodPorn’ trend has gained popularity as it taps into the consumer love of personalisation; they like to post online about what they are making, eating, drinking and ordering, etc.  Food is highly personal, visual and easy to share with friends and followers.

Food trends develop at an amazing pace, and from street foods and hybrid foods to clean eating, consumers follow food trends religiously.  The Wild Card team members interjected that in our experience an aftermath of backlash often follows.  Take clean eating and the rise of health focused chefs who are now being challenged by the likes of Deliciously Stella.

Richard and Harry concluded that food, and the eating of it, whether at home, in a restaurant or elsewhere, could be the opportunity for consumers to turn off and focus on enjoyment.  Food and retail brands can offer the analogue experience that gives consumers the chance to switch off.  Is it a bold step or is it actually a smart adoption of turning a trend into a topical marketing strategy? Think about that the next time you take a picture of your dinner to post online. How can your brand help consumers Switch Off?