CHICAGO – Increasingly, consumers seek more than sustenance from the food and beverages they buy. They desire discovery, enjoyment and excitement, according to Mindy Hermann, a market analyst for Innova Market Insights.

“Globalization has sparked the adventurous consumer’s curiosity,” Hermann said during a presentation at IFT18, the Institute of Food Technologists' annual meeting and food exposition in Chicago. “Consumers want to discover new experiences. They may not necessarily be able to hop on a plane and go to another country, but they can experience another country through food, through world flavors and through unique stories.”

The number of global food and beverage launches with a “discover” claim increased 52 percent from 2016-17. One in 10 European and North American consumers are driven by novelty and variety when buying food and beverage products, according to Innova Market Insights.

“Adventure is another part of discovery; giving people the sense of adventure without leaving their own homes,” Hermann said. “Food trucks have done a tremendous amount to bring global cuisines to a local level and give people a sense of adventure without leaving their hometown.”

Street food flavors are growing in packaged snacks and ready meals. Around the world, consumers are adopting foods and flavors from other countries, Hermann said. Nearly a quarter of food and beverage launches tracked with an ethnic flavor are from private brands.

Street Food“What you see happening is regions pulling away from their own foods and turning to other cuisines,” she said. “In the US over the past five years, products with American flavors are down, Mediterranean flavors are up. But if you look at Latin America, Latin American flavors are down, and American flavors are up. There’s this blending of borders and more and more people incorporating into their cuisine foods from other cuisines.”

Brands may engage with consumers by telling the unique story behind the product or company. Global food and beverage launches tracked with a “traditional” claim posted 10 percent average annual growth from 2013-17. Global food and beverage launches tracked with a social ethical claim grew 20 percent last year over 2016.

“There are all sorts of do-good narratives on packaging to help people understand the story as part of the discovery process,” Hermann said.

Product developers may seduce shoppers with indulgent flavors and textures and enticing language, Hermann said, suggesting such descriptors as “sumptuous,” “tingly,” “dreamy” and “heavenly” on packaging. One in 10 US and UK consumers are influenced by texture and flavor claims when buying food and beverage products.

“Enjoyment is paramount,” Hermann said. “Consumers are expecting more, so brands are enticing consumers with strong visual language, sensory language, indulgence and also romance language.”

Also on the rise are global food and beverage products tracked with a “share” claim, up 50 percent from 2016 to 2017.Share Size

“We’ve gone from family size to share size because the family is being redefined,” Hermann noted.

Unexpected flavor combinations and limited-edition products generate consumer excitement, Hermann said. Interactive packaging and exclusive content or rewards may also build buzz.

“As consumers desire newness and variety, brands are using bolder flavors, bolder colors, novelty flavors, packaging and bringing in that element of surprise that gets consumers excited about the product and gets them buying over and over,” she said. “It allows people to create social media buzz, so they feel like their own personal currency has gone up because they have something interesting and beautiful to share with their friends and family.”