Post-pandemic consumer desires create opportunities for innovative tastes

As communities around the world reopen and people get back to their favorite non-home activities, there are a lot of questions around food and beverages. What will people want —  the comfort of the familiar, or something new and different to celebrate a return to normalcy?

Chances are it may be a bit of both, according to a recent magazine article in Food Business News. And rather than forcing a choice, smart manufacturers are ramping up offerings in both categories to capture as much of a newly invigorated consumer spending cycle as possible. Who’s going to come up with the next big thing? The manufacturer who’s done their homework. That means working with a partner who’s done the footwork, including market research, as well as one who has the products and experience necessary to move on rapid market shifts.

“Understanding the future is no easy task,” says Roger Lane, senior marketing manager at Sensient Flavors. “Our exhaustive process includes data analysis from syndicated research, in-depth market excursions, consumer and trade publications, tracking social media, qualitative interviews with industry experts and speaking directly to global consumers on the ground where they live.

“We’re constantly researching and monitoring shifts in consumer behavior,” he continues. “We comb through all of this information to see where common threads exist and use those common threads as inspiration for our trends and flavors.”

When it comes to what people want in a post-pandemic environment, marketing manager Keera Perumbala notes that this is a new world — literally — for everyone. That means paying attention to what people are doing now and letting that information guide the next steps.

“A world that is perpetually going through changes makes us all lean on the past for comfort, and for most of us, childhood favorite foods and flavors trigger nostalgia,” Perumbala told the magazine. “Biologically, our brain reacts to happy memories by firing neurons that create a flood of positive feelings through the release of feel-good chemicals that is akin to being rewarded.”

At the same time, she added, there is a heightened focus on health and wellness, and consumers will continue to look to what they eat and drink to underscore a healthy lifestyle. So, in a nutshell, people want innovative tastes, the comfort of the familiar and the benefits of healthy eating. Sounds like a unicorn, the article said. So what is that going to look like? It’s hard to say, Lane says, but the search is on.

“The beauty of flavor trends … is it’s really up to the developer to decide,” he explains. “It can be almost anything! Consumers enjoy these types of concepts because they’re fun and interactive and provide them a way to interact with a product that will surprise them.”