That old saying “you are what you eat” holds more truth now than it ever did before. Recently IIM came across an interesting article from USA Today, ” Food as Fashion: We Eat What We Are.” The gist of the article is that Americans today view food as an expression of themselves as individuals.  Thus, the awareness of the food they eat has increased substantially over time, and we at IIM have seen validation of this in our recent research. People see food as fashion and they “wear their diet like they wear their clothes.” Building on this growing trend of food as an avenue for self-expression & IIM’s 20+ years of food and beverage expertise, IIM recognizes that it is becoming more and more important for food manufacturers and retailers to unpack the emotional connection consumers have with their food.

Food As Fashion

With food chatter up 13% over last year in social media, it’s easy to hear part of the consumer food conversation. However, while active listening on social media and food trend research is great, the question remains is listening enough to capture consumers’ constantly evolving emotional connection toward food?

Capturing The Complete Picture Through Combined Approaches

If food is truly becoming fashion, then marketers need to probe deeper and more frequently to better understand the relationship between consumers and their food. Combining consumer immersive techniques such as ethnographies, digital diaries, and shop-a-longs are quickly becoming essential to completely capture consumers’ evolving relationship with food. Also, with food trends changing as quickly as fashion trends, the frequency upon which CPG companies and retailers need to consistently update their understanding through marketing research has increased. Studies conducted even once a year are seemingly not frequent enough to capture the quickly shifting sentiments of the consumer.

Plans To Establish Consumer Brand Trust

With consumer fears toward what we ingest and what is bad for us changing every day, the USA Today article insists that consumers want to “look their [food] brands in the eye without blinking.” They want to trust the companies that feed them every day. In order to establish trust in every changing world, brands need to listen, observe, and immerse themselves in their consumers’ lives and start to anticipate trends and fears.

So, the million dollar question is how can food manufacturers and retailers best rise to this daunting challenge and keep up with ever-changing consumer food tastes?

Contact us to hear about our unique ideas/thoughts on how best to establish a food-focused research plan for your brand. Our plans are designed so that you can stare back at your consumers without blinking and really establish the trust needed to take your brand to the next level.