Foodservice Flavor Lifecycle Accelerates as Ingredient Variety Explodes

Technomic Inc.’s study explores innovation resulting from consumers’ proliferating demand for new, unique tastes

Forty percent of consumers say they are more willing to visit a restaurant that offers new and/or innovative flavors, according to the new Technomic 2015 Flavor Consumer Trend Report. Though classic flavors still appeal, consumers are increasingly driven to experiment with foods and beverages with unique flavor profiles.

Technomic research shows that heightened interest in new tastes has accelerated the time in which many spices, ingredients or preparation methods go from “emerging” to “mainstream.” As the variety of flavor offerings increases, consumers become desensitized to new and unique flavors more quickly. To meet demand for new flavors and maintain customers’ interest, it will be critical that operators and suppliers stay ahead of flavor trends.

Restaurants trying to plan a menu launch and marketing campaign around the next big thing might find themselves too far behind a trend and risk becoming another ‘me-too’ concept. To get credit with consumers for innovation, operators can leverage Technomic insights to catch emerging flavors early in their lifecycle and ride their rise in popularity.

Flavor research can also help ensure the right variety of new and mainstream tastes—in the right combinations—that make the menu a consistent crowd-pleaser.

Compiling findings from more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, as well as operator interviews and Technomic’s MenuMonitor and Digital Resource Library, the Flavor Consumer Trend Report also reveals:

  • 40% of all consumers and 52% of Millennials say they would like more restaurants to offer foods that feature a combination of flavors;
  • At limited-service restaurants (LSRs), 63% of consumers are very likely to try new flavors at sandwich restaurants, 62% at pizza and 62% at Mexican LSRs. When visiting a full-service restaurant (FSR), 69% are likely to try new flavors at varied-menu restaurants, followed by 67% at Italian and 66% at steak FSRs;
  • Grape is the fastest-growing lunch and dinner entrée flavor at Top 500 restaurants (16% operator incidence increase), followed by buttermilk (10%) and cilantro (9%).

Spotlight on Flavor

[View larger INFOGRAPHIC: Spotlight on Flavor]

The Technomic Flavor Consumer Trend Report is one of many topics in its 2015 Consumer Trend Report series, offering the most current analysis, insight and opportunities to help grow your business. Our best-in-class intelligence combines 50 years of foodservice expertise with critical findings from over 7,000 menus per year and nearly 30,000 annual consumer interviews.

Find more information about the Flavor Consumer Trend Report here.

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Kelly Weikel

As Director of Consumer Insights, Kelly specializes in using her background in psychology to understand the “why” behind consumer decisions. Her focus is on uncovering the underlying consumer needstates and motivations that shape foodservice behaviors and providing insights on consumer attitudes and usage across foodservice products, amenities and brands. Since joining the firm in 2007, Kelly has played a key role in developing Technomic’s Consumer Trend Reports and Access platform and manages the series of more than 20 annual studies that keep U.S. and Canadian foodservice professionals up to date on evolving trends in food and beverage categories, restaurant sectors, dining occasions, consumer segments and more.

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