Each January is jam-packed with trend analyses and predictions, and the food/beverage/nutrition world is no exception. Here, instead of restating what was or professing to know what will be, our cross-category team of food marketing experts shares its hopes and dreams for the good, the bad and the not-yet-developed trends.

FOOD MEDIA – Max Martens

A trend I hope to see continue:  

Printed recipe illustrations

Seeing recipe ingredients deconstructed and laid artfully side by side demystifies complex dishes and gives us publicists a way to gain awareness for ingredients that aren’t always visible in a finished dish.

HappinessIs (Source: HappinessIs blog)

A trend I hope to see fade:

Listicles

They aren’t unique to food journalism, but in this genre I’m tired of seeing the likes of “the five pancakes to eat before you die” and “top 20 restaurants with secret menus.”

A trend I hope to see start:

Some sort of reconciliation between the extremes of typical eye-grabbing consumer food headlines

Deprivation and decadence. Diets vs. deliciousness. Let’s face the fact that food can be really good ­AND good for you if you do it right.

 

FOOD + SOCIAL MEDIA – Rachel McPherson

A trend I hope to see continue:

Beautiful, Imperfect Content

No one is Martha Stewart, and whose dishes really look like styled stock photos? Brands are taking a cue from bloggers to create authentic visuals. And fans are lovin’ it. It’s closing the gap between what’s branded content and what is user-generated.

Love and Lemons (Source: Love and Lemons for the NC Sweet Potato Commission)

 

A trend I hope to see fade:

 Quantity Over Quality

Any foodie can recognize quality ingredients, so why can’t food brands start to see the value of quality when talking about their fans? So many companies think that running a fan acquisition sweepstakes and bumping up their followers will garner more reach. As we see platforms like Facebook become pay-to-play, one can’t help but wonder the point of it all. Brands need to realize that having a mass following is just not enough these days. Instead, they need to acquire true, loyal brand advocates who will not “unlike” or “unsubscribe” as soon as the contest is over.

A trend I hope to see start:

Superfans

A brand’s most valuable resource is its fans. They are your biggest advocates and will tell your story better than any ad. Plus, people trust peer recommendations over brand communications any day. Savvy companies are starting to identify “superfans” to become content creators. For food brands, we’re lucky, because many people cook and everyone now knows how to take a shot of their meal. If you aren’t leveraging this new trend, you’re missing the point of true engagement on social media.

FOOD AS A LIFESTYLE – Emily Valentine

A trend I hope to see continue:

Attention to food waste

There’s only so much we as individuals can do to address the monstrous food waste issues highlighted by hundreds of studies and infographics. But if each of us infused a bit more Depression-era mentality into our day-to-day lives, it could make a big impact. Trade those  massive trips to Costco for quick grocery runs every three days, stock up on frozen produce when you know the fresh stuff won’t last, use that leftover chicken breast to make sandwiches or soup. Encouraging this type of commitment to an un-wasteful lifestyle creates all kinds of brand-building and marketing opportunities for food providers.

Treehugger.com (Source: Treehugger)

A trend I hope to see fade:

Gluten-free living

If one more of my friends tells me she’s “trying not to eat gluten,” I’m going to scream loudly in her face. I get that some people have real allergies – that’s a different story. It’s the misconceived notion that eliminating wheat-based products from your diet will solve everything from acne to infertility that makes me crazy. When the wheat folks decide to rebuild their brand, I’ll be first in line to help.


A trend I hope to see start:

Culinary tourism for the masses

When you travel, you use Yelp to sniff out good restaurants and Airbnb to rent local homes. But what if you had an app to pair you with local food lovers for an authentic experience with the food scene. Stroll through the city market to chat with local growers … grab lunch from the favorite street food vendor… and end the day with a home-cooked meal at a local’s home. You’d eat great food, discover new cultures and make new friends along the way.

NUTRITION – Joanne Tehrani, MPH, RD

A trend I hope to see continue:

Attention to gut health

More studies that look into the possible connection between gut flora and chronic diseases. The more we uncover, the closer we get to finding out how certain diets and foods could potentially alter this bacteria in a positive way and maybe even one day help prevent certain disease. We are far from it, but the possibility that more research holds is fascinating to nutrition communicators.  

A trend I hope to see fade:

Deprivation diets

Juicing, detoxing, fad diets that eliminate entire food groups (low fat, low carb, paleo) and Dr. Oz. It’s endless.  Diets don’t work because they aren’t realistic long-term.  They’re also detrimental to our self-esteem when weight comes back on and they can isolate us socially.  Food is not the enemy and it’s nothing we need to detox from. We have a liver and kidneys to do that for us. In the long-run, food marketers have more to gain from encouraging healthy lifestyles than from kowtowing to these trends.

MakeaMeme.org

A trend I hope to see start:

Back to basics

I’d love for the basics that are NOT BAD for you to come back in to fashion. Foods like beans, brown rice/grains, frozen fruits/vegetables and dairy. Somehow these foods became the enemy without any evidence to support it when exotic greens, chia seeds and $8 juices are what people think they need to maintain a healthy diet. Marketers of these back-to-basics foods have tremendous opportunity knocking on their door.

FOODSERVICE – Julie Stas

A trend I hope to see continue:

Supper clubs and Sunday suppers

There is something so warm and comforting about bringing a group of friends around a communal table – passing food, sharing stories, socializing at the dinner table. Look at Asheville’s Rhubarb Sunday Suppers  —  they highlight a local farmer each week and prepare a special family-style menu reflecting the bounty of local markets. Rhubarb is smart enough to know that by creating such memorable experiences for customers, they’ll win their hearts and minds forever.

DinnerLab (Source: Dinner Lab)

A trend I hope to see fade:

Super-sized everything

As society becomes more enlightened about health and nutrition, the prevalence of extra-large portions has left many welcoming the age of small plates. This is why we deem 2015 the year of tapas. With tapas, diners can be adventurous without breaking the bank and chefs can showcase more of the culinary dynamite in their arsenal.

A trend I hope to see start:

Seasonal taking the stage next to local

In the midst of locavore hype, facts about seasonality often get overlooked. No, blueberries aren’t only in season in the summer. Our winter is South America’s summer, so they come in fresh and tasty all year round.  With increased pressure to offer seasonal produce AND menu creativity, foodservice pros would be well-served to take a more expansive look at seasonality.

 RETAIL– Jason Stemm

A trend I hope to see continue:

Focus on fresh

Fresh produce is the top factor determining where consumers shop, followed by fresh meat, poultry and seafood. Supermarkets have focused on the perimeter for years, but supercenters are catching up, and now C-stores are expanding fresh offerings. Salad bars are popping up at schools and vending machines are dispensing fresh produce. I hope to see more market innovation as the supply chain expands to meet this growing appetite for fresh, whether it is growing vegetables on rooftops or delivering fresh seafood by drone.


A trend I hope to see fade:

Impersonal touch

When did we grow such distaste for human interaction? First there were the Self Checkouts and now Lowes wants you to ask a robot for assistance. I’d love to see more retailers follow Hy-Vee’s example of having a dietitian in every store and move toward more customer engagement, not less.

A trend I hope to see start:

Specialization returns to Main Street

We urbanites are spoiled. While supercenters and “one stop shopping” have wiped out many family businesses, we can still find artisan specialists in large cities – see Chelsea Market in New York, Pikes Place in Seattle or Reading Terminal in Philly. Outside urban areas, though, these specialty shops are few and far between. I hope this urban revival expands out to Main Streets from coast to coast and our interest in food and where it comes from continues to grow across generations.

WINE, BEER & SPIRITS – Pia Mara Finkell

A trend I hope to see continue:

Craft everything

Craft beer and wine is growing exponentially year over year. Craft spirits have started to take hold. Craft cider is up and coming, gradually changing people’s perceptions of hard cider. The best of these drinks are made in small quantities, with passion and precision, adding excitement to the bar scene. The year 2015 is full of marketing potential for those in the craft world!

GoodFood.com (Source: GoodFood.com)

A trend I hope to see fade:

Generic, predictable wine lists

Oh gee, you have a California Chardonnay, an Argentinian Malbec, a supermarket brand Pinot Grigio AND an Oregon Pinot Noir. WOWZA! Give your customers a little more credit, and introduce them to something similar to what they already know, but even more delicious and maybe even a better value. Traditional aged Rioja, Beaujolais Crus, crisp and slightly effervescent Txakolina from the Basque Country, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, or heck, even a little unknown Madeira, just for fun!

A trend I hope to see start:

Service with a smile

Ok, I get it. Your drinks are fancy, extra interesting and crazy delicious. This bar is cooler than I will ever be, and incredibly difficult to find. You are bound to win Hipster of the Year with those tight pants and waxed moustache. The part of the equation you continue to miss is that I am, above all, here to have a good time.  Please stop acting like you are too cool for school, and smile occasionally. Take a cue from the Union Square Hospitality Group. Put good service and a pleasant disposition in front of everything else, and I will pay you the best compliment possible. I will come back.

 

 

So, enough about our hopes and dreams. What food marketing trends do you hope to see fade or flourish in 2015?