With November upon us, it starts to feel like that magical time of year. ‘Tis the season for….food trend predictions! What did you think I was talking about? But not to worry. This post isn’t a prognostication—there are enough culinary authorities and self-proclaimed experts contributing to the conversation. What I want to share with you is an observation—or maybe an affirmation—on a topic that I wrote about earlier this year.

The food choices people make when it comes to food consumed at home as well as away from home are interrelated and evolve through out the day.

In the Food+Beverage practice at Padilla, we approach every client assignment with a “table to farm” framework. The food choices people make when it comes to food consumed at home as well as away from home are interrelated and evolve through out the day. So we look at consumer behaviors and attitudes related to all food decisions to understand how our clients’ products fit into this expansive landscape.

What does this have to do with food trends you may be wondering? A recent presentation by Nancy Kruse, an authority on menu trends (and one of my favorite people), referenced a number of threats to restaurant operators. What I found interesting is that most of them related to changing behaviors geared towards eating at home. And I’m not talking about traditional take-out. Consumers simply have more food and beverage choices, available from varying types of outlets, at all hours of the day. And what influences their decisions constantly changes from morning to night. It’s complicated, messy, even a bit schizophrenic. So where do you begin?!

  1. Be clear about who you’re talking to. While custom research gives you greater accuracy, you can tap into various secondary sources but be sure they’re reputable.
  2. Understand what your product brings to the party. Providing a nutritious breakfast on-the-go; or an indulgent afternoon snack; or heat-and-eat prepared meal? Foodstuffs cannot be all things to all people, all of the time. Pick a meal occasion, or opportunity you can own.
  3. Follow the consumer behavior trends—in both grocery and restaurant and everything in between. As I said at the beginning, there is lots of food-related trend information available. So watch for what’s changing with consumer preferences and expectations.

We hear the phrase “change is constant” all the time in the food business. So don’t worry about getting your communications approach exactly right because your approach will need to evolve. Just like consumers’ preferences.