Contemplating brand messages and how we ingest them in our consumer culture came to me well before any consideration of breakfast today.
It landed via tweet from a marketing colleague now super wellness coach, Carol Hutchinson. Her post led me to read “HartBeat.” This edition of The Hartman Group’s newsletter has all kinds of tasty connections to the things I find most delicious in language: information, insight into culture, analysis of cultural trends and how these messages are communicated in our every day choices – and evidence of all this in our food selections.
The article is entitled: 20 Years, 20 Trends in Food Culture, Sweet and Sour. It lists a menu of marketed foods that have not only connected with food culture but also influenced it in both sweet and sour ways. What follows is a “taster’s menu” of marketing messages..
I’ve selected a few entries from 10 they have offered in each of the categories. Not only do they reflect a broader trend, they closely mirror what is going on right here, in Vancouver, British Columbia where I am currently based.
Do these samples reflect food in your region?
Remember the roadside fruit and vegetable stands or when snacking was a taboo? Times they are a-changin’. What will supplant these notable trends in years to come?
2. Fresh Is the Real Thing. The trend toward fresh can be understood as a historical process that is continually (re)defining what quality means in the world of food. Fresh is the cultural shift toward all things healthy, real, pure and special. It is the real and symbolic practice of eating “healthy” and living “well.”
3. Street Food. The new food trucks speak to our penchant for quality indulgence. These meals-on-wheels purveyors harness the power of local, up the ante on quality, fresh fare compared with the ubiquitous fast food joints, are fluent in the utilization of social media technology as their chief marketing tool and have nurtured a loyal cult-like fan base.
4. Celebrating Regionality. No longer do we seek Chinese, Mexican or Italian cuisine. Our awareness of food cultures has us seeking the more authentic, such as Szechuan, Oaxacan or food from the Piedmont region of Italy. Same goes for here in the U.S.: it’s no longer just BBQ, it’s Kansas City or Carolina-style.
(Helena’s note: Yummy to this last one. I live in a diverse population offering wonderful food choices and creating very particular tastes… that as a writer I love to describe correctly and “distinctively” and then to gobble them up!)
With the upside of innovation there is always a downside. Here are some we wish never would have happened while others should just fade away.
1. Artisanal. Artisan has been co-opted by the food industry and marketing to the point now that its distinction has been diluted. When Domino’s Pizza called-out “artisan-style,” it became very clear the original meaning was lost.
4. Fat-Free. Fat-free was a hot trend until we realized that it made us a whole lot, well, fatter. Despite years of anti-fat sentiment, it’s becoming clear that the right kinds of fats can make you healthier, smarter, more muscular, and leaner. So long, fat-free cookies and cakes, and bring on the avocados and cashews!
7. Marketing to Mom. While we suspect that meeting June Cleaver today really is as likely as, say, meeting D.B. Cooper, marketers still like to portray and promote to stay-at-home moms and the traditional nuclear family. Today’s family really is more like Modern Family:intergenerational, non-traditional, single-parent, unmarried, and multi-ethnic.
10. Better For You. The media and food industry fell in love with this term, but we know larger, cultural forces are at work here. Namely, what was once a paradigm of healthy eating habits and healthier food products is now a paradigm of high-quality experiences of which healthier eating is but one of many important sub-themes.
For the full article and all the delicious scoop, see: