How food porn affects the marketplace
As marketers we know that consumers want a lot from their purchases. They often look to reviews to be assured that they are making the right purchase. Yet consumers also want something unique, something that marks them as special and courageously separate from the mainstream: the things so rare or new that reviews of them have not yet been written.
In a retail environment marked by an abundance of choice, one might think this would be easy. It’s not.
There is a scene in the movie The Devil Wears Prada in which fashion editor Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) dresses down her assistant Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) after an offhand remark about the importance of the fashion industry. Using the cerulean sweater her assistant is wearing as an example, Miranda Priestly illustrates the trickle down effect of Haute Couture. Ultimately demonstrating how her assistant’s decision about which sweater to wear was actually made for her by the fashion industry years earlier. Although fiction, this does point out the reality that a myriad of decisions are made before the consumer comes in contact with a product.
Social media and online content do, however, have the ability to generate identity-driven micro trends that circumvent the usual channels. A recent article by Tim Teeman (New Year, New Food Porn Insanity) about celebrity lives and diets featured an image from Instagram of Olympian Tom Daley cooking with a multi-compartment frying pan. It’s no coincidence that at the time the article was being written the pan featured was sold out. Online content can have a powerful effect.
The same article highlights the notoriously strict diet their Personal Chef, Allen Campbell, has cooked up for NFL quarterback Tom Brady and his model wife, Gisele Bündchen. This diet is almost entirely focused on anti-inflammatory vegetables. Granted, both Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen have careers based on their respective physicality. Maybe they need to worry about the inflammation a tomato or eggplant might cause. But these stories have economic consequences. People care about the celebrities they follow and the lives they’d like to emulate. Harnessing this kind of content can influence placement and drive sales. In this case it’s good for frying pans but bad for tomatoes. However, if the California Tomato Growers Association really wanted to counter they could always get Jennifer Lawrence to post about making a pizza.