Social media is the pulse of the people. For food and beverages, trends always emerge first in social feeds, with hungry scrollers eating with their eyes before looking for these creations in restaurants or attempting them themselves.
Food and beverage brands, restaurants, grocery stores should stay in tune with what’s happening, or risk missing out on valuable opportunities. Or worse, jumping on the latest shiny object and realizing afterwards that it didn’t bring the desired results.
At Donovan, we spend A LOT of time on social media. Like, a lot. From our research, we’ve identified three types of food trends – from flashes-in-the-pan to styles that stick. We’ll take a look at what they are, and how to know if and when you should act.
Types of Food Trends
There are always those food trends that come in with a lot of hype or make a splash for a while, but don’t quite have staying power. They end up becoming a fad.
Thai Rolled Ice Cream (or sometimes called stir-fried ice cream) – Never heard of it? Yeah, we hadn’t either. It’s been slow to make it’s way into the suburbia of Lancaster PA. This Thai street food is unique way of making ice cream by hand on a cold stone and rolled in small cylinders, This craze rose in popularity in 2016. Parlors cropped up everywhere in urban centers of the United States. While pretty to watch being made and supremely Instagram-able, the flavor and texture lacked the consistency and creaminess. Plus the cost was sometimes 3x that of ice cream. Foodies agreed – it’s not all what it was cracked up to be.
Mason Jar Salads – Remember Mason Jar Salads? We still see them floating around on Instagram and Pinterest, but their popularity has waned. For food bloggers, food magazines and brands, they were ever-so pretty to photograph. It was hip and trendy to pack your lunch salad in a mason jar. But the practicality of actually eating the salad from the jar is, well, impractical. Most people ended up dumping the contents into a bowl. Why not skip the jar and put the content right in the bowl?
Jumping on the latest craze on social media might seem like a good idea, and it most certainly can be. The old phrase – “Strike while the iron is hot” rings true when hot new trends are getting a lot of buzz and attention. You’ll automatically have an interested audience. Your unique adaptation can demonstrate how you are on trend and bring your business more reach and brand awareness. However, be cautious. Make sure that you view each trend through the lens of your marketing strategy. Will this strengthen your position within your desired audience? Does it make sense with your brand values and story? Will the potential benefits of acting on this trend outweigh the expenditure of resources?
Some trends spike during specific time periods:
Dalgona Coffee/Whipped Coffee – In April of 2020, Dalgona Coffee was HOT! To the point where it was one of the top trends on TikTok with over 366 Million views. Only a month later, at the end of May, it was no longer trending. Why? In April, most of the country was in lockdown mode due to the COVID-19. Home-bound consumers were seeking ways to relieve stress and comfort themselves. Whipped creamy coffee fit the bill. By May, states were loosening restrictions and the weather had warmed up, and the trend fizzled. Will it spike again in the fall? For sure, warm beverages do tend to be more popular in the colder months. We’ll have to see if Dalgona rises again.
Edible Flowers – Edible flowers peak in the spring, literally and on social media. With spring in full bloom and gorgeous recipes and treats for Mother’s Day, there is no doubt when edible flowers rise in popularity.
Seasonal trends are particularly useful, especially if your business or brand’s sales depend upon those spikes during certain times of the year. Posting content associated with Holidays, Back-to-school, Grilling Season and other specific seasonal trends can help connect your brand with the season in your consumer’s minds. Again, make it relevant. Don’t try to force your brand to the seasonal trend. The trend should help elevate your brand. For example, if you sell tomatoes, it makes no sense to jump on the Dalgona Coffee Trend. Coffee+Tomatoes=??
Some trends have staying power. Trends like these should have your full attention.
Avocado Toast – Little did we know that Avocado toast would make it as a menu favorite, a popular snack and a root of countless memes. This recipe has been personalized and attributed to so many bloggers, chefs and food magazines, it’s hard to figure where it actually started, but as google trends interest over time chart shows below – it’s hard to stop the steady growth of the Avocado toast.
Instant Pot – The Instant Pot trend is a hybrid of both a seasonal and long-term. The first instant pot hit the market in 2010. But, the instant pot craze took wing around the holiday season of December 2017. Ever since then, instant pot trends see massive spikes after the holidays, as many consumers received them as gifts. “Potheads”, as the cult-like followers are called, write cookbooks, start Facebook groups, and constantly share posts of their quick meals and creations all over social media. As you can see below, there is no sign of slowing this multi-cooker kitchen appliance phenomenon any time soon.
Long term trends are where you want to place the most time and effort. These are the ones that will bring the biggest bang for your buck. It may not have the flash of a short-term trend, but it’s slow and steady upward popularity will show your audience that you are paying attention to their interests. And, it will bring ongoing engagement and awareness.
Discovering and vetting food trends for your brand or business
- Active Listening – To stay on top of what’s happening, the first step is listening. If you aren’t spending time watching trending topics on social media channels, you could easily miss golden opportunities to participate in rising food topics.
- Impact on your marketing strategy – As with all marketing tactics, you must consider your marketing strategy. As we mentioned above, you must ask yourself:
- Will this reach your target audience?
- Will it enhance your brand values and story?
- Will the potential benefits warrant the expenditure of resources?
- How will you measure success?
- Seek expert advice – We get it, you might not have the time to listen for trending topics. Or, perhaps you need help further defining your marketing strategy, brand values and story before you can even use them as a measure. We are here to help. Donovan has decades of experience in the ever-changing landscape of food and beverage marketing. And, we have the pulse on what’s happening, so you don’t have to.
Ready to get started?
Contact us below to schedule a free 15-minute call to discuss food trends, marketing strategy, social media or any other marketing topic: