When it comes to the power of social media in the food and beverage industry, the numbers don’t lie. With an impressive 25% of food photos being motivated by a “need to document [one’s] day for the public,”[i] consumers are constantly evaluating products not only as potential purchases, but also as opportunities to share their emotions and experiences with their friends and followers. While at first glance, it might seem easy to dismiss these posts as the modern equivalent of documenting one’s day in a diary, it’s crucial that we recognize a key difference between the two: While a diary entry is a private experience between the pages of a journal and the writer (and perhaps the occasional younger sibling with too much curiosity and not enough boundaries), a social media post exists on a uniquely public stage, one with the power to sway popular opinion with a personal flair.
But how, you may ask, does something so simple carry so much impact? Often an even more effective product endorsement than even the physical food or beverage itself, a photo or video can activate a supernormal stimulus in the viewer, thus causing “a stronger pull than the real thing.”[ii] According to Social Media Today, “seeing other people's photos of 'healthy' food can trick us into believing that it's delicious,”[iii] and, according to Max Planck studies on the topic, “the mere sight of delicious food stimulates the appetite.”[iv] As a result, one out of every ten consumers is influenced by their social networks when buying food and drinks.[v] Therefore, as food & drink/lifestyle posts continue to dominate the digital space, it becomes increasingly critical that companies view each individual consumer not only as a potential customer, but also as a potential content creator and informal brand ambassador.
Because of this, food and beverage manufacturers face more challenges than ever when it comes to finding their recipe for success: If consumers have social media on the mind, what determines which products make the cut? In an era when personal branding is a necessity, users must curate their content and, by extension, their purchases so that they capture the essence of their online image/voice and sell an overall utopian lifestyle/experience to which the audience can aspire. In order to be truly successful, a post can’t be strictly beauty or brains- it needs to capture an audience’s attention with an eye-catching picture and a thought-provoking caption, both of which should be tailored to impress. As a result, consumers are constantly on the hunt for products that encapsulate the best of both worlds by presenting equal value in both aesthetics and nutrition.
In an effort to meet these rising demands, product developers continue to seek new and creative ways to incorporate color into their foods and beverages. Responsible for 75% of the consumer’s first impression of a product, color is a critical indicator of freshness, quality, and flavor. As such, it has become an essential tool for product differentiation and helping a food or beverage stand out on the shelves.
However, as we have learned in recent years, eye-catching isn’t enough, and not all food coloring is created equal. An increasingly educated and health-conscious public seek to ensure that all ingredients in their products, including the colors, subscribe to a philosophy of “naturalness”. Ah, that elusive “naturalness”. How can such an abstract concept be discerned in the marketplace? The answer lies in the packaging. Maybe a book can’t be judged by its cover, but a product can certainly be judged by its label. When consumers are on the hunt for a natural product, they pay special attention to the ingredients list and health halo. Provided the ingredients are easy to understand on product labels and boast a beneficial health impact, the consumer is often satisfied. Thus, with additives under increasing global scrutiny by consumers, retailers, and governments alike, manufacturers are finding that they can turn to colors from fruits and vegetables for a vibrant and completely natural solution to stay ahead of industry developments and appeal to customer needs.
In a world in which consumers continue to demand aesthetic and nutritional value from their foods and beverages, Coloring Foods are the natural solution. Founded over 40 years ago on the principle of coloring food with food, EXBERRY® by GNT has established itself as the leading brand of natural colors for the food and beverage industry. Coloring Foods are made from fruits, vegetables, and edible plants using gentle, physical processes including chopping, pressing, filtering, and blending with the addition of water. Coloring food with food is suitable for vegetarian, vegan, kosher and halal diets and ideal for Clean Label products. On product labels, color concentrates can be declared simply by naming the original ingredients, such as "Elderberry and carrot concentrate." Thus, with EXBERRY® Coloring Foods in their arsenal, product developers can manage to both rise to consumer demands and stand out from the crowd by creating vibrant, innovative foods and beverages that are made with easy-to-recognize, all-natural ingredients.
Want to learn more? During the Food Tech Talks in Auditorium 3 on Wednesday September 25 at 5:45, Javier Brill will be giving a presentation on consumer and market trends and how coloring food matches that demand. Attendees will learn about how the trend for consumers to choose foods and drinks that are perceived as more natural and healthy is unstoppable, that color is a crucial component for both product developers and consumers, and how foods and beverages can be colored with ingredients and not additives. Find more information about the Food Tech Talks here.