My first interview with Vetter, Executive Chef Manager, and Product Development - Culinary for McCormick & Company, McCormick Flavor Forecast 2013 Driving New Product Development in the Food Business 2013 focused on top trends his team sees coming from all over the globe.
So where do you get new product ideas?
Well, more frequently research and new product launch are relying on crowdsourcing… connecting with the "crowd" via social media to get an early indication of trends and sentiment. So when new foodpreneur clients want to know how to market a food product and get it on the shelf… I tell them to start with unique products so you can say to the retail buyer "I have something you don't have on the shelf".
All small food businesses should know that crowdsourcing is feasible and two examples would be following Mommy Bloggers and Using Pinterest for New Product Development . The latter is a hotbed of visual stimulation and takes frequent scanning to see if certain recipes can point to early food trends.
So Kevan, can we discuss how McCormick is moving toward "listening" to the crowd for an early sign of trends stimulating new product ideas?
Since Visual Content Marketing has become easier with Pinterest I just knew that this played a role at McCormick to show foods that illustrate their forecast trends. Kevan said "McCormick is constantly looking for innovative ways to share their passion for flavor and deepen their engagement with consumers, connecting with them where they are spending significant time." Kevan said they play an active role in social media via Pinterest, Facebook and other platforms to listen to and communicate with their brand advocates (also referred to as influencers) nearly every day.
How Does McCormick Execute Visual Marketing on Pinterest?
"The sharing of food images and recipes is exploding across social platforms." According to Kevan Pinterest is now among the top five traffic drivers to McCormick.com, whereas a year ago it was barely making the top 100. Kevan said "We've found that Pinterest helps us learn more about the interests of our consumers based on what they're pinning, so in turn we can continue to be a resource to them."
In addition, McCormick has launched Flavor Forecast boards for the past two years to allow followers to learn more about incorporating new trends and flavors into their meals at home. They have used Instagram in a recent initiative to create the longest dinner party chain for our McCormick Gourmet brand. By joining the chain, you were eligible to win exclusive dinner party prize packages and a chance at the grand prize of a trip for two to the New York City Wine & Food Festival.
Food Bloggers, Mommy Bloggers are Today's Social Influencers. What Are You doing with Bloggers?
The social community they listen to and learn from for really early signs of trends is their network of "partner blogger advocates".
Kevan explained "For the launch of Flavor Forecast 2013, we monitored the social landscape and hand-picked a total of 20 bloggers from around the world to participate in a sneak peak of the Flavor Forecast. We provided one-on-one interviews with McCormick Chefs to answer any questions the bloggers might have about the Flavor Forecast, which provided them the opportunity to write their own blog features on whatever aspects of the report interested them. This led to in-depth recaps of the trends and flavors, as well as inspired original recipes from some of our blogger partners."
So all of you specialty food, artisan local food companies, why not start following McCormick's partner bloggers to see what is hot or getting hot around the world Kevan's suggests these influencers:John Gregory Smith (UK blog),Noodlies (Australia Blog),Eat.Live.Travel.Write (Toronto, Canada Blog) and Food and Fabulous (South Africa Blog)
I am thinking that many smaller companies may not know how to use this data as "stimulus" for ideation in products that are truly differentiated from the competition. They may be taking the information too literally.
The Flavor Forecast represents a wealth of great resources for food entrepreneurs to tap into. Kevan had great suggestions on taking their overall trends and incorporating them into your new product development. "The Market-Fresh Broccoli & Dukkah, although represented as a condiment, can be viewed as a great flavor profile for a snack chip. The Smoked Tomato, Rosemary, Chile Peppers & Sweet Onion, representing the Personally Handcrafted Trend, was inspired from homemade ketchup." Actually how cool would it be for one of you foodpreneurs to develop a Smoked Tomato, Rosemary, Chile Peppers & Sweet Onion ketchup!
So you can see this… don't think literally about the flavor combos in the report. Spend some time doing what ifs on what we you see in the Flavor Forecast.