The quantitative survey of more than 700 “early adopter consumers”—who are defined as individuals who interact with food/drink online content regularly and who dine out often—allows Curious Plot to tap into early trends, said Amy Wood, senior VP.
“It was really important to us to hone in on this group. Early food adopters are folks we identified as being particularly food forward,” Wood said in a presentation. “By researching the curiosity level of food adopters, we can get a head start on where the mainstream curiosities are going.'
While convenience, nutrition and sustainability are mainstay trends, the survey found more nuanced details behind consumers’ preferences and the breakdown in generations.
Consumers want to prepare foods in a simple way
Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers cooking at home are inspired by easy meals that can be prepared under 30 minutes, while Gen Z are inspired by cooking skills and tips found on TikTok. Both Millennials and Gen Z reported interest in elevating packaged foods like ramen and exploring different cooking hacks that are popular on social media and YouTube.
In terms of nutrition, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers are interested in foods with functional benefits – particularly surrounding cognitive, gut and immune benefits; while Gen Z, who are less nutrition-focused, are more interested in new snacks and products.
While more consumers are curious about news ways to prepare fruits and vegetables, interest in plant-based proteins (19%) and milks (18%) was low in this group.
Taste and texture continue driving interest in plant-based products, along with cost. The findings in the study highlight more room for this category to grow in terms of affordability, formulation and even distribution.
Interest in sustainability is low, but presents opportunities for brands
While consumers showed an interest in sustainability topics, culinary and nutrition topics took precedent. The study found that only 47% of respondents identified food waste as a top curiosity and only 22% are “extremely curious” about climate-friendly eating.
“More than likely this…has something to do with the sustainability realm that consumers actually feel like they have an impact on, something they can personally take responsibility for,” Wood elaborated.
Other interests included animal welfare, farmer worker welfare and sustainable packaging.
Improving interest in sustainability and plant-based foods, an analysis
The low curiosity in plant-based foods and in sustainability presents a significant opportunity for brands to develop innovative marketing strategies that bridge the gap between consumer preferences and sustainable practices.
By creating engaging campaigns that highlight the nutritional benefits, flavorful possibilities, and positive environmental impact of plant-based diets, brands can capture the attention of the audience and encourage a shift towards more sustainable eating choices.
Moreover, leveraging partnerships with influencers, chefs, and experts in both culinary and sustainability fields can help educate consumers and cultivate a deeper understanding of the connection between food and the planet's well-being.
This strategic approach not only addresses current consumer interests but also fosters a genuine desire for eco-conscious consumption, paving the way for a more resilient and responsible food industry.