Wants and Needs
Lori Dahm, technical editor
Every year at IFT I hear the question: What trends are you seeing on the show floor?
This year I was hard-pressed to answer. It seemed that emerging trends, parallels between exhibited products, significant innovation … these identifiable factors were invisible.
And then I got it. The trend at this year’s IFT was “being invisible.” Say what?!
The exhibitors at this year’s IFT showed products with benefits that were hidden — specifically, the health and wellness attributes of products on display were touted as being invisible. Products were lower in sugar, lower in fat, free of trans fats or fortified. But the message with all of these innovations was that the consumer wouldn’t be able to distinguish the “healthy” product from a standard product that was loaded full of detriment.
Apparently, consumers say they want healthier food products, but won’t make food purchases if those products proclaim their health or wellness profile. So manufacturers have found a way to navigate through this labyrinth of intent versus behavior and are creating products that seem unhealthy, but aren’t.
This kind of consumer behavior may be frustrating, but you have to admire food manufacturers for getting the invisibility message: Don’t give consumers what they say they want, give consumers what they think they don’t want. Or, don’t give consumers what they don’t want (fat and sugar) disguised as what they really want (fat and sugar-laden products) rather than what they say they want (fat and sugar-free products).
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