It’s been 48 years since Diana Ross first sang the words, “Do you know where you’re going to?” Take a moment to get over the shock (or to consult Google if you’re one of our younger readers), and then think about those words. They apply just as well to your business as they do the broader, introspective sense implied in the song.
The problem is you can’t know for sure where your business should go without educated insights mapping the route. Let’s look at how our unique understanding of consumer and industry trends can show you the way forward.
by Jo-Ann McArthur, Nourish Founder & President
We can’t predict the future, convenient (and profitable) as that would be. But we can still plan and future-proof ourselves for what may come. How?
We can innovate based on where we’ve been and what we see today.
Looking back on looking forward
Innovation was very much on our minds when we began work on our annual Nourish Trend Report in 2016 (for the 2017 edition). It was, and remains, our intention to share our unique knowledge and give back to the Food Industry we love. From the beginning, our focus has been squarely on trends rather than fads. Trends represent fundamental shifts; they have staying power, unfolding and developing over months and even years.
We are also privileged to do bespoke trend reports for some of our clients and their specific categories. (Interested? Reach out to me by email!)
As a visual aid, we’ve mapped how some of these trends have unfolded over the past seven years as we start preparing our 2024 report. (Note: Nourish Food for Thought subscribers get a first look at the report in November!) Some trends, like plant-based, have evolved over time. Personalization and customization continue to march forward, enabled by technology and AI. Transparency remains a common theme for consumers, but Industry, both agricultural and processors, seems slow to respond.
New ideas and new trends can come from any direction
And as for innovation in the foodisphere, that now comes from multiple areas. Where it used to start in fine dining and then travel down to QSRs and finally onto grocers’ shelves, innovation today takes numerous paths before it reaches the consumer. Social media, particularly TikTok, allows trends to jump not only restaurants but even countries and go straight into retail.
Other paths from outside the food world, like fashion and appliances, have also emerged as trendsetters. Think air fryer instructions on packaging and the “high-low” style hack of combining indulgence with frugality, like a designer blazer with a thrift-store shirt, but, instead, it’s an inexpensive cut of meat with a premium imported sauce.
So, while we can’t know for sure what tomorrow may bring (COVID reaffirmed that with a certainty), that doesn’t mean we have to flail blindly in the dark. Our strategy is to assess the current situation and trace it back to where it came from. With that knowledge, we can determine likely trajectories and set ourselves (and you!) up for success in the future.
After all, innovation isn’t the act of pulling something entirely new out of thin air. That’s invention — which is very impressive, but there are very few examples of it. No, most often, innovation is, as Merriam-Webster puts it, “a change made to an existing product, idea, or field.” If you know where things are heading, a timely innovation in your area of expertise can help your business get there first.
Study that graphic, read our Trend Reports, and you be the judge: how’s our crystal balling going so far?