Focusing On Personalized Nutrition And Customized Flavors In Food & Drinks
In the emerging personalization trend in food and drink products, more consumers are seeking to customize their diet according to their individual tastes and values, health-related nutritional needs, and/or wellness-related nutritional aspirations. Personalization means increased choice for consumers, whose emotions of (for example) control, responsibility, prestige, and/or indulgence are enhanced through their food and drink consumption. In this way, a person’s choices about the food and drink consumed by their own body are emerging as a key part of the construction and expression of individual identity.
Protecting self-identity, through using diet to manage a health problem, or in a wellness lifestyle, preventing the onset of health problems in the first place. Here, consumers are looking for scientific and legitimate health benefit claims from food and drink products. For manufacturers, this can be a costly NPD undertaking, but successful products can drive customer loyalty and a premium can be charged.
Projecting self-identity, through using the consumption of food and drink to give expression to one’s aspirations through the added values of products. This may take place through flavor and taste preferences, the choice of gourmet and/or indulgent food and drink, consuming authentic ethnic cuisine or buying food and drink guided by ethical-political concerns.
Within the personalization trend, consumers are looking to food and drink products to provide them with nutritional choices through which to protect and/or project their identities as specific and relatively unique individuals.
Personalization in food and drink, in the context of individualization and customization in wider society, is typically a younger person’s trend (the ‘Me Generation’). Younger people are already well-versed in using their consumption of a whole range of goods and services to construct, protect and project their individual identity. Food and drink personalization represents an extension to this trend. The notion that ‘we are what we eat’ encapsulates the closeness of links made in popular understanding between our self, our identity, our body and the food and drink we consume. In the context of an ageing population, rising levels of obesity, and associated lifestyle illnesses, the personalization trend offers manufacturers a significant growth opportunity to market targeted food and drinks products to a wide range of consumers.
The personalization trend in nutritional needs offers consumers the benefits of self-managing their health problem, through functional food and drinks in their diet. These products are preventative rather than treatments, but are nonetheless a way for consumers to regain a sense of control over a health problem which is otherwise in the hands of medical professionals. The functional personalization trend is therefore appealing to consumers, because it gives them a way of protecting their self-identity which is damaged by their illness.
The specialist niche character of personalized nutritional needs food and drink, along with the regulatory context, means that innovation in this area is unlikely to be large-scale. However, successful products within the trend have the opportunity to be very successful and to ‘own’ a benefit for a particular health condition.