Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Middle Way

The Middle Way

The Natural Marketing Institute released some interesting trends affecting our world and how we live. Bit by bit we have seen some new buzzwords coming out of the trenders. “Credit crunch couture”, “credit crunch cuisine”, “trading- down”, “down-scaling” and “cutting-back”. NMI describes this phenomenon as

With regards to health and wellness, the days of low fat this and full fat that, calorie counting and many other up or downs and more or less’s are shifting to more of a balanced life of moderation and less excesses.

The research indicates that consumers are seeking 'The Middle Way' which is a lifestyle approach grounded in comfort, safety, sustainability and moderation.

Wellness, energy, balanced eating, careful management of budgets and balanced energy is taking the space of dieting, fad lifestyles such as no carbs and also excessive indulgence. Instead of fixing a problem, consumers are looking to prevent getting sick, toxic, fat or tired. There is a certain discipline pervading all aspects of life.

Big changes are not being made but small manageable changes that together contribute to a more moderate and sustainable life. I think this is interesting in terms of food product development as we can perhaps not worry so much about the entire product being good for you, but rather make it better for you. It is a small step but one that perhaps consumers feel they can sustain.

With a return to a moderate life, old-fashioned value systems are becoming reference points. An awareness of the fast pace of life, technological dominance in our jobs and homes and the need to remain “down to earth” consumers are returning to old ways of cooking slowly and from scratch, gourmet travel holidays and eco-tourism.

Although consumers are more aware of community living and working with the world to create a better world, the personal needs and personal health need to be merged in the brands they are consuming. It is about me in the world, but the perception of my health is a reflection on the state of the world. An interesting one to interpret into food!!

Consumers can access almost any information and in the past the question “what” was asked, now it is “what and why”. Consumers want to know what the company policies are and how they make their products and where the raw materials come from. Our own “new” consumer protection bill is going to help consumers access this information or take to task should they not be happy. Consumers are more and more aware of what could make them ill or old as well as wanting to choose “the right way” from a principle point of view.

The good news is that “naturally beautiful” is being celebrated. Plastic surgery is no longer something to brag about. Looking your age and showing your naturally beauty and inner beauty is what real life is all about. I do have to wonder at this trend really playing itself out in Hollywood and in the magazines we all love to buy.

The rise of research into sugar alternatives and tea’s with less caffeine shows that consumers want to conserve their energy. The conservation of power and electricity is transferred to personal energy and they are realizing the days of quick fixes are over.

Buying less but buying better reflects a desire for products to have more meaning and more integrity. Artisan, provenance, old varietals and authenticity can be seen across almost all food categories.

So, how do we interpret this into our NPD for the next few years. Carefully, me thinks.

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