Beyond Flavor to Emotion
Modern consumers, particularly younger ones, have fully embraced a food-focused culture. The next wave includes experiences, which are beginning to go hand-in-hand with the food itself. So how does that play into this idea of craveability?
Beyond food, experiences create cravings. Athletes and thrill-seekers know that endorphins can be addicting in much the same way that fats and sugars can. Experiences involving food may, potentially, be even more so. But aside from the addictive powers of endorphins, they can create cravings by appealing to emotions, nostalgia, thrills, social interactions and even the rush of bragging to friends and family about experiences no one else has enjoyed.
Enter the “eatertainment” category, solidly working to capitalize on cravings through the combination of craveable foods and craveable experiences. If the two didn’t work so well together, this category wouldn’t be expanding at the rate at which it is. Just look at the expanding field of successful eatertainment places, like Punch Bowl Social, Top Golf, SPiN and iPic Theaters, to name a few.
Smaller experiences can also create cravings. Cold brewed, barrel aged, and French pressed all speak to food-focused experiences—but experiences that are craveable. Be it the scarcity, the “made for me” appeal, or the quality of the finished results, consumers now crave the idea of having something that isn’t necessarily available to everyone else.
Cravings triggered by emotional appeal are increasingly used by restaurants. Slow braises in winter, comfort foods during hard economic times or descriptors that speak directly to emotional states—these may all create a craveability that goes well beyond the flavor of the food.
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