Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

The Art of Craveability A must-have, come-back-for-more dish calls for a strategy that goes way beyond the recipe formula

Experiencing shareable food together and posting it on social media fuels the perception of craveability.

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.

Emotional appeal can trigger craveability. A menu description can tap into comfort, nostalgia or excitement to draw the consumer in.

Emotional appeal can trigger craveability. A menu description can tap into comfort, nostalgia or excitement to draw the consumer in.

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About The Author

Maeve Webster

Maeve Webster, President of Menu Matters, is a lead consultant for foodservice manufacturers and operators. She has spearheaded hundreds of major industry studies during her 16 years as a foodservice specialist, and today runs her private consultancy focused on helping manufacturers and operators analyze, understand, and leverage foodservice trends. Maeve’s expertise is in the areas of trend analysis, market assessment, consumer behavior, product testing, and brand optimization. During the past decade, Maeve was Senior Director at Datassential. During that time, she helped develop several of Datassential’s new products and programs including the company’s publications group and TrendSpotting package, headed the company’s health & wellness group, and participated in several industry initiatives including the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Menu R&D Collaborative. She is a regular speaker at top industry events and has contributed to major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNBC, MSNBC and CBS. She regularly contributes to several industry publications including Flavor & the Menu. Maeve earned her MBA at the University of Illinois, and holds a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago.