Sunday, January 18, 2009

Finding Comfort

No doubt you have heard (or felt) that these are not the best of economic times. In fact things are not predicted to get better until sometime in 2010. This has most of us tightening our wallets, hunkering down and staying home to ride out this economic down turn. Some trend watchers have called this behavior "hiving" (which is tendency to stay home and invite friends and family over) but I think it is actually a return to "cocooning" (which is more staying home and bonding with your close family). Either way we are staying home more and eating out less.

So as a brand manager or cookbook author or food writer how can you tailor your offerings based on the mood of the typical consumer these days? Think comfort foods! Things like soups, meatloaf with mashed potatoes, casseroles and desserts. Of course it will depend on your target consumers' age as to what types of comfort foods provide the most appeal. According to a study conducted by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, Young adults tend to prefer cookies and ice cream. The 35-54 crowd will tend to favor pizza, pasta and soup. While the 55+ group will want mashed potatoes and soup to take them to their happy place.

But don't think you have to be totally predictable with your comfort food offerings. Today consumers often look for traditional comfort foods with a modern twist. For example a simple ice cream dessert with an exotic fruit compote or beef stew made with gourmet blend of mushrooms. Consumers like to try the modern interpretations of their favorite childhood foods.

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