Food marketing trends reflect wider-spread marketing trends and flavor trends. Regardless of where you fall in the culinary world (restaurant owner, manufacturer, chefs, consultant, marketer, retailer, etc.), plan to see more and more of these seven marketing activities in 2017.

Food Marketing Trend 1: Targeted Social Advertising

Expect targeted social media advertising to become more common among food businesses. According to the Direct Marketing Association, “Social media will grow to 24% of marketing budgets within five years, up from 10% today.”

The ability to thoughtfully target social media ads using data as a guide has never been better. The new Facebook pixel helps with that. Target ads to users with specific interests or demographics and track impressions and clicks with intense precision, not just from the insights of the social media network, but from your website analytics, too.

snapchat advertisingYou can run ads on most social networks, even Snapchat. We have found that

  • Pinterest and Facebook ads work well to drive traffic to your site
  • LinkedIn ads are best for generating B2B leads
  • Twitter ads help you get market research done

Social media advertising is far less expensive than a magazine advertisement, radio spot, or a trade show booth. In our Food Marketing Costs at a Glance Infographic, you can see how they all compare.

Food Marketing Trend 2: A New(ish) Take on Word of Mouth Marketing

Influencer marketing is a form of word of mouth marketing. An influencer is someone who, either on their own or with coaxing from you, shares the good news about your brand. That promotion could take place on social media, on the street, in a book — wherever — and it is fantastic.

Influencer marketing is not new. At The Condiment Marketing Co., we’ve been helping clients find their food brand advocates for years. By the way, there are a lot of terms for this concept: influencer marketing, relationship marketing, brand advocates, brand ambassadors, and on and on.

In 2017, expect to see more food businesses partnering up with influencers to further the brand’s content reach. Check out The Food and Wine Conference’s brand ambassador FAQs for a fun example.

food brand influencer

Food Marketing Trend 3: Real Authenticity

It’s redundant to say “real” before authenticity. If you’re authentic, then you’d be “real,” right?

The trend in marketing for nearly all industries, including food, is to be transparent; to show your customers who you really are in creative ways and create an avenue for personal connection. However, many-a-food-businesses are getting busted for being dishonest or two-sided in their seemingly transparent claims. The public and media are not kind to bogus representation. Take, for example, Mast Brothers Chocolate and Chick-Fil-A.

Bottom line…make your message true to your company values and your ingredient list. The marketing trend toward transparent company-consumer connection is not going away. Do it right.

Food Marketing Trend 4: Food as Community

bacon flight

This is my friend Nina with a flight of bacon. Good lookin’ bunch, wouldn’t you say?

The Bacon Social House in Denver could be a case study in current food trends. Bacon continues to delight us food lovers as do locally-sourced ingredients and boozy brunches. But all that aside, the location strikes us as an excellent example of food as community, a definite 2017 food marketing trend.

Bacon (the restaurant) is set back and not obvious from the street. Once you find the door, you will likely need to wait for a table, which is fine because you’ll want to meander in the nearby boutiques and specialty food shop. With garage doors and windows open at all establishments, you can easily hear your name called while you are buying your pineapple earrings (true story).

Once seated, share a bacon flight and watch your fellow diners in the multi-level restaurant. You really do feel like you are part of something here.

Other ways to create food as community…

  • Support a cause (e.g., child hunger, food waste, etc.)
  • Purchase ingredients from farmers/suppliers in line with your vision
  • Get creative with loyalty programs
  • Community tables!

Food Marketing Trend 5: Awe-Inspiring Food Videos

Over the summer, I attended the Denver Accelerate Your Business event. Speaker Jon Levy, a human behavior expert, said the emotion that prompts the biggest engagement from people is not happy, sad, or mad–it’s awe.

This ties very closely into the video marketing trend you’ve no doubt seen all over social media and the web. There are a variety of reasons why video works so well in marketing food, but one of the biggest reasons, I think, is because it can effectively generate that feeling of awe.

These three videos are very different, but each entertains in its own way.

(The above video brought to you by our friends at Quadrid Productions.)

Food Marketing Trend 6: Politics and Packaging Design

One of The Condiment Marketing Co.’s trusted graphic designers, Amy Goldsmith, weighed in on what she sees happening with food packaging trends. She said that packaging trends follow other trends such as interior design and fashion and even politics.

For example, with a strong push toward non-GMO and small batch products, textured papers, the look of a letterpress print with a stamped effect, old-fashioned imagery — anything that makes you feel like you bought the product off of a roadside farm stand in the early 1900’s —  is in, and isn’t going away anytime soon.

According to Amy, the good news with packaging design is that anything can be “in” as long as it’s well executed. You simply need to come up with a clear theme and marketing message. Don’t try to do too much at once.

Food Marketing Trend 7: Follow the (Ethnic) Flavor Trends

dried seaweed

Dried seaweed pictured here

Ethnic foods are a hot, hot, hot food trend in the United States. Millenials are well traveled and want to enjoy foods they experienced overseas here at home, and that is driving new restaurant concepts and menus as well as food/beverage packaging.

As Amy put it, “if consumers are going to purchase a Mexican hot sauce, then one with a brightly-colored Day of the Dead theme is bound to attract and appear as if it was made in Mexico City. And with so much competition on the shelf, it’s important to stand out, so bright colorful patterns also help in this area.”

Other 2017 flavor trends we think will influence marketing are sustainable foods, plant-based proteins, and Asian and Arab foods like Oko Nam Yaki and Shawarma. (Food trend info thanks to Food & Drink Resources.)

What other food marketing trends do you predict for 2017?

Sara Lancaster

About Sara Lancaster

Sara is The Condiment Marketing Co.’s founder and creative director. She oversees client relationships, strategic marketing plans, as well as a bit of copywriting and social media management.