Food preferences are changing and technology is the driving force

Most smartphone users think technology has improved how well they eat.

It’s hard not to notice that there is more and more of a focus on gourmet and specialty foods in our local festivals, on TV cooking shows and competitions, in the local grocery store, as well as on the internet. Have you ever wondered what is behind the growing “foodie” movement, born in the 1980s? Would you agree that your own attitudes toward food have changed in the last 10 years?

According to a report by The Hartman Group, a nationally-syndicated research group that specializes in understanding how consumer attitudes lead to purchases, we have evolved into a participatory culture. This means that preferences have changed from selecting food based on consumer prices and brands, to selections based on health, wellness and indulgence. Many consumers believe the world actually revolves around them. This has lead to the emergence of the successful niche brands and specialty foods.

Moreover, this change has largely been driven by technology. According to Hartman, eighty-one percent of smartphone users believe that in the past ten years technology has genuinely improved how well they eat. This technology is allowing the public to easily search for recipes, learn about new foods, discover new retailers, etc. This perpetuates a cycle of even more hunger for knowledge, creating a plethora of amateur food experts who want to “do it themselves”. This environment allows the technology savvy food business to make themselves available to this independent consumer.

According to Mintel, another consumer marketing research leader, new software is soon becoming available to make it easier for consumers to sync their mobile devices with their health-monitoring tools and home appliances. Can you imagine a world where consumers decide what they want for dinner; then use an app to find healthy recipes within a specified calorie range? Next it creates a grocery list, electronically surveys your pantry inventory, and sends you the list of needed items and suggests places where you can find them! That world is not far off – are you ready?

Through a partnership with Michigan State University Extension, the MSU Product Center provides product and business marketing assistance for companies as they work to commercialize their food product. For more information, visit or call 517-432-8750.

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