Forget trend setters, it’s all about taste setters

Food and drink brands need to find favour in ’taste setters’ before gaining the approval of the masses.

Like most other sectors, food consumers are made up of a small group of early adopters and a large crowd of followers who base their daily selections on a combination of embedded loyalty and personal recommendations from friends and colleagues. See my colleague Lou Cooper’s feature on food and drink ’tastesetters’ here.

It all boils down to a classic case of food envy – how many times have you been at a loss for what to get for lunch, when your colleague triumphantly marches in with something tasty they have picked up from somewhere cool down the road? Naturally, rather than sit there salivating while you nurse a sorry looking home made sandwich, you just have to have it too.

Our office is a hub of food suggestions for what little nuggets we can unearth in Soho for under a fiver. And once we discover something we love – like that little Thai canteen buried in the alleyway – we are hooked for life. So Soho’s food retailers have a lot to thank our office tastesetters for.

But to really harness the power of tastesetters, brands have to be clever at identifying who these people are, and this would be down to clever research or CRM skills. Can they find out who loves their existing products and would be more than happy to try new variants – like Marmite’s Tom Denyard says in the feature above? Or in the case of a new market entrant, should they target key opinion formers to build publicity to filter out to followers, like snack maker Broderick’s has?

Marmite did it by honing on who was posting the most positive material on its social networking sites like Facebook. But in the case of Broderick’s, new brands could have a task of picking out who the most appropriate bloggers, celebrities and journalists are to help recruit the masses onto the bandwagon.

They would need to do their homework in terms of who these people are and what they do – there’s no point in sending a case of Broderick’s bars to a fine dining guru like Jay Rayner who writes about Michelin-starred restaurants. But it might be worth getting friendly with a blogger who loves all things cakes and sweets, or a women’s magazine who might do a spread on new chic picnic treats.

Like so many other elements of marketing, appealing to the ’taste setters’ is all about clever targeting – and, hopefully, the masses will follow.

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