Three Tips for Food Manufacturers to Make Technology-Driven Products More Palatable
Excerpt from the Future of Food eBook — Alternative Seafood: The Next Blue Ocean

We’ve already detailed some of the cutting-edge technologies that are leading change in the alternative seafood space. But just because a technology is more sustainable and can be done at scale, it doesn’t mean it’s viable for mass adoption. That’s where consumer preferences, and understanding the demand side of the equation, are critical for food manufacturers.

At Spectacle, studying consumer behaviors, preferences, and shifting palates is second nature — so we’ve mined consumer sentiment and applied the same logic as we did with Impossible Foods to identify the three keys to success for manufacturers looking to make a splash.

1. Nail the sensory attributes.

Studying the superstars in “alternative” products who are looking to displace American household staples — such as Impossible Foods (plant-based meat), Miyoko’s Creamery (cashew-based cheese), and Banza (chickpea-based pasta), it’s clear these brands were laser-focused on a core insight: making products that provided an uncanny similarity to the real thing in terms of texture, taste, and performance in cooking. 

While the idea of heme (a plant-based protein that mimics the “bleeding” of a burger) may be off-putting to some, it’s the key unlock for a plant-based burger to get the taste and texture of the real thing once cooked. That’s what drove major brand partnerships with QSR chains like Burger King — something other veggie-based “burgers” could never attain.

The texture of seafood, from raw sashimi-grade tuna to scallops to crab cakes, is a critical component for most seafood lovers. Take a page from major manufacturers and conduct CLTs — Central Location Tests — with head-to-head taste testing to see how your product stacks up to your gold-standard competitor. And keep iterating your formulation until you nail it.

2. Message to the masses — not the niche.

Miyoko’s Creamery, the award-winning vegan brand that disrupted the cheese category, has a compelling story and a grand aspiration to change cheese and butter forever. But their main message when you land on their website? 

“Discover the plant milk mozzarella that’s worthy of pizza.”

By placing their product in context of a beloved staple like pizza, and saying their vegan product is a worthy topping, they’re making it accessible to vegans and non-vegans alike and instantly cueing a familiar occasion that makes the product more approachable.

While vegans or those with dietary restrictions may indeed be some of the early adopters of your alternative products, they won’t provide the scale needed to succeed — and remain on store shelves with your retail partners. For that, you’ll need a bigger slice of the pie.

Consider fielding a consumer segmentation study for your category that identifies the attitudinal and behavioral characteristics of your audience — and pinpoint the commonality between segments that can drive your marketing strategy to mass adoption.

3. Pick your story — and stick to it.

Creating science-based food products that go against thousands of years of human behavior (fishing is, after all, one of the oldest professions), it’s easy to get caught up in the existentialism crisis of it all. We’re saving the oceans, fighting climate change, keeping species from extinction — and ultimately serving our kids a healthy, tasty fish stick dinner. 

Yes, having a bigger “why” is critical to drive purposeful adoption of your brand. But we advise a more pragmatic approach – focusing on one key, concise problem that your products solve — and being laser-focused on that as you craft your brand story. 

Consumers are smarter than we often give them credit for. Keep the story approachable, humanistic, and authentic — and let the individual consumer fill in the gaps with their own reasons for purchasing. Seek feedback in a two-way dialogue with your loyal customers to understand the need your product fulfills for them — you might be surprised with the answer!

Curious about how to best position your food innovation for mass adoption? Schedule a time to chat with our team of experienced food strategists to see how your product can become the next big thing.

Want even more?

Download your free copy of the full Future of Food eBook here.