There’s one thing I particularly enjoy about food: put simply, its appetite for fun. I love experimenting with different cuisines and flavours to create something new and exciting, taking my tastebuds on a trip and elevating mealtimes to new levels. However, in times of financial strain, the idea of “fun food” often takes a back seat.
Inflation has affected businesses and consumers, and cost-saving has become a top priority. In its latest annual State of Grocery report, McKinsey & Co revealed all income levels are seeking cheaper private-label products. This may lead to food brands thinking they need to resort to muted campaigns to engage consumers.
However, staying ahead of consumer desires by anticipating trends can deliver to customers what they genuinely want, while continuing to create a sense of pleasure and excitement for products. The ability to connect meaningfully over time, thanks to focused consumer and market intelligence understanding, can ultimately result in increased brand loyalty, and the good news is that adventurous food doesn’t always have to be expensive.
Every year at Pinterest, we reveal the trends which are set to go big in the coming year in our Pinterest Predicts report, and it’s safe to say escapism and fun are firmly at the heart of food and drink in 2024. Thanks to user searches and the ideas and recipes they save to their boards, we can see what’s becoming a growing trend and is expected to continue spiking in the year ahead.
With 80% of Pinterest Predicts trends coming true over the past few years, it’s fair to call this a cheat sheet that can give brands a future-gazing lens into consumers’ desires, which can then inform robust marketing strategies.
We’ve seen a prevailing trend in which people are moving away from singular culinary choices and instead embracing a fusion of global flavours within a single dish. This emerging trend, favoured by both gen X and baby boomers, is reflected in the growing popularity of searches for gochujang pasta, pizza pot pies or cheeseburger tacos.
We’ve coined this ‘Melty Mashups’, and for brands it could offer the opportunity for cost-effective ingredient substitutions, creating a unique culinary fusion. By incorporating nostalgic elements, or those that reflect individuals’ diverse cultural backgrounds through familiar tastes, a sense of enjoyment and fun is then reintroduced into the dining experience.
Another trend we have observed is the use of tropical flavours in food and drink, which we have playfully named ‘Tropic Like It’s Hot’. This trend is gaining popularity among both boomers and Gen Z, as searches for pineapple mocktails, as well as dishes such as Hawaiian sheet pan chicken, continue to increase.
The escapism isn’t only happening through flavours either, as people deep-dive into tropical aesthetics, saving ideas and products related to coconut decor and tropical themes. So brands might be wise to put exotic twists on breakfast bowls, cocktails and desserts, with ingredients like coconut, mango and hibiscus, which will not just help brighten the colder months but also provide some much-needed vitamin C.
In the continued cost-conscious climate, many consumers have shifted towards affordable options, but our Pinterest Predicts report shows it has yet to dampen their spirit of culinary exploration. With the rise of Melty Mashups and Tropic Like It’s Hot, it’s all about having fun and finding escapism in food in 2024.
By infusing affordable yet adventurous elements into their campaigns, brands can seize the opportunity to tap into people’s desire for nostalgic flavours and creative twists in their dining experiences. Embracing these trends not only satisfies consumer desires, but helps to foster stronger brand love, even during a time of financial strain.