Personalisation of food and drink products is not a desire of tomorrow, it’s right here as an opportunity in waiting. Having interviewed more than 100 people over the past few weeks about it, it has been interesting to see three clear lines of thinking emerging regarding who and what are the motivators behind the uptake of tailored solutions.
Guilt, fear and performance optimisation are the three main triggers for changes in food and drink consumption behaviour. Unsurprisingly, the main benefit of each of those drivers is convenience: for example, being able to get what you need quickly online, delivered to the door, measured and ready for when you need it.
The guilt-driven behaviourists are those who are acutely aware that they are not achieving their 5 a day, missing meals and snacking on stuff they shouldn’t. A personalised nutritional solution would just make life easier with a minimum of additional effort.
The fear-driven cluster seem to need a health scare or trigger to prompt behavioural change. Perhaps there has been a family history of a health problem. If this is flagged by a respected person in authority - a doctor, perhaps - such a call to action will change purchase decisions.
The performance-inspired are far easier to get hold of, as often they come from a sports background and strive to optimise their performance constantly. They seek as many natural choices that contribute to and deliver functionally against their own personal requirements. Tailoring the very specific outcomes via food and drink could be hugely compelling.
Interestingly, when I asked about the new DNA tests that help you discover what you are potentially at risk of long term (which good nutrition could help combat and prevent), the older the consumer, the less interest there was. Largely, they felt younger consumers had more life to live and could actively do more to prevent diseases via food and drink. The younger consumers seemed to welcome the concept and had more knowledge of DNA testing. The older consumers’ dismissal does not make me underestimate the opportunity for more ageing and medical nutrition-based opportunities, I just think the vital ‘fear of mortality’ trigger had not yet reared its head!
I love what brands such as Hello Fresh, Tails and Graze are doing. They are creating tailored, to the door solutions based on individual choices and nutritional needs. Tails is great, with its tailored healthy petfoods, albeit still at that ‘generic’ level of nutritional personalisation. The next generation of even more specific versions, unique to your DNA or medical needs, will be the ones to watch. Nutrigenomics, epigenetics and metabolomics could be disruptive and exciting growth areas I feel…
Claire Nuttall is founder of The Brand Incubator