Food & beverage trends with APCO Worldwide

October 7, 2021

Written by Haley Corzo
At NewsWhip’s September webinar, Steve Salvador from APCO Worldwide joined NewsWhip’s CEO, Paul Quigley to explore the ways that food and beverage brands aim to delight consumers, shape culture, and become more purpose-driven.

Pursuing deeper engagement with consumers has led communicators to seek new methods of gathering and analyzing real-time information to inform their strategies, inspirations, and decisions, whether it’s for fall food trends or any other topic. Salvador is no stranger to this shift, watching technology broaden reporting capabilities as an Emmy-award winning producer and editor at CNN. 

Salvador has recently spent his time directing video programming and brand storytelling for APCO Worldwide, a global communications and advisory firm working with companies across various industries, including food and beverage. 

Before digging into the trends occurring in the food and beverage industry and how they affect the way brands approach content creation, Salvador begins by expressing the important role data and media intelligence plays in helping to identify those trends and their significance to business.

Using NewsWhip to identify long term story trends 

Brands are constantly competing for attention, and while it’s expected that they follow the hyper trends in the news, Salvador notes that “there’s a lot to learn from the longer term story trends across geographies.” One of the ways APCO Worldwide is able to identify these trends is by using NewsWhip.

“One of the things that I think is great about Spike and Analytics, is its global reach, but also its ability to kind of break down patterns with interactions,” says Salvador. “We’ve used it for food and beverage brands to see these distinct media coverage patterns [and] what’s really resonating in certain geographies.”

Narratives might develop in different ways in different cultures, and that’s what APCO Worldwide seeks to uncover and understand. Salvador believes that being able to break out the different priorities in different regions can “go a long way in making ultimately the content more effective.”

The demand for NoLow beverages 

Shifting the conversation to focus on trends in the beverage space, Quigley and Salvador discuss the consumer push toward non-alcoholic or low alcohol, often described as NoLow, and how brands are responding to this preference.

The NoLow trend has gained momentum during the pandemic, with consumers interested in alternative options. “I think the market has suffered from few options, and frankly, subpar taste, especially with non-alcoholic beverages,” says Salvador. He emphasizes that brands have to build trust in the market, and that a key theme for one of APCO Worldwide’s clients in this industry has always been quality and craftsmanship.

While prioritizing quality does align with most brand aesthetics, better taste is also a significant driver for sales. Salvador explains that if brands “put the focus back on craft, even when the alcohol is absent,” there’s a better chance that audiences respond more favorably to the products. 

Sustainability is a crowded space

Sustainability is a trend that continues to be relevant across most industries, with every major brand having something to say about it. The challenge for brands remains in their ability to “acknowledge commitments to sustainability, in a tangible and evocative way, but also in a credible way,” says Salvador. 

Salvador also acknowledges that the consumer demand for more sustainable sourcing and responsible packaging adds to the pressure to respond. Although some brands are pledging commitments to initiatives like cutting single-use plastics, consumers also want to see who is taking charge now as opposed to further down the line.

Fall flavors and food trends in 2021

Pumpkin spice seems to be impossible to avoid at this time of year, and other flavors like maple and berry are on the rise this season. “I think nostalgia and comfort are a factor here, in terms of what seems to just be consistently resonating,” says Salvador. 

Although flavor trends are covered year after year, with ones like pumpkin spice continuing to be a favorite regardless of it being oversaturated, the element of nostalgia is enough to keep consumers interested. 

This idea can also be applied to the Halloween world, with Candy Corn trending among brands this season. Salvador jokes that Candy Corn is always assumed to be one of the least popular Halloween candies, but that “maybe everyone just loves a comeback story,” playing into the belief that nostalgia is an attractive trait and one that brands can capitalize on.

Trends are always occurring in the food and beverage industry, with some paving the way to a dynamic future, and others allowing room for appreciated traditions. The use of data and media intelligence is key to helping brands navigate through the space in a successful and impactful way. 

If you would like to read about food and beverage trends for the holiday season, you can do that here.

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