The search for choice and the non-committal nature of today’s consumers has driven the meteoric rise of hybrid food and beverage options. Are these innovations a clever way to reach people or just a little bit gimmicky, asks Kara Duggan…
Hybrid creations are nothing new in the world of food and drink – we’ve seen cronuts, croloafs, spiders, speers, and many more. Driven by the desire for as much choice as possible, new and exciting experiences and, of course content to share in the digital realm, hybrid products are booming. Some of these of course, are brilliant innovations but some may have gone too far. In such a competitive landscape, we all must adapt to survive but I can’t help feeling some of these products are designed to capitalise on a fad to grab headlines rather than build loyal consumer communities.
There are many influences of the hybrid trend with some crediting the nation’s thirst for mixing alcoholic categories to the popularity of cocktails, while others credit the brewing community, which identified a need to entice new consumers into beer and cider with the addition of spirits such as tequila and bourbon. Wine and soft drinks are also big players in the hybrid world with mineral and fruit flavour infused waters to mention just a few.
Blurring the lines between categories means that consumers can tick more than one box at a time, and this behaviour has been driven by – you guessed it – millennials. Brand and category loyalty is just not a priority for them. This consumer group is fast-paced, curious and eager to discover new and exciting products and experiences, before hopping onto their digital and social platforms to share their stories as quickly as possible.
We all like shiny new toys, so surely if brands continue to innovate and produce hybrid products, they’ll do well right? But for how long? NPD is an expensive business and a marketing strategy to support is no easy feat. Having read quite widely on the topic, it seems there’s already a little hybrid-fatigue out there, and the element of surprise is no longer for the taking. Perhaps the F&B industry should look at consumer behaviour, future trends and what’s consistently performing well, before getting too carried away in the kitchen.
What’s fun and exciting today, may completely miss the mark tomorrow. It can be a lucrative, but risky, business…
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