A woman using a smartphone to take a picture of a dragon fruit smoothie bowl

Food lifestylers, from micro-trend to re-enchantment with a "food system"

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Once exclusively aimed at those with food allergies and/or intolerances, gluten-free products are becoming increasingly popular. In the digital era, niche foods are emerging from the margins to become a true lifestyle choice. 

What used to be micro-communities are today macro-communities. Through a phenomenon that marketing people call crowd momentum, a handful of consumers can today guide the habits of a mass of consumers.

Focus on this newly emerging food ecosystem.

The impact of macro-communities on the mass consumer

 

Children eating vegetables together

In Europe, around 4% of the population suffers from a food allergy or intolerance. A significant fact is that an increasing number of children are affected. This can be explained by increased awareness of these issues and therefore more frequent diagnoses.

Currently, only 25% of the customers of Smart Fooding (e-commerce site specialised in "free-from" food products) present no particular food allergy or intolerance. In short, what was only marginal some years ago today represents a genuine food market.

Kevin Camphuis, founder of Shake-up Factory, a food start-ups consultancy, went so far as to say that this constituted in his opinion a true revolution in the food sector, the likes of which had not been seen in 100 years

 

New food players on the crest of a wave

 

Today, the new players in the food world have so many opportunities and means at their disposal for reaching the end consumer, such as specialised e-commerce and the new delivery services. This influences consumption modes and food habits, with the possibility of reaching out to a wider target. This means that we are seeing niche start-ups in the food sector getting transformed into genuine businesses at breakneck speed.

Delivery service
Food lifestyle: a new approach to food consumption

These days, people tend to accord greater importance to quality labels than to particular brands. Marketing a gluten-free product is therefore almost as important as developing your brand with consumers.

According to Pierre-Edouard Martial, Home & Luxury Lines Director at Nelly Rodi, there are two main underlying reasons for the development of new food niches:

Consumers are mistrustful of the food giants and the brands that they market. The big companies are seeing their reputations sullied, over and over, by food scandals or a lack of transparency about the traceability of products. In other words, consumers are becoming more and more demanding.

  • Search for desirability

The food sector is reproducing the codes of fashion, of the beauty world even, with the emergence of a true aesthetics linked to food. Hence the notion of "food lifestylers", a notion often espoused by innovative and agile start-ups.

Story-telling: giving meaning to consumption
Mini vegan burgers with beetroot, carrots and lettuce being photographed

Shake-up Factory insists on the importance of giving brands meaning. This is a requirement that addresses consumer demands to consume better, but also more responsibly. Niche brands are today embodied brands, with a founder who is the face and/or voice of the brand.

The new generation has expectations in terms of societal commitments and sustainable development, which are so elevated that the brands are forced to align themselves with these ideals. The smaller structures tend to show greater agility for doing this than the big corporations. The new players demonstrate a keen capacity for creating a service ecosystem around a product.

 

For Kevin Camphuis, the food ecosystem is highly developed in San Francisco, which is a veritable laboratory in which food trends emerge and are tested out. Nevertheless, considering the demands of consumers, the number of international investors and the diversity of food players that can be found in Paris, the City of Lights has everything going for it to impose itself as a hub of food innovation.