Lynn Dornblaser
Lynn is the Director of Innovation & Insight at Mintel. Lynn applies her unique perspective on the market and new product development to tailored client research.

Mintel’s team of expert food and drink, food science and product innovation analysts were at IFT, July 16-18. If you were not able to make it to the show, we’ve got you covered!

Here, Mintel Director of Innovation and Insights, Lynn Dornblaser, shares insight, research analysis and examples on how to decipher food trends versus fads, as well as when to jump on the bandwagon… and jump off. 

Consumers see a lot of new products when they walk into their grocery stores. These new products can be categorized into two broad types of product definitions: products that become part of the consumers’ everyday lives and products that appear on the market quickly, then disappear just as fast.

To be able to differentiate the two, it is important to understand what constitutes a trend or fad. In the rapidly evolving food industry, a trend is a product that slowly snowballs and shows steady growth over time. A trend is versatile; expanding into countries, various categories and easy for consumers, restaurants and retail to adopt.

A fad is something that appears quickly, grows quickly and disappears quickly. The products of a fad have the shock factor, but the buzz lasts as long as its 15 minutes of fame and fades away.

Trends can start at any point and can be influenced by several, various factors. Trends gain momentum by any or all of the following: media, foodservice, consumer interest, published research, government influence and retail. 

Using the example of US new product introductions of low carb and wholegrain, we are able to spot the fad using Mintel data. While we see a sharp increase of low carb over a few years, the decline sharply falls and the number of new products continue to fade. With wholegrain, we see a slow, but steady increase of products that still shows promise of continuous gain.

What we think

Rely on data and listen to your gut. Identifying what’s a trend and what’s a fad is part art, part science. While it’s important to rely on market data, listening to common sense should always be a factor in product choice.

Not all trends succeed. You can be on trend and still fail. Being true to your branding and your consumers will always give you the best chance.

Remember what’s most important. It’s food. It’s supposed to taste good!