In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer choices, understanding the key drivers behind product selection and decision-making is the holy grail for marketers. Nowhere is this more at play than in the seemingly infinite possibilities available to consumers when it comes to Foods and Beverages, where understanding consumers “tastes” can make or break a product.

Unlocking the secrets of these preferences when it comes to taste, quality ingredients, brand trust, affordability, and convenience  is not just insightful; it’s the key to winning the hearts and wallets of your target audience. Let’s explore how these attributes shape consumer decisions and discover actionable strategies to leverage these insights in your marketing efforts.

Consumer Preference Factors in Food & Beverage – Tastes Great

First and foremost, flavor isn’t just a sensation on the taste buds; it’s a gateway to consumer loyalty. Flavor preferences are deeply rooted in the interplay between our senses, memories, and emotions. The psychology behind these preferences is a fascinating exploration of the human experience of taste and how it shapes our decision-making process. 

Understanding the personal narrative woven into a consumer’s flavor preferences allows marketers to create products that align with their unique stories, fostering a deeper connection. Whether it’s the comforting warmth of a familiar flavor or the excitement of a new and adventurous taste, the impact on consumer choice is profound. 

Cultural influences can help shape flavors & target diverse consumer segments. Considering that 78% of North American consumers are positive about foods and beverages that have unusual or new flavors, why not introduce limited-edition flavors inspired by various cultures?

Segment your audience and collaborate with foodies and chefs from diverse backgrounds to create a fusion of flavors that target unique segments of your audience, ensuring content that not only promotes these special releases but also becomes a celebration of cultural diversity.

Sixty-eight percent (68%) of marketers believe community-building is important to creating emotional loyalty, so encourage your community to share moments of excitement and curiosity sparked by your bold or new flavors. Evoke emotions through adventurous flavors to stimulate excitement and curiosity. User-generated content featuring taste tests, first impressions, or creative uses of your products can turn each bite into a thrilling adventure, creating a shared emotional experience.

Consumer Preference Factors in Food & Beverage – Made from Highest Quality Ingredients

When it comes to the perception of product quality, the journey involves more than just the tangible elements. Evolving standards demand a deeper exploration into the transparency of sourcing, creating a brand perception that resonates with the values of the discerning consumer.

Make your community part of the sourcing narrative. Share insights into your sourcing decisions, whether it’s selecting ethical suppliers, sustainable practices, or the journey from farm to table. Actively involve your community in your quality assurance process. 

Launch a product sampling campaign that invites your community to experience your flavors firsthand. Encourage users to share their tasting experiences through UGC, capturing the genuine reactions and excitement sparked by your products. This not only offers a sensory exploration but also creates authentic content that showcases the real-time connection between your brand and the taste preferences of your audience. UGC from the sampling campaign becomes a dynamic testimony to the delightful journey your flavors take each consumer on, which you can later repurpose across key marketing channels.

This involvement not only builds trust but also elevates your brand perception by showcasing a collaborative commitment to excellence.

Consumer Preference Factors in Food & Beverage – Brand I Trust

In the intricate dance between consumers and brands, trust emerges as the unshakable foundation upon which lasting relationships are built. In fact, 93% of marketers agree that consumers trust content created by real people rather than content created by brands. 

Brand trust is earned through consistent actions and transparent communication. From delivering on promises to cultivating open lines of communication, these tactics contribute to a brand’s reputation as a reliable and trustworthy partner in the consumer journey. 

Take a customer-centric approach. Actively seek and respond to feedback, then share the authentic stories of your community members. Whether it’s a customer’s cooking breakthrough story or a milestone meal shared with family and friends, these narratives contribute to the authenticity of your brand. Actively engaging with your community’s stories demonstrates that your brand is not just about transactions but about genuine connections.

Pacific Coast Producers, an agricultural cooperative in California specializing in canning fruits and tomatoes for private brands for retailers, restaurants, and schools across the USA, launched the Can Fan Community. “The Can Fan Community is a gateway for consumers to unlock a world of culinary possibilities and discover the gems within their pantry,” said Tami Iverson, Director of Marketing. “The community is our way of inviting everyone to join us in celebrating and promoting the benefits and convenience of canned fruits and tomatoes.” 

Consumer Preference Factors in Food & Beverage – Affordability & Value

According to the USDA, “in 2023, food prices increased by 5.8 percent. Food-at-home prices increased by 5.0 percent, while food-away-from-home prices increased by 7.1 percent.”

The price of a product is more than just a numerical figure; it’s a psychological trigger that guides consumer choices and takes center stage. Understanding the role of pricing in decision-making involves recognizing that consumers perceive value not just in absolute terms but in relation to their expectations. Additionally, over 97% of consumers are motivated to be loyal and purchase more frequently when a brand listens to their opinions and feedback.

To improve the perceived value of your brand: 

  • Create a community of loyal customers through exclusive discounts, early access to sales, or personalized offers. This not only becomes a testament to the benefits of loyalty and repeat purchases but also serves as a powerful marketing tool to attract new members. Fun fact: From our recent study, nearly 82% of community members identify as brand advocates.
  • Signal quality by encouraging your community to share their experiences with your product(s), emphasizing the quality and premium nature. User-generated content featuring testimonials, reviews, and even unboxing experiences is a testament to the perceived value that aligns with price. 
  • Showcase the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into creating your products. Invite your community to share UGC that highlights the meticulous processes, premium ingredients and materials, commitment to sustainability, and attention to detail. This not only educates consumers but also strengthens the association between higher prices and superior quality.

Consumer Preference Factors in Food & Beverage – Convenience & Availability

What good is brand preference if a product is not easy to find and easy to buy? Savvy brands leverage distribution strategies to enhance availability, ensuring their products are readily accessible when and where consumers need them. Tapping into your consumers to gather grocery and Big Box shopping habits and preference data can help make the case for increased distribution and shelf space. For many traditional brands, this also means adopting digital strategies from Direct to Consumer (DTC) brands, creating shoppable experiences on their websites and product pages, innovative delivery methods, and blending digital engagement with in-store experiences.

It’s clear that today’s consumers are discerning and actively engaged in shaping the narratives around the products they choose. For marketers, understanding, embracing, and responding to the evolving nature of consumer preferences is essential to stay relevant in the hyper-competitive food & beverage space – and brands that build and leverage their community of consumers have a decided advantage. 

Did you know 78% of consumers say interacting with a brand’s online community makes that brand more “top of mind” when shopping? Start building your own community and product sampling campaigns today. Request a demo

Ivonne Aldaz TINT