For major food chains, creating the next “trendy” food item has always been a crucial challenge as having the right product on the shelf at the right time can often be a question of life or death.
That’s why food superpowers like Loblaw’s hire food product developers whose only job year round are to identify trends and create products that will (hopefully) be in high demand when they hit the shelves. I found out about this job and looked into the job description pretty recently and I think this could well be the best job in the world! Who wouldn’t want to be flying around the world attending food shows in NYC, eating ceviche in the streets of Lima or getting a chef teach you how to make fish tacos in Baja California?
But with foodie culture becoming more mainstream and consumers always savvier, it’s not getting easier for food brands to figure things out. In fact the well-informed, food-obsessed fanatics change their mind all the time and what’s trendy today may not interest them at all tomorrow.
To keep up with this fast-paced foodie world, brands are looking for shortcuts and new ways to have a finger on the pulse. Loblaw’s for example just partnered with Google to build a “food pulse index”, a tool that tracks online conversations to reveal hottest food topics real time and help inform marketing and product development strategies. Read about it here.
I don’t know if this is great or awful. Soon enough, Loblaw’s may not need to send its product developers around the world anymore because the pulse index will tell them all they need to know.
So will Google Pulse turn the professional food hunters into an endangered species?
I hope not, but only time will tell…