Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eating versus Cooking

One of the observations we made in defining Generational Expectations was the shift from cooking to eating. Although they accomplish the same outcome, they are very different perspectives. We observed the generational shift of predominantly moms, although this is changing as well, from Seniors' and older Boomers' view of cooking to feed their families to Gen X’s general lack of interest in cooking and increased reliance on restaurants and semi-prepared foods to Millennials' shifting view of eating as entertainment and a social experience.

The shift has fueled the explosion of restaurants and grocery aisle options and the coming effects will ripple through many industries. Kitchen designs, for example, will be questioned for the best use of space. Do I really need two ovens or a 30” range? How will Millennials redesign their kitchens to create an “eating out at home” social experience? Restaurants will need to view their business as part of a whole social relationship that includes, but is not limited to, eating a meal at a location. How will restaurants need to change to become better environments for friends and families to socialize and be entertained? The changes will be significant and faster than expected.

I was thrilled to see that someone gets it. Food Network has created a new channel called Food2. This new channel and online site is uniquely targeted at the 21-34 year old demographic. According to Food Network, they have observed an increase in their appeal to younger audiences. What I think is more interesting and insightful is that they conducted research and found that, consistent with our Generational Expectations observation, younger audiences want to experience food-related content in different ways. They found that, consistent with this generation’s baseline, they wanted shorter form non-linear content, more emphasis on experimental tastes and increased access to social and content sharing tools.

Food2 is described as "designed to be a social experience - just like food itself. It's the intersection of food, drink and pop culture." The announcement points to a heavy emphasis on integration with innate technologies, Facebook and Twitter, and featuring short videos with young culinary talent. They also launched original webisodes. Food2’s approach is “to live up to its goal of experiencing food through the eyes of Millennials.”

This a great example of a company recognizing a generational shift, researching it, and then designing an offering based on what they were told not what they thought they should offer. I wonder if the white goods, small appliance, restaurant, and packaged food companies are taking note of this shift. So far I haven’t seen any evidence they have moved from designing for my mother, maybe my wife but certainly not my daughter. What generation is your company listening to?

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