Millennials are a core target for textural innovation

Texture is a vital component in the formulation of food and drink as it can be the difference between consumer acceptance of a product or instant aversion. What’s more, its impact is not limited to mouthfeel and it can also be relevant to the flavor, appearance and sound of a product, giving it a strong role in the entire eating experience. As a result, it is increasingly recognized as a valuable tool in the creation and marketing of new products and “Tapping Into Texture” is #5 in Innova’s list of Top Ten Trends for 2020.

Millennials are most adventurous

Original consumer research conducted by Innova Market Insights clearly identifies Millennials (26-35) as the most important audience when it comes to playing around with texture, perhaps not surprising considering the importance of experiential consumption to this adventurous demographic. Compared with the average (10 countries), Millennials indexed highest for agreement with most key statements, including “I love combination textures” and “Textures such as fluffy, crispy or smooth make food and drinks more indulgent.”

Below: Somersaults Crunchews Sunflower Seed And Mango Bites (US, Aug 2019), Asda Extra Special Pink Gin Gourmet Marshmallows (UK, Apr 2019), Within Without Chocolate Peanut Butter Chewy Granola (US, Sep 2019).
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They were also most likely to see their purchase decisions impacted by texture: 68% agreed, compared with a 60% average. In direct contrast to tis, Boomers (55+) were least likely to be affected or excited by texture, under-indexing by between 7 and 16 percentage points for each of the same statements.

Awareness of textural ingredients varies

Although an average 48% of consumers say that they “care more for the texture experience than for the ingredient list of a food product,” ingredients are themselves a vital part of textural development and the research explored consumer attitudes to important texturizers. Starch and gelatin are most familiar to consumers, with more than 90% claiming to know or to have heard of these; in contrast, less than 45% knew or had heard of gellan gum or carrageenan. Age was again significant in ingredient awareness, with the youngest Gen Z consumers (18-25) least likely to be aware of textural stalwarts such as pectin, gelatin and starch, while Boomers were least aware of carrageenan, gellan gum and xanthan gum.

What’s next?

Innova’s research also explored consumer reaction to familiar products with a twist on texture, i.e. Japanese fluffy or soufflé pancakes and Middle Eastern stretchy ice cream. As globalization continues, cultural overlap will see other textural novelties extending their reach into new markets, while even locally, familiar foods can find value by trying out new textures.

Combination textures are also expected to flourish in the coming years. Crunchy and chewy combinations are emerging, particularly in the snacking arena, while concepts such as mochi ice cream balls (chewy and creamy) and Asian bubble milk teas (chewy and smooth) are also effectively blending mouthfeels.

Further ahead, 3D printing could also offer scope for textural innovation, opening doors for more unusual shapes and textures and allowing manufacturers to play around with the entire structural design of food and drink to deliver novelty both visually and in the eating experience.

“Texture & The Consumer” is a recent Consumer Insider report from Innova Market Insights, which presents original consumer research, supported by analysis of new product development, in order to assess key trends surrounding this theme and to identify where future opportunities can be found.

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