Food and Beverage Brands Feel the Millennial Impact: Flavor Expansion with Digital Solutions

food and beverage
Thanks to changing consumer demographics and preferences, it’s become increasingly necessary for food and beverage companies to experiment with bolder and exotic flavors.
Image source: Flickr CC user squawkr

Noticed anything different about the beverage aisle lately? The range of flavor formulations has expanded in new, exciting ways—some of which were probably never imagined 20 years ago! Spicy chili peppers? Thai basil? These flavors aren’t typically found in drinks!

At least they didn’t used to be. The rise of the millennial generation drew attention when they outstripped their Baby Boomer parents in population size. Food and beverage companies have had to adapt to the younger generations’ palate. Thanks to today’s highly connected world via the internet and social media, people are exposed to global information every day. Foods that were unheard of 40 years ago are now considered commonplace. Witness how instant ramen has become a staple of every broke college student’s diet.

The Evolution of the Millennial Palate

In millennials, the constant exposure to other cultures has affected their palate. The demographic is known for their adventurous tastes.1 In particular, this younger generation loves spicy flavor profiles. Look how ubiquitous Sriracha sauce has become. I remember when I only saw that distinctive green-topped bottle in pho restaurants. Now you can find them lining your neighborhood grocery store shelves. Times really have changed.

But it isn’t just spicy flavors millennials seek out. Perhaps partly due to a growing Latino and Asian population in the U.S., citrus and ginger flavors have also gained popularity.2 We’re not talking about plain old citrus flavors like orange and lemon, either. Yuzu, satsuma and blood orange are among the prevalent options you can find nowadays. More so than any other age demographic, millennials are driven to experiment and try new things. They want to test the limits of what flavor can do. For example, one of the biggest trends to arise in recent years is “sweet heat,” a flavor profile that combines spicy heat with a sweet note.

Innovation from Food and Beverage Companies Can Meet Millennial Demand

R&D laboratories can take their cues from many culinary traditions. With access to more flavors and spices than ever before, the possibilities are endless. Who would ever have thought cucumber jalapeño lemonade or tamarind soda could become a thing?

But while there are many flavor profiles to choose from, there are other qualities food and beverage companies need to consider. Shelf life, for one, matters when it comes to dry beverage applications such as drink mixes and teas. Being able to keep these products fresher longer while also bringing true, more authentic flavors would be a boon.

Another item to consider is color. Even though a beverage’s taste is the most important trait, consumers judge with their eyes first, not their taste buds. The pairing of flavor with color is an important factor to take into account when designing new beverage formulations.3 A beverage can be the most delicious concoction ever made, but it probably won’t find an audience if it’s a muddy brown.

For food and beverage firms to keep up with millennial demand, it’s crucial to bring innovation to their formulations. To help with this goal are a wide range of digital tools, including the electronic lab notebook (ELN). With an ELN, laboratories can increase efficiency, streamline the R&D process, and promote collaboration among researchers.

But the increase of digital tools in your laboratory can also introduce headaches. Incompatible data formats and having to convert from one database to another adds time and unnecessary complications. To address this concern, BIOVIA created a solution offering specially designed for formulation development. Not only does the system incorporate ELNs and their advantages, it adds useful abilities from other digital tools as well:

  • Access to all past and present projects to prevent unnecessary experimental repetition.
  • Capable of searching through data, promoting new idea development.
  • Ability to track materials from receipt to disposal.
  • Ensures laboratory safety and compliance.

In order to capitalize on the opportunity brought on by the adventurous millennial palate, food and beverage companies need to streamline their innovative efforts to bring products to market faster. The BIOVIA Solution Offering for Formulation Development can do just that. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Five Marketing Lessons for Brands in the Adult Beverage Category,” October 24, 2014, http://www.forbes.com/sites/jefffromm/2014/10/28/five-marketing-lessons-for-brands-in-the-adult-beverage-category/
  2. “Millennials approve: Exotic flavors abound in the beverage industry,” June 26, 2015, http://www.fooddive.com/news/millennials-approve-exotic-flavors-abound-in-the-beverage-industry/401377/
  3. “Beverage brands expand flavor choices,” June 15, 2015, http://www.bevindustry.com/articles/88505-beverage-brands-expand-flavor-choices

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