Specialty Food Magazine released its annual consumer report, revealing a growing interest in the marketplace (66% of U.S. consumers report having purchased specialty foods, up from 59% in 2011) with chocolate (62%), olive oil (59%) and cheese (56%) products leading the way. Have you sipped luxurious hot chocolate from Jacques Torres in NYC, sampled sea salt caramels from Fran’s in Seattle or explored sweets from your local chocolatier? (One of my favorites in NoVa is Artisan Confections) Beautiful, unique treats like these are worth their (relatively) small cost. No one re-gifts chocolate.
NASFT research indicates specialty food consumers are more inclined to shop at farmer’s markets, experiment with new recipes and buy food with a dual purpose, such as a charitible tie-in. A key note for the socmedia set: Facebook leads the way for discussing specialty food items and influencing buying decisions (77%), followed by YouTube (27%) and Twitter (19%). As a Twitter user whose feed is mostly populated with news + insight from chefs, brewers, winemakers and other F&B pros, I think the industry will see significant growth on that platform as well as the visual-heavy Pinterest -- especially among younger buyers – during the coming year.
As we head into the holiday season, what are you buying? Are you devoted to gourmet tea, fresh pasta or 20-year balsamic? And what most influences your purchases – word of mouth, social media, grocery browsing, impulse buys or traditional advertising?