The 'Why' Behind Food & Beverage: How Storytelling Can Amplify Food & Beverage
Q&A with Imtiaz Chaglani, Director – Business Development, Sweegen Asia Pacific
What is a storytelling approach to product development? Why is it important?
People are looking for exciting ingredients that inspire new activities or encourage favorite ones. Consumers, especially younger and the digitally-savvy, are looking for unique, authentic experiences when purchasing products. They expect brands to understand and communicate with them on a deeper level through meaningful stories, attached to food and beverage, that align with their overall values, interests, activities, or health and wellness goals.
Looking at product innovation from a ‘storytelling’ perspective provides a fresh lens for thinking about new flavors, functionality, product formats, or wellness benefits. For example, if you are a juice brand, you might envision experiences your consumers may be seeking while drinking your beverage: Are they drinking your beverage while having breakfast with family? Or during a wellness or exercise occasion? In a highly digital-focused world, how will your consumer tell your brand story? Picture that story, then start brainstorming innovation ideas around it.
How does a storytelling approach differ from looking at trends? How would you apply this approach in the Asia Pacific market?
Storytelling is a creative way to bring trends to life. There are so many macro trends that have long life spans, such as the “health and wellness” trend. The most important question to ask is: How do you bring trends to life for consumers and meet them in this moment? Right now, generally in Asia, consumers are looking for better-for-you beverages and snacks that they can grab on-the-go to help prevent health issues rather than respond to them. Using storytelling, you can brainstorm different scenarios where a consumer will see themselves using a specific product because it matches their lifestyle choices.
How can food and beverage brands use storytelling to capture growth?
Food and beverage brands must craft compelling stories that speak directly to their consumers. Storytelling can be leveraged when marketing products to consumers by connecting with them through different channels, social media or consumer surveys, to learn exactly what motivates them. Is it lunching with friends? Exploring the outdoors with family? Brunching on weekends? Watching TV favorites on the couch? Once consumer insights are collected, brands can personalize products to meet consumer needs by targeting their lifestyle preferences and personal values.
To cater to the proactive health movement, brands must remove or reduce sugar in their product offerings. They can also tap into the plant-based segment by delivering reduced-sugar plant-based nutrition in drinks and snacks made with dairy alternatives. The key to successful innovation is to develop better-for-you products by leveraging nature-based ingredients and complete taste systems that help tackle formulation challenges.
How does Sweegen work with companies to develop new products?
Product innovation is Sweegen’s soul and identity. We help brands design and deliver products with the purpose of continually forging the future of wellness in food and drink.
Sweegen works with clients to develop new products or renovate existing ones by exploring new categories, formats, and flavors based on current consumer trends and stories brands want to tell. Based on product development goals – whether that is reducing sugar to improve the wellness profile, adding in an active ingredient to make a wellness claim, or creating an entirely new product format – We leverage our diverse taste portfolio, which includes Taste Modulation Flavor Systems, nature-based Signature Sweetener Systems, and Taste Blazer Systems (all-in-one solutions delivering flavor, sweetness, and texture in a single product format).
What are the ways to think about innovation when developing new products or renovating existing products?
Explore new product categories, formats, and flavors with better-for-you ingredients.
At Sweegen, we partner with clients to help them innovate – We consider their products, their consumers, and macro/micro trends relevant to the product category. We then start developing potential stories consumers may want to experience when using a new product. We test those stories directly with consumers to ensure they speak to them. Once we confirm a concept is compelling, we begin the product development process.
Are consumers more receptive to breakthrough innovation or incremental changes over time?
The most impactful brands in the food and beverage space are those that continuously produce disruptive innovations.
To truly set your business apart from the competition, and have consumers repeatedly purchase and market your products through word of mouth, you must be receptive to their ever-evolving needs to help build unwavering brand loyalty that keeps them interested in future innovations you bring to market.
What makes Sweegen ingredient solutions unique to the market?
Sweegen owns an industry-leading and patented bioconversion process which enables a diverse portfolio of Signature Nature-Based Sweeteners. Our wide range of high-quality Signature Stevia Sweeteners, available to the food and beverage industry, includes Reb M, D, E, and many others. All of our nature-based sweeteners are delicious tasting, label-friendly, competitively priced, and offer zero-calorie sweetness and a performance closest-to-sugar.
Approval of the framework for steviol glycosides by Codex paved the way for broad global approval of Sweegen’s stevia from bioconversion technology. This makes it easier for brands to create products that meet consumer needs. We are working on bringing more Signature Sweeteners to market, including Brazzein, a protein-based sweetener.
Sweegen’s portfolio is Kosher, Halal, Vegan, Gluten Free, and non-GMO. Our proprietary bioconversion process means that there is limited waste and low water usage in the production of our Sweetening and Flavor Systems. Also, the high sweetness intensity of our Bestevia® nature-based sweeteners means that a lower carbon footprint will be required vs what will be required to harvest, process, and transport a comparable amount of sweetness from conventional sweeteners like table sugar.
I’ve heard of Sweegen using the term “Taste Blazer”. What exactly is a Taste Blazer?
Sweegen’s team of product developers are known as Taste Blazers. They embrace a future where their product innovation expertise and advanced technologies enable food and beverage brands to develop and deliver wellness products for consumers globally. They forge new pathways to tackle the industry’s biggest challenges, like helping brands remove the bad elements like sugar and artificial sweeteners, and adding in the good elements, like functional ingredients, vitamins, and proteins, while focusing on the bottom line – making better-for-you products taste delicious.
Sweegen Taste Blazers are not simply flowing with the future. They are transforming it.
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