Amplified experiences: what do consumers expect in the post-pandemic?

May 25, 2022

Reading time7 minutes

Innovations of proposals in flavors and textures, collaborations between brands and technological interactions are some of the ways to provide entertainment and fun in different moments of consumption.

Food and drink increasingly serve as a way to find the comfort and fun consumers have longed for. This was the case during the pandemic and, with its slowdown, the possibilities expanded.

Feeling good has become the expected outcome in all interactions, whether with people or with a product. Consumers are also striving to transform their perception into a more optimistic view. In Latin America, this behavior becomes more latent.

This means that as consumers expand their concept of health to include mental well-being, they also expect experiences to provide feelings such as happiness, comfort, and safety, notes Mintel, a market intelligence company.

For Euromonitor, the pandemic caused consumers to promote a major renewal of life (The Great Life Refresh), resulting in drastic personal changes and a collective restart of values and goals. In 2015, according to the market research company, only 12% of consumers prioritized time for themselves, which doubled to 24% in 2021. Consumers now have a greater appreciation for work-life balance.

This transformation will continue to be the dominant trend that characterizes short-term lifestyle changes. To respond to this moment, Euromonitor recommends that companies innovate in goods, services and experiences.

Looking at the food and beverage industry, industry brands will have the opportunity to develop solutions for meals, snacks, desserts and drinks that amplify flavors, colors, textures and interactivity to create memorable experiences in everyday items and activities, both in the real world and in the virtual world.

In addition, entertainment does not need to be an experience that is restricted to the product, but rather is an attribute that can be experienced at all points of contact with the brand, through digital resources, for example. On the other hand, consumers will tend to enjoy their offline lives more, with everything returning to normal.

Mintel reinforces that brands will also need to consider their positioning and their target audience when developing these strategies and innovations, after all, there are many aspects that need to be considered, such as low-priced treats for those who are concerned about the pocket, affordable luxuries and even experiences for those willing to pay dearly for a service or product.

For consumers who are still cautious about venturing outdoors, brands can offer indoor entertainment opportunities, with meal kits, digital cooking classes, and gamified recipes, and there are brands investing in it.

Amplified flavors

Innova Market Insights found that more than 1 in 2 global consumers say that “post Covid-19, I want to venture into my food and drink choices.” These same consumers stated that they would like to see more technological collaborations to create indulgent flavors, textures or combinations of formats.

They crave sensory stimuli and playful proposals, and from that, brands can create flavor combinations to challenge the senses.

Starbucks, for example, partnered with Nestlé to launch RTD (ready to drink) drinks that blend distillate or beer with juices, teas and soft drinks from two of Starbucks’ best-selling products, Doubleshot and Frappucino, in the Latin American market. The solution seeks to meet the wishes of young people in the region and allows Starbucks and Nestlé to be relevant in occasions of relaxation at home.

In Australia, Magnum launched flavors inspired by Amsterdam, Tahiti and New York to help satisfy the desire to travel during the pandemic. Another example of innovation in flavors comes from The King of Beers, which met with the UK’s most famous popcorn brand to launch Budweiser’s official popcorn.

Innova highlights that the atmosphere of celebration is stimulating the development of unusual products, such as Nissin, which, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, launched the Cup Noodle Soda soda line. Four of its most popular and best-selling flavors – original, seafood, curry and chili tomatoes – have been transformed into carbonated beverages in Japan.

Speaking of drinks, Coors Seltzer brought the nostalgic “orange cream” flavor to its line, as well as having launched the ice cream format at an ice cream shop in New York.

ScreenshRTD drinks Starbucks and Nestlé.ot_1-300x167
RTD drinks from the partnership between Starbucks and Nestlé.
Magnum Austrália
Launches of Magnum Australia.
Budweiser Popcorn
Official Budweiser popcorn, released in the UK.
Nissin carbonated drinks
Nissin carbonated drinks, released in Japan.
Ice cream Coors Seltzer
Ice cream from Coors Seltzer in New York.

Interactive food

In Brazil, 66% of consumers say that most of their leisure activities involve the use of digital technology, according to Mintel. Therefore, digital strategies are essential when it comes to promoting new experiences to Brazilians.

In this sense, the growing popularity of games presents opportunities to gamify daily activities, such as cooking. Call of Duty fans, for example, inspired the creation of a new wine in Argentina.

In the United States, preparing meals and snacks for football game day is an important ritual for many fans. Therefore, Pepsi decided to partner with quarterback Josh Allen to share a special moment. The brand took the player into the fan house virtually in order to encourage people to cook their favorite snacks alongside Allen. Pepsi’s virtual reality app includes food and beverage recipes, such as the classic pork sandwich. A solution that uses digital to create offline experiences.

Another example of interaction that balances on and off-line is Reese’s Puffs, which created packages that interact with the public also through augmented reality. The back of the cereal box includes a layout where cereal pieces can be placed, and with the PuffFX app, musical beats are generated based on where the cereals are placed.

In the food service segment, the Kappa Sushi restaurant in Japan takes home more than food, but without having to use digital resources to do so. The network rents the sushi mat for use at home, ideal for different moments in the family or among friends.

Euromonitor reinforces that business models need to create a seamless customer experience, regardless of the channel. For the company, while consumers are shopping online for convenience or security, they also crave meaningful interpersonal connections. Therefore, using a hybrid approach to meet the new consumer standard is crucial.

Another point highlighted in Euromonitor’s report on technology and consumer experience is in relation to an audience she calls “backup planners”, who are willing to pay more to have priority access to their preferred or exclusive items. With supply chains still impacted because of the pandemic, these consumers use technology to move ahead in the queue, relying on subscription services or community group purchase to ensure deliveries. They can also pay more to get the first access to their products, which opens up an opportunity to develop pre-sale items with premium value.

In addition, mobile apps with digital waiting lists and queues allow consumers to secure their place in the queue and help businesses control traffic. With an eye on this movement, PepsiCo launched two direct-to-consumer websites in 2020. Consumers can order specialized packages, such as Rise & Shine and Workout & Recovery, from or purchase individual items on PepsiCo’s food and beverage portfolio.

Wine of Duty
Wine of Duty, the first wine born in the virtual world.
Quarterback Josh Allen Pepsi
Through an augmented reality app, Pepsi took quarterback Josh Allen into the kitchen of Americans.
PuffFX app
With the PuffFX app, musical beats are generated based on where the cereals are placed in the packaging.
Kappa Sushi
The Kappa Sushi chain in Japan offers mats for meals at home, creating the same restaurant experience.

Trend studies, in addition to the solutions recently launched by the food and beverage industry, indicate some ways to inspire brands to develop solutions that involve the senses of consumers. The goal is to create legitimate and relaxed connections, which help provide lighter and relaxed moments, as consumers want.

Traditional business models and logistics networks are also being challenged. Companies need to evolve as quickly as consumer behavior is changing, Euromonitor recommends. For this, the customer experience must be multi-faceted and personalized. In this sense, hybrid business models allow companies to rotate between face-to-face and virtual commitments while the near future remains unpredictable.

Liked? Share this content!