First impressions count
The first impression often decides whether a consumer buys a product again or not, so it’s critical to start off right when launching food innovations. ‘New products require different handling so giving it into the hands of an expert, who treats the new product with respect and does justice to it, creates a higher chance for a good first impression,’ Penney says. And this also helps to catch a product’s minor potential weaknesses – for example, suppose vegan mozzarella is not suitable for lasagne because it burns too quickly. When a chef knows that, caprese may be a better option to offer guests than lasagne. But if a customer uses it to make lasagne at home and the dish doesn’t turn out well, they will not be likely to buy the product again.
Another key aspect that a chef can transfer to a product or a brand is culinary credibility. ‘There is always doubt in the promotion of a product by a company producing or selling it, but an independent chef vouching with his or her credibility is approval of the highest order for consumers and other chefs,’ says Rachel Soeharto of Impossible Foods. Once a chef is convinced of the quality of a product, they will not only stick with the brand and be more open to new product innovations – they can even be integrated into the marketing. This was the case with Adam Penney and his omnichannel support for the product he helped develop; he now advertises it on social media and takes part in video conferences with journalists. By providing positive first impressions and culinary credibility, the hospitality industry can play a key role in the market launch and in generating demand among end consumers, who will ultimately drive sales once the product hits the supermarket shelves.