The Inspiration for Flavor Innovation

by | Aug 21, 2020

Fact: Most people like to try new flavors
  • 67% of us agree that “we love to discover new flavors.” We rank taste as the #1 driver of choice for foods and beverages, according to a study from Innova.
  • More than 70% of people will visit a food & drink establishment that offers new flavors, says Technomic’s research, with two-thirds agreeing they’ll pay more for innovative tastes.

Fact: Successful flavor innovation is challenging

The value of flavor puts pressure on food and beverage manufacturers to dedicate resources to innovation and to create a process that finds the next ‘it’ taste.

What makes the process challenging?

  • Finding useful sources of inspiration for new flavors.
  • And determining the sweet spot between creative experimentation (which can seem like a painter throwing dots on canvas) and competent discipline that moves ideas to market.
Finding Flavor Inspiration

One or more of the following resources can help you create a canvas of new flavor ideas:

  • Market Sweeps. Gather a range of recently introduced flavors in your category or across adjacent categories to see what’s trending. Are any ‘themes’ like sweet-spice or flavor tactics like ‘mystery flavors’ emerging that you want to follow?
  • Your Teams. Since your sales, marketing, and product development staff are consumers, talk with them to find out which new flavors they’ve tried and liked across any category. Ask them what they’ve explored during restaurant visits and on recent vacations. Are there any flavors that could crossover to your product line?
  • Your Customers and Supplier Partners. Multiple inquiries from customers about a new flavor can lead you to fast-track an idea. And do suppliers have new products available that you haven’t tapped into yet?
Selecting Strong Flavor Ideas

You can narrow your list of new flavor options using a rigorous approach to evaluation:

  • Establish clear criteria to help you decide to go forward, modify, or reject a flavor.
  • Conduct a small test to share potential ideas with internal staff, a few retail partners, or key customers.
  • Gather feedback to learn which flavor ideas:
    • have taste appeal
    • people would not only try but buy again
    • have any limitations that require a change to the go-to-market strategy, like becoming a seasonal or limited-time-offer instead of a year-round addition to your line-up
Partnering to Develop New Flavors

When you’ve identified winning flavor concepts, you’ll need to address essential questions with your flavor development partner. The team of talented flavor scientists at National Flavors will ask you for the following information:

  • What are your label restrictions? N&A, Natural, GMO-free, etc
  • What are your cost restrictions?
  • What is the potential/estimated annual volume?
  • What is the type of application/finished product?
  • Are there any thermal processes, functional ingredients, or sweetener systems which may negatively impact flavor?

These insights will help us deliver the right flavor for your products. Contact our team to get started!

Product Development in the Time of COVID-19

In our recent webinar series, “Lessons from the Toilet Paper Aisle: How to Innovate in a Changing World,” we explored ways to keep innovations on target and on time.

  • Explore Cost Savings Opportunities. As consumers try to deal with more financial insecurity, companies providing food face increased pressure to deliver value. Finding ways to improve price-value includes reducing the cost of goods, including ingredient costs like flavor. With support from National Flavors and Flavorush, you can easily compare flavor options to find solutions that fit your cost-savings goals.
  • Use Reformulation and ‘Welcome Back’ Campaigns to Maintain Distribution. Since brand loyalty has softened due to scarcity, and consumers prioritize availability over exact flavor matches, reformulations represent an opportunity to offer better value. Creating campaigns to reintroduce your brands may also compel retailers to put your items back on the shelf.
  • Limited Time Offers (LTOs) Can Engage Consumers. Seasonal or occasion-based LTOs can generate much-needed incremental revenue and keep your brands top-of-mind with consumers. Slotting LTOs into your production calendar 2 to 4 quarters ahead ensures you have a consistent pipeline of news (and delicious flavors) to showcase.
  • Keep Innovation Agile to Meet Launch Goals.  Our webinar featured a desktop innovation activity where we layered several flavors onto lemonade. Close-in line extensions that offer a fresh take on a familiar brand will stimulate interest. The addition of favorites like coconut, blackberry, grapefruit, and watermelon elevated a classic beverage into buzz-worthy new tastes.

You can watch the full webinar on demand here.

Innovating with Flavorush

Research from Mintel and Euromonitor highlights several consumer behaviors that are affecting flavors in 2020:

Behavior Theme Flavor Trend Natural Flavor Solutions
Experiences Fun, celebratory tastes Birthday Cake, Sugar Cookie
Community Nostalgic, classic flavors Cotton Candy, Butterscotch
Authenticity Simple, familiar flavors Brown Sugar, Watermelon
Inclusivity Global flavors Mango, Sweet Rice Milk
Uniquely Personal Fusion/mash-up tastes Caramelized Citrus, Berry Lemonade
Balanced Well-Being Functional flavors Ginger, Cinnamon


Find Your Next New Flavor!

When you open a free Flavorush account, you can get samples of the flavors we’ve highlighted here shipped to you in 24 hours. You’ll find hundreds of flavors available to help you find inspiration.

And if you’re looking for a specific flavor beyond the assortment on Flavorush, contact our team. We have a robust portfolio of flavor solutions to support your innovation efforts!

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