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Regional Food Theme, Creating Distinction Through Leveraging Regional Differences
In recent times there has been a greater emphasis placed on location when it comes to product. Consumers want to know where a product was produced, and often desire ingredients that are sourced locally. While this is important to consumers for environmental reasons (“food miles” is becoming an increasingly prominent issue), there is also a feeling that local produce is fresher, and that heritage and supporting local businesses is important. Furthermore, regions thrive on their own individuality, with manufacturers and food service chains looking to leverage this by creating numerous product varieties based on different regional identities.
Consumers are paying more attention to the ingredients that go into product formulation. However, this extends beyond what the ingredients are, with many also concerned with where they come from. There are myriad reasons why consumers want food and beverages which are locally sourced or themed, including not only heritage ties, but also environmental, ethical, and quality issues.
Products are increasingly using regional differences to create flavor varieties and as a marketing strategy. In Japan, Nestlé has launched 19 different regional varieties of its Kit Kat chocolate bar, with each having a traditional flavor linked to the country. Meanwhile, in the US, Kraft is marketing its Bull’s-Eye BBQ Sauces using four regional “styles” to illustrate differences in taste and strength, and Cargill has joined forces with United Supermarkets to create Genuine Texas Beef.
Foodservice outlets are also eager to leverage location, as local sourcing is a selling point which can help to improve a corporation’s ethical and environmental image. It also creates a less homogenous image: there is a source of differentiation if outlets can offer consumers in one region something that they cannot get in another. In Italy, for example, McDonald’s has initiated a “McItaly” menu to create an effective point of differentiation.
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