Device Orientation

How the food and drink industry is embracing hyper-personalisation

Despite food being one of the most personal things we buy, it’s also traditionally been something very much built for the masses, with the same products and diets being targeted at huge groups of people.

However, a noticeable shift is emerging, with technology paving the way for DNA-based personalised diets and wearable tech that makes nutritional recommendations. All this goes hand in hand with rising demand from consumers, particularly millennials, for products and experiences that are individually tailored to them. According to research by Spoon Guru, 64% of the world’s population now follow some sort of exclusion diet; on average, shoppers have 3.3 dietary preferences.

This trend towards hyper-personalised diets is only set to grow in the future, with Mintel suggesting that, in order to succeed over the next decade, food brands need to ‘offer more personalised product offerings, develop smart home solutions, and assist consumers in addressing mood and brain health’.

We take a look at some of the weird and wonderful ways brands are already tapping into this growing desire for food with a personal twist and what personalised products may be hitting our trollies in the years to come…

Technology is paving the way for DNA-based personalised diets and wearable tech that makes nutritional recommendations

Pints that suit your palette

If you have particular tastes when it comes to your tipple, the good news is that the drinks industry is already making strides in terms of personalisation. D.N.ALE, by Meantime Brewery and genetic testing company 23andMe, is a highly personalised service which involves analysing customers’ DNA and producing customised beers to match their flavour profile. It costs around 30,000 euros for 1200 litres of your unique brew – and you can even get a glass customised to fit your hand.

Personalised pictures

We don’t just want our food to taste personal, we want it to look unique too. Ripple Maker beverage topper devices enable coffee shops and bars to top frothy drinks with customised designs or even trending images from dynamic content feeds. Early adopters of the tech include Guinness, which saw a 20% increase in people trying the stout for the first time when they started using the tech. During trials, some venues saw sales boosted by as much as 52%.

Nutrition-tracking sweat patches

Drinks brand Gatorade has come up with a unique way to help sportspeople get the exact nutrients they need after a training session – wearable sweat patches that track what they’re running low on. The info from the patches is transmitted to an app which then recommends which of Gatorade’s sports drinks the wearer should opt for to help them refuel.

According to research by Spoon Guru, 64% of the world’s population now follow some sort of exclusion diet

3D printed snacks

Food start-up Nourished is making use of 3D printing technology to produce personalised nutritional chewable ‘stacks’ in a matter of minutes. Customers are asked to fill in an online questionnaire about their likes and dislikes, lifestyle and health, and an algorithm uses the information to recommend a combination of nutrients to go into the finished product, which is then printed and delivered. Simple.

Personalised restaurant experiences

Eating out can be a really personal experience – especially if you dine at London’s Vitamojo restaurant. Using the group’s innovative technology, diners can tailor their individual meal right down to the exact quantities of each ingredient. The eatery has also partnered with DNAFit so people can take their genetic make-up into consideration when making their menu choice.  

Supermarket DNA tests

Waitrose has already trialled in-store DNA tests to help people make healthier food and drink choices based on their individual needs. Once they’d been tested, shoppers in the trial used a wearable DNABand to scan items as they shopped, to see if they were a match for their genetic profile. The band would even make alternative suggestions of items that might be healthier, based on the shopper’s DNA.

We can see two strands of personalisation: fun products and nutrition-based products aimed at supporting healthier lifestyles

The future of hyper-personal food and drink

It’s clear that there’s a customer desire for personalised food and drink that brands are trying to fulfil, and it seems this is only set to grow in the coming months and years. Full-on personalisation is always going to come at a cost (3,000-euro beer, anyone?) but we’d expect that in the coming years manufacturers will find a middle-ground of products that are targeted at clearly defined groups of people rather than being developed with mass-market appeal in mind, or where certain elements of products can be tailored in the final stages of production to help keep costs manageable.

There also seem to be two distinct strands of personalisation:

  • ‘for fun’ products and services which cater to our desire to have something unique and interesting
  • nutrition-based products aimed at helping people live healthier lifestyles

While both are currently gaining momentum, we think it’s the latter which has real potential to change people’s lives for the better, that is the more likely to transcend faddishness and stay with us for the long haul.

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