Dear Food Companies...
Updated: Sep 12, 2022
By Francesca Zampollo Ph.D.
Dear Food Companies, simply put, you design food, but a food designer designs for the food experience. You’re concerned with flavor, sometimes with shape, and let’s be honest, that’s it. And that’s understandable, because you don’t have a designer working with your food scientists and food technologists and marketing people.
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But if you are interested in radical innovation, then you should really add a food designer to your team!
You come up with a new flavor for nachos, a food designer comes up with Spoonachos.
You design pizza, a food designer designs the Cono Pizza.
You design a pizza box, a food designer designs The Green Box.
You design a bottle of water, a food designer designs ooho.
You design a chocolate rectangle, a food designer designs an interactive sharable chocolate.
You design an ice cream cone, a food designer designs a cone that collects the drops of ice cream and puts them back into the cone.
You design salt, a food designer designs salt made from tears of laughter.
You design coffee biscuits, food designers design the cookie cup.
I could go on but I feel like I’ve made my point…
You spend a lot of money in marketing research. You ask people if they prefer the squared packaging or the round packaging. You ask them what flavor they want, and if they prefer it to taste more spicy or less salty, more lemony or less garlicky. And that’s great, that’s awesome. But you often ignore that products are part of a context, and designing for people means designing a message and its appropriate language.
Let me explain to you what I mean: According to Professor Roberto Verganti, every product proposes an either incremental or radical change in technology. Every product also proposes an either incremental or radical change in meaning. What a food designer, well, a good food designer, can do for you is help you achieve a product that proposes both a radical change in technology and a radical change in meaning. How? A food designer has the tools to conduct the appropriate investigations on your product context and its target user. This type of research is essential for the development of any food product, and a food designer is able to directly apply the results from this research to the food and its packaging interaction with the five senses (how the food tastes, how it looks, the sound the packaging makes, etc.). A food designer is then able to source the best technology, often from places you wouldn’t even have looked at, and use it for solutions with a strong message; this means products that say something to people, products that mean something to people, products to which people relate and to which they become emotionally attached. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that an emotional attachment to a product is often translated into an emotional attachment to the brand!
How do they do that? Because food designers, again, good food designers, know how to communicate a message with the appropriate language! They know how to make the product look and feel and sound and smell and taste (we call this the product’s language), so that it clearly sends that message.
In addition, a food designer is able to propose solutions that, besides being innovative in what they mean and in their use of technology, are also able to produce solutions that are aesthetically pleasing, simple, understandable, economically viable, and finally, environmentally friendly. And don’t we all want that?
The good news is that today there are more and more food designers out there because there are a few institutions who are training food designers! And believe me, because many young food designers contact me asking what they should do to start working in the industry! And I’m tired of telling them, “Be patient because the food industry, unfortunately, is not ready for you yet.” They have no idea of what a food designer is and what you can do!” Be ready, food industry! I’m sure you need someone who can give you consistency in high-quality propositions. You need food designers, and there’s plenty out there.
So, dear food companies, since I’m sure that in your list of goals there are better products and more sales, my suggestion to you is hire a food designer!
Happy Food Design!