January 7, 2016

Eating is about so much more than just the food

Images by Margaret Zhang, instagram.com/margaret__zhang

The way we present our food is what distinguishes us from other animals. Humans are the only species that have gone beyond the nutritional aspect of food to present it in beautiful and sometimes ridiculous exhibition-like visions. Our sense of sight so often trumps our sense of taste, which means that a lot of the time we eat with our eyes rather than our mouths.info5

Generation Y has been dubbed the “foodie generation” and by 2017, millennials will have the power to outspend the baby boomers. They embrace this assigned label – if there’s one thing millennials like to consider themselves, it is foodies.

Millennials’ interaction and attitudes towards food are becoming more noticeable and important, and unlike previous generations, they have the capability to use food as a method of personal storytelling and self-expression. Their appetites are changing the entire culinary landscape; they’re driving the evolvement of restaurants; demanding customized menu items; and craving unique foods and flavour combinations.

This is why paying attention to their attitudes and behaviors towards food is now more important than ever.

Why are we so obsessed with taking photos of what we eat?

Though the contemporary phenomenon of #foodporn may feel like an Internet-era excess, there’s a long history of different cultures taking part in obnoxious public displays of meals.

Whole roasted peacock was considered a delicacy in the Tudor era and was served dressed in its own lustrous, colorful feathers – which had been plucked and then replaced after the bird had been cooked – with its beak gilded in gold leaves.

Whether you were in ancient Rome or a guest at a renaissance banquet in England, you would invariably experience fantastical presentations of foods in large quantities; pigeon consommé, a drawn and quartered boar roasted in blood, deliciously simmered ducklings, and pyramids built of fruits seasoned with some milk and bone marrow.

These dishes were meticulously depicted along with their decorations and table settings in mass-produced prints, books, and in more sophisticated paintings – this was one of the main reasons of going through all the presentation efforts in the first place! Eating food was but a delightful fleeting moment; consuming it with your eyes could last forever. Ultimately, meat mountains, massive centrepieces of sugar moulded into swans, and the marzipan castles that graced aristocratic tables through the centuries may have pleased the palate, but they were primarily intended as feasts for the eyes.

Perhaps intense Pinterest planning and meticulous photo filtering of Christmas lunches aren’t a corruption of the ages old communal joys of eating— rather, it may be a natural extension of it.

Using the past to move forward

Technology and social media have completely revolutionized our relationship with food, from both a producer and consumer perspective.

With new digital and social media platforms available, food is being embraced as a tool of expression. It can bring friends and families together, it can connect strangers and create shared memories, at the same time as it can also make political or environmental statements, or display wealth. A range of social media platforms allows anyone to instantly snap pictures of their organic savory plates, follow their favorite food blogs, and check in at the trendiest restaurant. This means that whatever gains traction, will quickly spread over social media like wildfire and then be accepted into the mainstream.

Foodies have enormous digital influence and can help take products from obscurity to overnight success.


With unique, tasty desserts like the churro ice cream sandwich in L.A. or the milkshakes called “The Freakshow” in Canberra, it is apparent that millennials are willing to line up for hours to try these exclusive treats and share the fact that they did so.

The food photography trend has given food businesses free marketing in the form of foodie customers. Such is the power of social media.

Patissez / Facebook / Via Facebook: patissez.pty.ltd

It is widely understood that in the digital world of today, businesses need to have an online presence to stay relevant. The smart players don’t just use digital channels as a reference point for customers, but also as an integral part of their business success.

Consumers are becoming more demanding and more selective. Merely a presence is no longer enough; you need to create and distribute articles, short posts, lists and video clips. And then, to be truly successful, you need to go one step further and engage people. Great examples of this are how Food & Wine Magazine introduced their Cappuccino Cam, taking viewers behind the scenes for a look at baristas showing off their skills, and their FWxLabs where editors take requests for food experiments.

By interacting with your audience and asking what they want and then responding to that, you and your business will be on the highway to success. But with millennials and their growing decision-making power on their way to outspending earlier generations, your business requires a whole new set of changes in positioning, purchase patterns, and marketing practices.

And that’s where Surf Pacific comes into your picture. We not only master the current practices but we explore new trends and create opportunities for our clients to form their own trends. Contact us to discuss where you are, or should be, headed next.