digital food and beverage digital marketing trends

What’s New in Food: Four Digital Trends in the Food and Beverage Industry


True or false? Whether it was your weekly grocery list or a large pizza for the game on Sunday, you ordered food online at least once within the last week. 

If you answered true, you’re not alone.

The food and beverage industry, like many industries, is quickly turning to digital solutions to reach consumers with online ordering, customer service, marketing strategies and more. According to Digimind, the industry’s e-commerce revenue totaled $18.7 billion during 2020 alone, and that number is expected to increase to $25.7 billion by 2025.

With stay-at-home living expected to continue in the future, and online narratives evolving around societal care, health and well-being spurred by the pandemic, food and beverage brands must adapt their digital marketing to stay relevant and meet the needs of their customers.

Recently, Hart President Marc Paulenich shared expert insight on this topic during CIFT Innovation's Food Entrepreneur Boot Camp. Check out these four emerging industry trends and Hart’s recommendations to help guide your strategy.

1. Online Food Ordering

With shutdowns and mandates sweeping the nation causing a rapid uptick in home-centered living, it’s no surprise consumers turned to online food ordering and delivery options in 2020-2021 like never before -- and this trend shows no sign of slowing down. The global online food delivery service market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 10.3%, as consumers continue to demand instant access to meals and groceries. A study by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) reveals that 24% of Gen Zers and 21% of millennials order takeout three to four times per week.

Hart’s Recommendation: Meet your audience where they are. Integrate your website, social media and digital ordering applications to create a seamless consumer experience in this “see now, buy now” economy.


2. Demand for Healthy, Sustainable and Accessible 

Consumers want transparent and digitally accessible information from brands around their efforts to ensure healthy, sustainable and ethically sourced products. During a time when the overall health of the country was tested and access to normal household products and foods was hindered, people took to social media demanding transparency from food brands. Conversations surrounding the category of “food and health” skyrocketed to 20 million mentions across all digital platforms. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) found that 25% of consumers say knowing where their food comes from is very important to them, and more than 55% of 15-44 year olds say they, “Extensively research the products and services they use and consume.” 

Hart’s Recommendation: Adopt sustainable and ethical practices. Share open and transparent communications on your website and social media platforms about nutritional facts and how your products are sourced, packaged, etc. It’s important to your customers.


3. Eating Local

A major emphasis on shopping, eating and supporting local brands emerged across digital platforms during COVID-19 and it is expected to continue. You likely saw “buy local” signage and hashtags plastered across the internet and hanging in restaurant windows, as communities rallied together to support their beloved local establishments. According to Digimind, “buy local” was the seventh top trending conversation across digital platforms in 2021. And Forbes reported that 35% of consumers are buying more local foods than before the pandemic. 

Hart’s Recommendation: Tap into your local community for brand advocacy and influencer partnerships. Local micro-influencers are a low-cost way to build brand awareness within your community and beyond.


4. Combatting Cooking Fatigue

The rapid increase of at-home cooking, baking and meal preparation during the pandemic has led to widespread cooking fatigue across the country. The annual Hartman Report shows that 26% of all dinners in 2020 involved heavy preparation, up 3% versus 2019. As a result, brands are getting creative and pivoting strategies to share simple recipes and easy-to-prepare meal kits online, with six in 10 restaurant operators saying they will continue to offer online take-and-bake options post-pandemic.

Hart’s Recommendation: Share digital content around fast, easy recipes and snack options for those experiencing cooking fatigue. Cross-channel user-generated content (UGC) integrations will show how your audience is using recipes and engaging with your brand overall.

While keeping up with current industry trends may seem costly and time-consuming, rest assured, you don’t need a massive budget to create an effective digital marketing strategy.

Whether you’ve already got a strategy and would like us to review it with you, or are are looking for help building one from the ground up, let’s talk!