How Americans learn to cook, select recipes, plan their meals, purchase their food and share their culinary secrets with others has dramatically changed, according to a study released by The Hartman Group and Publicis Consultants USA.
“Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture” shows almost half of consumers learn about food via social networking sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, and 40 percent learn about food via websites, apps or blogs. “Consumers used to rely on mom and family traditions for meal planning, but now search online for what to cook, without ever tasting or smelling,” said Laurie Demeritt, president and COO of The Hartman Group. “Digital food selection is less of a sensory experience and more of a visual and rational process: What’s on the label? What’s in the recipe? Show me the picture!”
In the past, whereas consumers listened to the opinions of a few trusted resources – mom and other family members – in deciding what to buy, cook or eat, modern consumers “crowdsource” the opinions of many before deciding what to buy.
What’s more, the infiltration of social media into the food experience goes far beyond purchasing and preparing food; it now includes the meal experience as well. While eating or drinking at home, nearly one-third of Americans use social networking sites. Among Millennials (18-32 years old), this figure jumps to 47 percent.
“The ‘table for one’ rarely exists anymore, even among single people eating alone at home,” Demeritt said. “If you are eating alone, chances are you are also texting friends who live miles away or posting food photos to a review site.”