Sopexa, the global agency for food, beverage and lifestyle marketing, has released its 2015 Foodie Study. They have profiled the preferences, behaviors and epicurean influence of modern foodies in the United States and abroad, unveiling key insights that will have a significant impact on food, beverage and retail marketing, whether it relates to everyday shopping or holiday entertainment.

While the pursuit of great taste remains top of mind for all foodies, they are becoming more demanding and selective, and would rather experiment on their own instead of going to the restaurant. With the aging of millennials, and the digitalization of Gen X, foodies have evolved into housechefs, whose growing decision-making power requires a whole new set of changes in positioning, purchase patterns, and marketing practices.

Foodies are re-owning the kitchen, including cookware and appliances, as they rediscover the pleasure and creativity of home cooking: 75% cook at home several times a week – 93% of those cook daily for themselves and their family as opposed to eating out. They embrace their role and the positive impact they can have on others’ happiness and nutrition.

84% of American foodies cook to express their creativity and are increasingly fond of world cuisines, especially Latin flavors. Top five favorite foods are Italian, Mexican, Spanish, French and Chinese.

Foodies are democratizing gastronomy through their extensive use of social media, which they employ more than 7 times a day to quench their thirst for inspiration and admiration. For seeking ideas and displaying their creativity, foodies unanimously use Facebook (90%) and Instagram (73%), then Pinterest (36%) and Twitter (19%).

Although foodies hunt for new products and recipes online, research shows that they prefer to buy grocery in stores (88%) or directly from local producers (52%). Foodies want to see, touch, smell and feel the product off premise.

“Foodies are no longer food enthusiasts who only know about hot spots. Through our research and analysis, we are seeing that they are more independent, connected and experimental than ever, leveraging their savviness to find, own, and display new products, flavors and cuisines to their online networks,” said Pauline Oudin, Managing Director and Digital Lead, Sopexa USA. “Empowered by technology, they have become housechefs, elevating every day gourmet cooking, with whom brands can engage across the entire purchase funnel,” she added.

Recommendations for Marketers

To best leverage these changes in the way foodies find, pick and endorse products, Benjamin Bourinat, Director of Public Relations and Social Media, Sopexa USA, recommends that marketers and retailers take some of the following steps to ensure that their business is ready to engage with the modern foodies:

Become an integral part of the foodies’ creative process by developing recognition programs in line with their time spent on searching, shopping, cooking, and bragging.

Amplify messages of origin, exoticism, nutrition and self-improvement. As foodies take their individual role seriously, brand preferences will not be swayed by discounts, contests, or games.

Increase the frequency of mobile touch points across Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for visual storytelling and greater brand exposure. Remember foodies are either social voyeurs or social exhibitionists; they rarely partake in online conversations unless they feel they are driving them.

Re-examine your influencer strategy. Attention levels are decreasing as foodies are more educated and acknowledged. Ensure you are getting endorsements that compliment their egos.

Foodies prefer buying in-store than online; provide personalized, sensorial experiences to build a long-lasting emotional connection between foodies and a product or a set of goods necessitated to achieve culinary excellence.

For those looking to increase their online sales; emphasize where the product comes from; how it will taste, smell and feel; and how it will improve the foodie’s wellbeing in order to make up for the lack of physical encounter.

Food operators can increase loyalty by making the eating out experience exclusive, inspiring and sharable so the foodie is inclined to recommend your brand.