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Our 2024 trend forecast

About the Author
Sarah is Noble Wests' Vice President of Client Services and Strategy. She empowers clients to navigate the complexities of the modern food landscape.

What kind of self-respecting brand strategist would I be if I didn’t want to throw a few of my own thoughts on the things that will move us, change us and make us better into the ether? What foods will we be focusing on? How can we leverage technology to reach more, or more specifically? What should we stay clear away from? Amid this symphony of prophecies, I’ve got a few thoughts - mostly centered around “the messy middle” (or overlap between) food, marketing, agriculture and our cultural context at large.

Let’s take a look at some things that are making me go, “Hmmmm…”:

The Innovation Cliff in CPG

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this article on the innovation cliff. It overviews how product innovation has taken a nosedive since 2020. While this might seem not surprising and may be a little bit disheartening, I, alongside this article, think this presents a paradoxical opportunity. While some view it as a looming threat, we see it as the best time to launch a brand. Less noise. Less clutter. Less to break through. The scarcity of new launches creates a void, and affluent consumers, hungry for premium experiences, are ready to be wooed. The stage is set for bold entrances and a surge for the right kinds of products telling the right stories. 

Beyond Platitudes:

We’ve been talking about sustainability for a while now. It’s bordering on becoming one of the new words on my list of “words that cost extra” (more on that later). Here’s the reality: the era of greenwashing has eroded trust, demanding that sustainability claims be substantive. Consumers are discerning, seeking brands that don't just talk about being sustainable but demonstrate it with quantifiable ethical sourcing, manufacturing, distribution practices and more. For us, this means that when we talk with our clients about their sustainability practices, we’re going to insist on numbers, metrics and data. This is more than just a “nice to have.” For us, the credibility of these efforts can be best substantiated with the kinds of partners we work with, and we believe it’s imperative we don’t engage broad strokes characterizations. Because if we don’t do it, who will?

AR Takeover

Speaking of being real, augmented reality (AR) isn't just a tech marvel; it's a gateway to larger audiences. Whether it's guiding consumers through the fields, transporting them to a tradeshow to showcase a demo or placing products on the shelf through virtual experiences, AR’s ability to transform marketing can be an even bigger play to educating the public on our food system and bringing people seemingly closer to their food sources. The purse "running" through the streets of Paris is just the beginning. Time to get immersive, interactive and unforgettable.

On being social

We can’t really speak about digital marketing trends without talking about social media. And, while we can stand to spend a little less time on TikTok and Instagram, Sierra (our Social Media Manager) and I have put our heads together on some things to keep in mind going into 2024:

  • Longer Content Reigns: Bite-sized isn't always better. In 2024, longer content takes center stage, allowing for richer storytelling and deeper engagement.

  • Product Placement Over Sponsored Posts: Social media transforms into entertainment. Say goodbye to sponsored posts; welcome "product placement" for seamless brand integrations.

  • No More Virality: The era of viral fame is fading. Smaller influencers with highly dedicated followings reign supreme for more authentic connections.

  • Content Series Over One-Off: Consistency is key. Content series build brand narratives and keep audiences hooked for the long run.

There’s a lot more to talk about on this in particular and Sierra would love to come and chat with your teams on what she’s seeing and how that can help to elevate your social media going into the new year!

Many of you have heard me wax poetic about how quality is a “word that costs extra.” To me, this means that if you have to spend more time and words explaining what that means because essentially everyone uses that term to describe themselves, their process or their product, you’ve got to pick a different word. So, here’s a few more words to consider adding to the list:

  • Innovative

  • Natural

  • Authentic

  • Holistic

I think we all know 2024 is going to be a wild ride - with plenty of unknowns; but hopefully, an equal amount of optimism too. It’s important that all our partners and friends feel set up for success. While we’re not a crystal ball, we do know our stuff, so be on the lookout for us to do a deeper dive into all of the macro trends and then a separate workshop on social media. We hope you’ll join us!