Refocus on the real

23rd November

At the Barbican’s most recent installation, Rain Room, visitors immerse themselves in a torrential downpour and remain completely dry. The technology underpinning the experience involves ‘printing’ water into a space in which every inch is monitored by 3D depth cameras. When our presence is sensed, the rain appears to be repelled by us.  Rain Room is part evidence for a much wider trend; the growing desire for heightened sensory experiences. It stems from a rejection of our ‘always on’ lifestyles; we have started to unplug, log out and show greater appreciation for what’s real.

Related to this, the demand for exotic flavours in food and drink is set for continued growth over the next 3 years. Globally, 42% of consumers are more interested in trying new flavours they have never had before (Technomic’s 2011 ‘Consumer Flavour Trend’ Report). Responding to the shift, Nestlé have launched the Agua Fresca range, bringing flavours that were previously culture-specific to the mainstream, such as Mexican Horchata and Tamarind.

When Jelly Belly launched Chilli and Mango flavoured beans, they were met with rapture from writers of DIY foodie blog Chow: ‘A single bean takes you on a veritable LSD trip as you place it on your tongue. Indian, Thai and Latin American flavours swirl in your head as the sweet juice battles the peppery heat while your brain attempts to make sense out of it all.’

A recent trip to Fortnum and Mason confirmed that this shift isn’t just relevant for the young and trendy – luxury retailers are getting in on the action too: their hot sauce display was overpowered by these intense little numbers…

Communicating purity, potency and intensity of flavour is likely to become more important on pack in the coming months and years for food and drinks products. The challenge is to execute this stylishly, without creating a riotous sensory overload before we’ve even had a taste.

By Jenny Winfield, creative planner, jkr.

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