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商业 - 消费品

M&M加入“生日蛋糕味”美食热潮

Erika Fry 2014年04月03日

生日蛋糕味的口香糖、白葡萄酒、夹心饼干……如今的市场上,生日蛋糕味的食品层出不穷,不断涌现。5月份,生日蛋糕味M&M糖也要上市了。可以说,生日蛋糕味的食品热正在不断升温,形成热潮。但业内人士称,一种口味变得无处不在的时候,它风光的日子也就不多了。

    如今,你可以“嚼”蛋糕,因为有生日蛋糕味的口香糖。或者,你也可以喝生日蛋糕味的白葡萄酒。或者在健康的水果奶昔里加生日蛋糕味的蛋白质。

    尽管生日一年就一次,越来越多的公司——其中包括家乐氏(Kellogg's)、玛氏(Mars)、Mondelez和帝亚吉欧(Diageo)),认定消费者全年都会购买生日蛋糕味的产品。

    玛氏的生日蛋糕味M&M糖5月份就正式上市了。Mondelez旗下品牌奥利奥(Oreo)也在出售两种有生日蛋糕味夹心的饼干。还有生日派对蛋糕味Peeps棉花糖和冰激凌蛋糕味Smirnoff伏特加,以及肌肉牛奶蛋白粉和六重矩阵蛋白粉。

    “每天的市场规模就达100万,”NPD Group副总裁兼首席行业分析师亨利•巴泽尔表示,他认为公司把希望寄托在这些可靠的、人们庆祝生日的这部分业务,以及人们喜欢庆祝有特殊意义的时刻。“我们喜欢新体验,我们都是探索者。”

    其他人,像趋势跟踪公司Mintel的创新与洞察力总监林•多恩布拉瑟则表示,更为重要的是在生日之外的那364天与客户建立联系,这些日子消费者也会渴望“生日蛋糕味”的产品或者只是想尝试一下新鲜的东西。

    无论是哪种情况,食品公司都认为,它们已经找到了“甜点”。据多恩布拉瑟称,过去3年进入市场的“生日蛋糕味”产品数量至今已翻了3倍。

    但是,如今很多美国人都倾向于无麸质或有机饮食,为什么这种传统的、过甜的口味依然如此火爆呢?

    市场调查公司Innova Market Insights创新总监卢•安•威廉姆斯解释说,这个市场在不断成长,但仍然非常小。他还表示,蛋糕味“立即产生庆祝的感觉与快乐”。那为什么这种有趣的味道直到现在才走上美国人的餐桌,或者至少直到现在才在食品行业才暂露头角?原因和其他趋势一样有点神秘。

    多恩布拉瑟表示,生日蛋糕味是跟随了时尚味道的典型轨迹——通过不常见的产品类别和小众品牌产品而开始流行,之后被一些主流的食品公司效仿。

    2002年,Mintel首次开始跟踪这些新产品时,大多数生日蛋糕味的产品还都不是食品,而是居家和美容产品,如蜡烛、空气清新剂和润唇膏等。

    10年后,可能是受到最近“纸杯蛋糕热潮”(生日蛋糕也流行红丝绒蛋糕,Pop-Tart饼干提供这两种口味的饼干)的推动,生日蛋糕味的发展势头也得到了提振。它一开始是用在Wells Blue Bunny的冰淇淋上,按照多恩布拉瑟的说法,它很可能是“生日蛋糕味”的突破性产品。生日蛋糕的成功引来了许多“派对蛋糕味”的冷冻新奇产品,之后是烘焙产品、糖果和烈性酒。无论如何,在为即将到来的“生日蛋糕味”M&M糖举行的新品发布会上,玛氏公司称生日蛋糕为“市场上最火的味道”。

    虽然多恩布拉瑟预测这种味道仍然有市场,但她说当一种味道变得越来越普遍,无处不在的时候,它就会逐渐消失。比如,之前当她看到市场上出现低碳水化合物橡皮糖时就知道低碳水化合物热潮已经退却。同样,当生日蛋糕味融入美食的时候,就预示着它的时代即将过去。

    很多食品公司都选择将“生日蛋糕味”的产品作为一种限量版产品推出,并且常常跟公司的大型活动或周年纪念日联系在一起。“生日蛋糕味”的奥利奥最初就是在2012年这个品牌的100周年庆典上推出的。

    短期的产品效应固然会引起轰动,而且也迎合了消费者喜欢尝试新产品和口味的要求,但不大可能会成为一种习惯性的消费。

    多恩布拉瑟表示,虽然“生日蛋糕味”的“保质期”仍还不确定,但目前这种味道证明在女性消费者中尤其受欢迎。

    口香糖和薄荷糖公司Project 7创始人Tyler Merrick已经增加了一些风味产品以跟上潮流,同时希望能在不断下滑的口香糖市场中脱颖而出。今年早些时候,他推出了几个非传统的口味,其中包括薄荷朱利酒味、酸橙椰子味,当然,还有必不可少的生日蛋糕味。(财富中文网)

    Now you can have your cake and chew it too, thanks to birthday cake-flavored gum. Or drink it, with birthday cake batter white wine. Or add a birthday cake-flavored protein to a health shake.

    Though it comes only once a year, an increasing number of food and beverage companies -- Kellogg's (K), Mars, Mondelez (MDLZ), and Diageo (DEO) among them -- are betting customers will buy birthday cake-flavored products year-round.

    Mars' birthday cake M&Ms will officially hit stores in May. Oreo, a Mondelez brand, sells two cookies with a birthday cake-flavored filling. There are also party cake Peeps and iced cake-flavored Smirnoff vodka, and protein powders from Muscle Milk and Syntha-6.

    "Every day there's a market of a million," says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst and vice president at NPD Group, who believes companies are banking on the reliable, people-celebrating-birthdays segment, and the fact that people like to jazz up the occasion with something special. "We like new experiences, we're all explorers."

    Others, like Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at trend-tracking firm Mintel, say it's more about connecting with customers the other 364 days of the year, when they crave the birthday cake flavor or just want to try something new.

    Whatever the case, food companies think they've hit a sweet spot. According to Dornblaser, the number of birthday cake-flavored products introduced to the market in the past three years has tripled. But at a time when many Americans are going gluten-free and organic, why has this classic, overly sugary flavor become so hot?

    Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights, notes the market is growing but still tiny and says the cake flavor brings "an instant feeling of celebration and fun." But why this fun flavor has seized upon American palettes, or at least the food industry's imagination just now, remains, like most trends, a bit of a mystery.

    Dornblaser says birthday cake has followed the typical trajectory of trendy flavors -- rising in popularity through oddball categories and niche brand products before being picked up by major food companies.

    When Mintel first started tracking new products in 2002, most birthday cake items were not foods, but goods used in homecare and beauty, such as candles, air fresheners, and lip gloss.

    Ten years later and possibly helped along by the recent cupcake craze (red velvet is also trending with birthday cake, and both are available as Pop-Tart flavors), birthday cake has gained momentum. It was used in Wells Blue Bunny ice cream, which Dornblaser says was likely the flavor's breakthrough product. Birthday cake's success helped usher in a number of party cake-flavored frozen novelty products, and then baked goods, candy, and spirits. For what it's worth, in a release about the upcoming Birthday M&Ms product launch, Mars Inc. calls birthday cake the "hottest flavor craze on the market."

    Though Dornblaser anticipates the flavor still has legs -- a Greek yogurt product would not surprise her -- she says trending flavors tend to peter out when they become widely, and too wildly used. She knew the low-carb craze was dead when she saw low-carb gummy products on the market and says birthday cake's moment will be over when it gets incorporated into savory foods.

    Many food companies are hedging their bets by introducing birthday cake-flavored items as limited edition offerings that are often tied to a company event or anniversary. Oreo's products were initially launched in 2012 in celebration of the cookie's 100th birthday.

    Short-term products have the benefit of buzz and cater to consumers that like to try new products and flavors twists, but are unlikely to make them a regular habit.

    While the shelf life of birthday cake is still uncertain, for now the flavor is proving popular especially among women, says Dornblaser.

    Tyler Merrick, the founder of Project 7, a gum and mint company that donates to social causes, has added a line of flavored products to jump on the trend and hopes to stand out in a declining gum market. Earlier this year he introduced a handful of non-traditional flavors. Among them: mint julep, coconut lime, and, of course, birthday cake.

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