An unexpected flavor

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Eager to make customers discover the most sublime richness of their ground coffee, Malongo coffee has conceived pairings of coffee/cheese inspired by known pairings of food/wines. We should have thought of that! Finally, the tastiest French cheeses such as roquefort, chevre, camembert, coming from all corners of France, actually have a reason to stay left out on the table until coffee time.

Elsewhere in the Bordeaux region, the famous brand of champagne Krug has also started to develop their gustative “experience”, a subtly wacky initiative named “Krug and Potato”. Such a random combination, as if a group of peasant farmers took a wrong turn and found themselves in a château… The initiative consisted of highlighting the flavors and the aromas of its famous Grande Cuvée champagne, coupled with the various preparations of potato dishes driven by the inspiration of well-known chef participants. It’s a way for a brand to show off its anticonformist spirit.

According to the Maison du Chocolat, they now offer the possibility of integrating vegetables into their chocolates, as a way of enhancing the salty flavor of the chocolate. The fullness of a pepper, the flavor profile of a cep mushroom, the sweet-and-sour nature of an onion, and the exquisite Espelette pepper: they all bring the chocolate bars a special and unexpected kick and according to the brand, “create moments of freedom where nothing ever is too much”.

So there you have it, the time has come for increasing incongruous associations. In the press, on social media, and around dining tables. But also enlarging its territory of consumption because products are often ‘trapped’ in their ways, the social conventions that surround them, and even the stereotypes that may put them in a box. Here, the pursued goal is not to prize the consumption of their product related to rare moments or luxury ingredients, but for consumers to associate it with reputable “ordinary” products. Veggies for Maison du Chocolat, potatoes for Krug champagne (even recipes “designed” by real chefs) or even everyday cheeses for Malongo.

Nowadays, to affirm one’s position in the gastronomic category is not only in the hope of “raising up” its product, but, more simply, to place it horizontally to something else to orient customers towards a familiar universe. The more territory is familiar and seems popular, the more amazement there will be.

A new universe of innovation is now at play.

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Un parfum d’inattendu

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Désireux d’affirmer leur envie de faire découvrir toutes les richesses de leur univers, les cafés Malongo ont imaginé des accords café/fromage inspirés des accords mets/vins. Il fallait y penser. C’est ainsi que roqueforts, chèvres, fromages des Pyrénées ou basques et même camemberts et maroilles ont appris à rester à table jusqu’au café.

Dans la région bordelaise, la célèbre marque de champagne Krug avait, elle aussi, mis au point sa petite « expérience » subtilement décalée et dénommée « Krug and Potatoe ». Un peu comme si les paysans se mettaient à prendre goût à la vie de château… L’opération consistait à révéler les saveurs et les arômes de sa Grande Cuvée à travers une déclinaison de pommes de terre conduite par l’inspiration de différents grands chefs participants. Une façon pour la marque d’illustrer son esprit anti-conformiste.

Quant à la Maison du Chocolat, elle propose désormais des rencontres avec des légumes, manière d’explorer la face salée du chocolat. La rondeur d’un poivron, le caractère d’un cèpe, un oignon aigre-doux, un piment d’Espelette viennent ainsi donner une note inattendue au chocolat et « ouvrir des instants de liberté où rien n’est jamais de trop » selon les dires de la marque.

Voilà venu le temps des associations incongrues. Pour faire parler de soi, bien sûr. Dans la presse, sur les réseaux sociaux et autour des tables. Mais aussi pour élargir son territoire de consommation car les produits sont souvent enclavés dans des habitudes, des conventions sociales, voire des stéréotypes. Ici, l’ambition poursuivie n’est pas d’anoblir la consommation de son produit en le poussant vers des moments rares ou des ingrédients de luxe, mais de l’associer à des produits réputés « ordinaires ». Légumes pour la Maison du Chocolat, pommes de terre chez Krug (même « digérées » par des chefs) ou encore fromages de tous les jours pour Malongo.

Aujourd’hui, affirmer son appartenance à un registre gastronomique, ce n’est pas toujours chercher à faire « monter » son produit, mais, plus simplement, à le déplacer horizontalement pour le diriger vers des univers familiers. Plus ce territoire est familier et semble populaire, plus grand sera l’étonnement.

Une nouvelle géographie de l’innovation est a l’oeuvre.

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Retro food

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Those who remember this have to be at least in their thirties: Before Mars named its famous twin chocolate bar Twix, it was sold in mainland Europe under the name Raider, with the slogan “Deux doigts coupe faim”, translated literally in English to «Two fingers cut hunger». At that time, the dictums for eating well were not paraded nearly as much, and only the immediate act of eating and its pleasure was considered… Twenty-five years after the change was met with outcries from loyal fans, Mars announced the resurrection of Raider bars in the Netherlands and in northern Belgium, as a limited edition series and with packaging from the original time period… Great news for European adults nostalgic for their childhood to return, in a time when floppy disks, audio cassettes and VHS, Banga juice, Treets (now known as M&Ms), and transistor radios reigned supreme.

Since vintage is in fashion, there is no reason for marketing to run away from it. In the same field, we saw a similar situation about a year ago: Burger King and its famous Whooper… Playing into those cherished moments of nostalgia is not a bad idea for brands. It is a way for them to write themselves into the overall history of consumption as well as the smaller personal stories. It presents a form of legitimacy and a proof of proximity to the customer, since personal memories are often linked to consumption moments.

When a brand re-releases one of its old products it’s obvious that they are addressing a specific targeted audience, without having to spend a lot to communicate their message. Very clever. Perhaps even a bit unnecessary for Twix to re-release old commercials, when everyone still has the jingle in their heads. This just goes to show the power of the commercial in traditional media, faced with social media pumped with brand content… Commercial spots have a lasting impact, whereas even the most buzzworthy social media brand campaigns eventually disappear. Who could forget “Heyyy Kool-Aid!” or “The best part of waking up, is Folgers in your cup”? The associated images and sounds are more powerful than the ideas themselves…

This week we also learned that after a 13-year hiatus, Mulder and Scully are rekindling their X-Files roles for 6 episodes, starting next January 24, which seriously makes us question whether there’s also a return of MacGyver in the works… When can we expect retro primetime TV with commercials from the past?

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The quest for perfection.

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We can’t even count the number of times we’ve seen chefs around France boast on their menus “l’œuf parfait” (the “perfect egg”), but the word is out. The “perfect egg” is cooked at a low temperature, at around 65°C (150°F), which makes it more tender and creamier than a hard-boiled egg, yet firmer than a soft-boiled egg. Its whites are wobbly and silky, and its yolk is runny and creamy. A huge plus for restaurateurs: this ‘recipe’ is extremely economical and when accompanied correctly, it can make use of numerous ingredients. The profit margin is always assured without renouncing creativity. Which is can often be a challenge.

Elsewhere, the “Grill Academy” (created by Weber) has promised that students in their BBQ grilling courses will learn how to master the “perfect grilling”. Two levels are offered: Beginner or Expert. Without a doubt, grilling is serious business, and subscribers to grilling magazines (Beef for example) would not dare say the contrary.The quest for “perfection” must not limit itself to just food: people who casually browse fashion sites will inevitably stumble upon advice on how to acquire the “perfect” sweater, Chinos, travel bag, etc.

However the keenest observers can’t help but notice that many of these “perfection” messages are targeted primarily towards men. It doesn’t happen that way by accident. First of all, because men often have an “engineer’s eye” for products that are offered to them. How is it made? In what conditions? Which what type of machine? Is it possible to improve its performance? The “perfect” anything puts an end to all this type of questioning. Second, because men see consumption as an act that is not really essential, synonymous with useless and wasted time, and altogether an act driven by superficiality. When the prospect of ‘perfection’ is dangled in front of the consumer, the product they end up buying is rational and logical, and therefore is worth taking a closer look.

The perfect object (here, we don’t dare just talk about a “product“) is sustainable. It will cross time periods, take on a noble status, mature with age, and one day will even be passed down. Therefore in a completely different category than the ‘trendy’ concepts that seem flashy and enticing, yet turn out to be short-lived and passing. The perfect product is shielded from the competition. It reigns in the market as the absolute reference model. It makes the consumer who acquires it look better, and in turn the brand that produces it gains a form of nobility. Hence why there is a temptation to give this noble status to all their products. Even if it means they embellish its origins…

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