Posts Tagged food

Eat red meat

A leadership event in New Zealand has been seen the development and launch of a go-to-market strategy for Beef + Lamb New Zealand, following on from a nine-month long research project conducted by antedote.

An alternate protein may seem futuristic, but it isn’t for Beef + Lamb New Zealand who have been working with antedote to develop insights that will enable strategic planning to future-proof their beef and lamb industry.

As a response to a nine-month-long research project, Founding Partner Anne Lacey was invited by Beef + Lamb New Zealand to present on disruptive trends and what it means for the industry during the organizations most recent sector leadership event “Our origin brand, story and go-to-market strategy”, held in Auckland, New Zealand.

The New Zealand sheep and beef industry exports to over 120 countries around the world and employs around 80,000 people. It is New Zealand’s largest manufacturing sector.

“The health and wellbeing of our sector is incredibly important to our country and our regional communities where our footprint is the largest” said Nick Beeby, General Manager, Market Development for Beef + Lamb New Zealand.

“Beef + Lamb New Zealand engaged antedote to look into the future so we could understand the forces and consumer trends which were taking people towards alternative proteins, and to develop scenarios so our sector could plan in a way which means we remain relevant to consumers in the future.” Said Nick.

Anne said the weeklong leadership event provided a valuable opportunity to create dialogue among stakeholders.

“This has been an invaluable exercise in engaging in dialogue and kicking off the strategic planning with the entire value chain – from government policy makers, industry leaders and the CEO’s of the top meat companies to the farmers from around the country – it has been an honor to be part of this project.” Said Anne.

The leadership event was an outcome of a nine-month project, which saw antedote conduct a global study into the red meat market.


“We analyzed over 400 reports, articles, interviews, videos and other content – we read everything we could get our hands on, and there was a lot.” Said Anne.

“Primary research was conducted; interviews with leaders in industry and government, big-food, big-meat, academics, retailers, food scientists, CEO’s, CFO’s, Chef Scientists, Nutritionists, Medical professionals, health and wellness experts, CMO’s – again basically a range of people across the supply and value chain.

“We did this to gain an in-depth understanding of the red meat sector, alternative proteins and how the government, medical industry, consumers, market and culture was reacting today and expected to respond in the future.” Said Anne.

Consumer behavioral research also played an important role in the project, with antedote conducting digital and face-to-face research in China and the US to unpack consumer behaviors, beliefs, needs and frustrations around food, red meat, alternative proteins and eating in the 21st Century.

“The result of all this research and analysis was to identify the forces of disruption, build a picture of what the world might look like in the future and design potential strategic responses for the New Zealand Beef and Lamb industry.

The response to the project undertaken by Beef + Lamb New Zealand with antedote has been well recognized and received in New Zealand. Nick Beeby commented, “Anne and her team have been very accommodating and have provided us great insight into the project.”

“The findings show that for every great challenge, there is also great opportunity, but we do need to be reminded that what we do today, does not ensure our success in the future. We need to evolve and innovate.” Says Nick.

“Spending this time with the CEO’s and Farmers of the Beef and Lamb NZ industry, as well as government and industry leaders has been a privilege. It is inspiring to see NZ Beef and Lamb take a strong leadership position in preparing for the future and get ahead of any potential disruption – myself and the entire antedote team are excited to see what happens next” said, Anne.

For more information about the Beef + Lamb New Zealand project, please drop us a line

The Value of Kindness

In these turbulent and uncertain times, a little kindness goes a long way to creating brand value.

For disenchanted and disenfranchised millennials, and those who share millennial values, an act of kindness has never been more gratefully received. If brands want to create empathy and connection they would do well by looking at how they can show random acts of kindness to lift the mood right now.

Campden Desk Beer dropped at We Work the day after Brexit.

Campden Desk Beer dropped at We Work the day after Brexit.

This is especially true for brands in categories where ‘mood enhancement’ and ‘affiliation’ are motivations they want to own, so when Camden Town Breweries desk dropped beer samples at We Work Southbank, the Friday after a Brexit which had left We Workers shocked into silence, feeling awkward, confused and embarrassed; there were smiles all round.

But it can be bigger than that. When there is an apparent lack of viable trusted leadership and honesty in politics, to be a leader yourself, who shows compassion, is transparent and essentially acts in a way to build a better feeling world, you can also create a way to differentiate and create life-long loyal fans. Boutique brands in artisan food and drink categories such as Camden Town Breweries and Vinomofo have successfully driven this trend until now. One brand KIND, actually stand for acts of kindness. Their manifesto states ‘Our aim is to make the world a little kinder, one snack and act at a time. One simple belief underpins it all: There’s more to business than just profit’. Now doesn’t that make you want to purchase a second delicious snack?

It is worth highlighting that the sharing economy we live in today values genuine acts, and a focus on others – rather than introspective analysis of internal balance sheets. Brands that get this will win and establish a strong platform to nurture in the long term.

Perhaps goodness or kindness should be a tracked value. Brands that display a genuine interest in being better global citizens, in relation to becoming more financially valuable could benefit from a virtuous circle of ‘betterment’. As we explored in our previous article Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, creating consumer habits drives higher customer lifetime value, allows for flexibility for companies to increase prices, and supercharges growth. If we can make a simple gesture of thought and kindness a habit, we will generate goodwill with customers and create value.

In the meantime, We Work enjoyed the Camden Town Breweries beer drop, and no doubt the brand will stay front of mind next time there is cause to visit the bottle shop.

Pour Over Coffee You Brew In The Bag!


This Trader Joe’s new pour over coffee that you can brew straight in the bag caught our eye! This fun, innovative, and reusable packaging design is great for when you want coffee on the go (camping, etc.). The company behind the clever packaging concept is Grower’s Cup who provide tea, coffee, and specialty kits (like Irish coffee) in the same innovative style. We love this new way to enjoy the morning cup of joe and will be on the look out for more unique ways to kickstart your busy day.

trader joes coffee innovative

Trader Joes Coffee Innovative Bag


Drinkable Aromas

organic aromas

Kille Enna, a renowned Danish chef, has developed an innovative line of 7 aromas that you can spray into your glass of water, from “Green Cardamom/Lavender Flowers” to “Liquorice Root from Uzbekistan”. Enna talks about her inspiration to create a scent you can taste in her interview with Munchies:

One day, while I was cleaning out my attic, one title among the piles of cookbooks and old food magazines caught my eye: Perfume. I have no idea who gave me this book, but my passion for complex taste composition and scent led me to open the book. As I began to read it, I didn’t stop for days. Every night, the book swept me away to places like Paris as the main character, Jean-Baptiste Grenouille—who is ostensibly stalking and murdering young virgins—is on a hunt for the perfect scent. For me, the captivation of the novel was about the sadness of a man lacking his own personal scent and the allure of the question it formulated: How do you capture a scent of that which you love? I recognized my own desire to answer that question, but my history in the culinary arts prevented me from separating olfaction from gustation; scent from taste. So my desire was for more than the creation of yet another perfume. It had to be the taste of a scent.

What do you think of drinkable aromas? What aromas would you want to drink or not drink?

Does texture impact taste? Nendo Chocolate Explores.

Chocolate Textures- Taste
Japanese Design House Nendo created the innovative chocolatetexture last year, which was a collection of nine different types of chocolate made in various shapes and textures- from smooth and rough exteriors to hollow interiors. The idea they were exploring was how shape and texture impact taste.

“…there are many factors that determine the taste of a piece of chocolate. These factors include what country the cocoa comes from, the kind of cocoa, the percentage content, the flavors inside, and the technique of the chocolatier. However, in their new chocolate concept, Nendo decided to put the focus on a different factor: the shape of the chocolate.”

The names of the nine different shapes were inspired by its onomatopoeic word from the Japanese language. You can imagine how biting in the airy “fuwa-fuwa” would bring about a different experience then biting into the spiky “toge-toge” (see below photo).

1. “tubu-tubu” Chunks of smaller chocolate drops.
2. “sube-sube” Smooth edges and corners.
3. “zara-zara” Granular like a file.
4. “toge-toge” Sharp pointed tips.
5. “goro-goro” Fourteen connected small cubes.
6. “fuwa-fuwa” Soft and airy with many tiny holes.
7. “poki-poki” A cube frame made of chocolate sticks.
8. “suka-suka” A hollow cube with thin walls.
9. “zaku-zaku” Alternately placed thin chocolate rods forming a cube.

innovative chocolate names

This year, they continued their explorations and recently released chocolatetexturebar, which is a chocolate bar divided into 12 very unique patterns. The idea is that the consumer gets to experience a new taste dimension based off the distinct textures of each piece.

“The design of the bar caters to the different parts of the tasting experience, nendo explains. These include the stage of “bite,” “roll in mouth,” and “swallow,” By including different textures, the bar addresses each stage of this process for a heightened experience.”

These chocolatey perfections are also available in milk, strawberry, white, bitter, and matcha. We look forward to more of nendo’s sensory explorations.

chocolate texture bar

innovative chocolate bar 1

Innovative chocolate bar

innovative chocolate bar

The Future of Food with Tyler Florence: 3 Innovation Implications

Future of Food with Tyler Florence

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Future of Food—a salon hosted by Restauranteur Tyler Florence, and part of the great Inforum Series put on by the San Francisco Commonwealth Club It was a great salon session, that brought together the likes of:

Megan Miller, Co-Founder, Bitty Foods (alternative protein sources)
Adam Zbar, CEO, Sun Basket (alternative food choices and distribution channels)
Dr. Lauren Shimek, Food Scientist, IDEO (food scientist)
Douglas Gayeton (architect of local food systems)
Janet Hayes, President, Williams-Sonoma (gourmet food and kitchen essentials retailer)

As the topic was the Future of Food, you can imagine that there was a lot of interesting conversation around sustainability, business models, and trends.

However, the key takeaway from all of it was:

At no other time in history have we asked the consumer to not only know so much about their food, but to educate themselves.

This has three big innovation implications:

The role of sustainability

Sustainability was a hot topic through out the conversation. And considering the fact that the US wastes 40% of its available food supply ($165 billion dollars worth of food), and we use 2500 gal of water for every pound of beef we grow, you can see why. While many companies may be doing something to help promote sustainability it’s either unnoticed or not enough (see the petition vs. Nestle).

This begs the question—what role does sustainability have in the future of labeling and claims? Could it be the new organic/natural?

Consumer education in food

Because consumers are asked to take such a big role in educating themselves on food, (Douglas Gayeton had a great anecdote about a young student who couldn’t recognize what an organic carrot looks like out of the ground) it’s created a lot of consumer needs.

  1. Adam Zbar claims much of the success of Sun Basket (ingredient delivery, much like Blue Apron) to the fact that people just don’t know HOW to cook a great meal, not just the fact that they’re time crunched.
  2. Janet Hayes made a great point that the big opportunity that grocers keep missing has nothing to do with product, but service. Having some mechanism to help people actually know what to do with everything they’re buying (another big factor in food waste).
  3. Lauren Shimek discussed the potential implications of smart packaging—a simple concept where your packaging would help inform you of when food is about to go bad.

All of this leads us to one big opportunity—how do we get not just more information into the hands of consumers, but useful information in the hands of consumers?  If they can’t do anything practical with what you’re telling them, it doesn’t matter.

More solutions, not more things

The future of food doesn’t necessarily need more “things”, it needs more solutions. The forum talked a lot about the great new innovations in food—however none of them were necessarily new products, but creative/scrappy solutions to challenges facing the industry, a couple of good examples.

  1. Megan Miller (one of the speakers) created Bitty Foods in response to the need for a more sustainable protein source (again…2500 gal of water for a pound of beef, 250 gal for a pound of soy, but only 1 gal for a pound of cricket protein). While the thought of cricket flour might seem off putting at first, Tyler Florence made a point that in the foreseeable future beef will be a luxury item (we’re already seeing the rise of the $60 fillet in restaurants)
  2. Beelocal is a company that everyone seemed to love. It’s a sustainable honey company that plants and maintains beehives on the rooftops of ordinary houses and businesses in the community. In return the house gets free honey, and Bee Local creates a sustainable colony.
  3. Alternate (to restaurants) food options like meal delivery, CSAs, and of course food trucks have created a new business model that, as the cost of starting a restaurant becomes more prohibitive, keep us flush with great food. And, beyond that, they also solve a real need in sustainability by creating easier avenues to connect smaller farms with consumers.
  4. Tyler and co also sang the praises of Ben Jacobsen, founder of Jacobsen Salt Company in Portland. Self-taught salt maker Jacobsen started his company in harvesting salt by collecting sea water in buckets, and literally built an empire by hand. Jacobsen Salt Company is sustainable, and a great alternative to the salt from overseas, notablyvbeing the first to harvest salt in the Northwest of USA since Lewis and Clark.

So, as we think about the future of food, we have to ask ourselves—what are the big needs that are starting to arise in the creation, distribution, and consumption of food, and what are the creative ways that we can create real solutions?

A sweet scoop on innovation

Innovative ice cream - Smitten

As a child, I wasn’t allowed to eat ice cream until I was six because I had a history of asthma, and ice cream was on the no-no food list. I am convinced this had a direct impact on my now slightly obsessive relationship with ice cream. When I moved to SF last year, I was overjoyed to find that it was not only me, but the whole city who embraced gourmet ice cream with open arms.

One of the most buzzed about ice cream spots in town is Smitten. I remember the first time I was there, I stood outside the outdoor shed-like store in Hayes Valley, with the incredibly long queue of eager customers looking on with delight as the ice cream counter emitted whimsical puffs of nitrogen vapor as their orders were prepared fresh before their eyes.

Innovative Smitten Ice Cream Store in Hayes

I later learned the inspiring story behind Smitten’s success, one that warms my own heart.  Before Robyn Sue Fisher founded Smitten, she was known as the “ice cream girl” during her time at Stanford Business School.  After graduation, she applied to two jobs: IDEO and the FBI. When IDEO rejected her, she had the choice of either working for the FBI, or making her ice cream dream a reality. Smitten now serves 17,000 happy customers a month.

You would think that ice cream is a relatively simple business to start and run, but Robyn was determined to perfect ice cream through experimenting, iterating, and piloting her ideas quickly.

As she describes her journey, she identified two consumer needs that weren’t being addressed by ice cream makers on the market:

1) Natural and fresh ice cream. The distribution chain ice cream makes it very difficult to keep the products fresh.

2) A true ‘creaminess’ that prior to Smitten, was not on the market yet.

Robyn got “nerdy” about the science of ice cream, and dedicated herself to creating the perfectly smooth consistency of her dream ice cream. This “nerdiness” led to a series of experiments with liquid nitrogen to minimize the size of ice crystals in the ice cream. Starting with a liquid nitrogen machine in her backyard, she then spent the next 2 years in a basement with an engineer partner to keep iterating and perfecting the technology, and then testing the flavors by selling ice cream on streets across San Francisco for 9 months.

When the queues for Smitten ice cream seemed to go on and on, she opened her first store in Hayes Valley out of a repurposed warehouse container, which has now become a much beloved ice cream icon in the city.

So what does Robyn’s Smitten story teach us about innovation?

1. Try quickly, fail quickly, learn, and try again
Many companies get stuck at the innovation process because of fear – fear that the idea is not perfect to launch before you give it a chance to live on. When you try to perfect an idea before you put it in front of consumers, you will have invested too much, too soon, for it to fail. The key to successful innovation is to create small-scale experiments which minimize risk and can be piloted quickly, get real time feedback, then improve and try again, as what Robyn did when she sold batches on the streets of San Francisco. This iterative process actually accelerates innovation success as you build on live feedback and push the idea through.

2. Know your consumers, and deliver beyond their current needs
One of the keys to Smitten’s success was the insistence on breaking from current products in the market. Instead of creating another product that’s incrementally new, Robyn insisted on a whole new approach to ice cream – pushing the science, and offering consumers a completely fresh experience to see their ice cream being created before their own eyes, using only the highest quality ingredients.

3. Lean on passion to push through when the going gets tough
Innovation is a long and difficult journey. For Robyn, it wasn’t until year four before she had any sort of business success, and if it wasn’t for her personal passion for ice cream, Smitten might not be what it is today. For innovation to succeed, there needs to be passion behind the project to push and champion it through when you are met with naysayers and stage gate hurdles. Going after the ideas your team has personal passion for can make the difference between a good idea on a piece of paper, and a real innovation that gets launched.

Smitten’s story is truly inspiring for the innovator in all of us. We look forward to interacting with adventurous innovations sooner, and companies approaching innovation with a truly experimental and iterative mindset.

To learn about antedote’s new platform, Idea Accelerator, that allows you to explore and iterate concepts, packaging designs and communications with consumers globally and in real time, please click below:

Learn more

Image credit: Wired’s The Blue Bottle of Ice Cream
Image credit: flickr user drbrett (cc)
Image credit: flickr user rotron (cc)

Kusakabe – Innovation in Sushi

sushi innovation at kusakabe

sushi innovation kusakabe

When is comes to innovation we can learn a lot from chefs who create restaurants and menus that push our concept and relationship with food.

One such chef is Mitsunori Kusakabe, who recently opened up his very own restaurant in San Francisco, after his stunts as executive chef at the Michelin-starred Sushi Ran in Sausalito and the executive chef of Nobu in Miami Beach.

Recently I ate at Chef Kusakabe’s new namesake restaurant, which could easily be considered the trendiest sushi spot in San Francisco right now, having been the newest restaurant to earn a Michelin star in the city.

My experience at Kusakabe was unexpected in many delightful ways. When you walk in, the ambiance is completely unpretentious and welcoming, as opposed to the sometimes intimidating sushi joints where the “sushi nazi” yells at you for dipping the sushi into soy sauce. Also, contributing to the serene and hospitable ambiance is the sustainable interior design, with its beautiful wooden bar made of a 30 foot slab of solid elm.

But of course the most unexpected and delightful part of the experience, was the menu itself (see video below for a 60 second tasting menu).

Chef Kusakabe’s innovation that has won his restaurant fame is to apply kaiseki principles and techniques to sushi. Kaiseki is reminiscent of Western haute cuisine, characterized by its meticulous preparation of multi-course dishes. And whereas sushi could sometimes be included in kaiseki-styled menus, no one has ever applied the principles to sushi itself, until now.

The kaiseki philosophy emphasizes “five colors” (white, purple, yellow, red, green), “five tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy)”, “five senses”(smell, taste, sight, hearing, touch), and “five methods” (roasted, boiled, fried, simmered and raw).

A fan of sushi, I was excited to see how Chef Kasakube could incorporate many different elements in his sushi servings. It’s fish on top of rice. How crazy could it really get? After the course began,  I looked at my boyfriend with happy bewilderment, and our faces acknowledged the unexpected flavors and textures that revealed themselves after we placed the sushi in our mouths.

These thoughtful masterpieces by Chef Kasukabe is an inspirational demonstration of the unforgettable experience that is possible when you challenge preexisting concepts and strive to delight your customer with the unexpected.

Kasakube sushi innovation

innovation sushi

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

Dieting in a world of technology and “holistic health”



For the first time in about 15 years, I’m on a diet.

This diet is loud, proud, and unashamed of what it us. Unlike the “cleanses” and “detoxes” I’ve undertaken in the past decade, this time I’m happy to call it what it is. Last night my friend offered me some pizza, and I just looked at him with disdain. “You know I’m on a diet”.

My open acceptance of my current diet was spurred on by an office weight loss challenge as part of DietBet, a website/app that runs “games”, challenging participants to lose a set percent of their body weight by a specific date. In our challenge, each player puts down $30 that they will lose 4% of their body weight in 4 weeks. All weigh-ins are private and digital, using code words of the day and pictures taken in mirrors to ensure that players aren’t cheating. By the final weigh-in, if you haven’t lost the weight, you get no money back – and those who have lost it get to split the pot.

How is DietBet getting away with encouraging dieting-out-loud, in this era of love-your-body and holistic wellness? They’re able to safely break the rules by tapping into some of the existing mega trends of the moment:

  • It’s completely curated by and for the person. There are no rules, no pace you have to follow, no regimented food lists or exercise plans. Each player has to decide how they want to play the game.
  • It’s also self-motivated. No one is checking in on you or pushing you (except the “Daily Carrot” emails); players have to push themselves to the finish line.
  • On the other hand, it leverages the power of social, encouraging folks to share their experiences and empower each other with motivation.
  • It challenges players to create stakes, betting real money on tangible results – raising the importance of the challenge for each player.
  • It also gamifies the challenge, with titles and prizes for inviting friends and weighing in.

By leveraging these trends, DietBet is making it okay to diet again, and, for me, it’s certainly taking some of the shame away from “diet”. At least now I can tell it like it is – to my friends, and to myself. Plus, I’m well on my way to my goal!

How can your category break some of its “rules” by tapping into current beliefs and trends?

Image credit: flickr user camknows (cc)

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

Honey Innovation: Flow, the Revolutionary Beehive

Innovation Honey

Recently, father and son beekeepers, Stuart and Cedar Anderson, from Australia got the beekeeping community buzzing when they introduced an innovation to transform the way honey is harvested.

The father and son duo had invented a revolutionary hive, Flow, that doesn’t disturb the bees and allows the honey to flow out into a jar like water from a faucet.

Depictions of humans collecting honey from bees date to about 15,000 years ago. And the methods of harvesting honey always been a very labor-intensive, traditionally taking 3-4 hours. However with Flow, you can get honey within 20 minutes. It is no wonder that the innovation sold over $1.7 million in 1 day.

“Harvesting your honey used to be a real labor of love. First you had to protect yourself from stings; Fire up a smoker to sedate the bees; Crack the hive open; Lift heavy boxes; Pull out the frames, trying not to squash bees; Brush the bees off the combs, or use a leaf blower; Transport the frames to a processing shed; Cut the wax capping off each frame with a heated knife or automatic uncapping machine; Put them in an extractor to spin out the honey; Filter out all the wax and dead bees; Clean up all the mess.”


This is a beautiful example of abandoning traditional methods that have been around for years and thinking creatively to make the process more efficient. After a decade of hard work and persistence, the duo is able to share their passion with others and allow for a less stressful relationship between beekeepers and bees.


antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tools, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

Hacking the Microwave: Innovation in the Kitchen

The microwave has stayed pretty much the same since it was first created over 40 years ago.

We came across this creative hack for a “better microwave” by Mark Rober who was tired of having to remove his frozen burrito from the microwave and cut it open just to check if was thoroughly heated, and if was not, to put it back in again.

Been there? We know we have, and so we were excited by his solution.

Check out the short video above as Rober shows how he uses infrared technology to innovate the way we microwave.

At antedote, we love tapping into existing technologies to create fresh solutions to challenges we have in the field, and enjoy following fellow innovators like Rober hack together clever but simple innovations for age old problems.



antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. 

To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tool, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

A Gastronomical Virtual Reality Experience


Gastronomical Innovation

Project Nourished by Kokiri Labs is a fascinating project that attempts to re-create the full sensory experience of eating, sans the actual food. Intended to help people with allergies and dietary restrictions, the project is a curious exploration into how different technologies can be combined to simulate the eating experience.

By combining an Oculus Virtual Reality headset, food detection utensils, motion sensor, and aromatic diffusers, Kokiri Labs hopes to allow people with food related illnesses to eat to their heart’s content, without the negative consequences.


Allergic to seafood, but want to eat prawns? No problem!

Diabetic, but want to eat a strawberry pie? Why not!


The project was actually inspired by the Lost Boy’s imaginary feast scene in the heart warming 1990s movie, Hook (check out the clip below).

Although a seemingly far-fetched solution, we love how this idea taps into the latest technology and pushes for innovative ways of thinking to solve problems. We look forward to seeing how this project evolves and how other labs use emerging technologies like Virtual Reality to solve other existing challenges.

antedote is a strategic insights and innovation consultancy based in San Francisco, and we have helped many of the world’s leading brands like Pepsico and Unilever to garner deeper insights about their consumers and identify opportunities to grow their brands. To learn about antedote’s latest award-winning innovation and insight tool, please click below for a free demo:

Learn more

Food Innovation: Sriracha Hot Stout Beer anyone?


Sriracha Hot Stout Beer anyone?

I’m a huge fan of tantalizing the taste buds with weird and unusual mash-ups of flavors. Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Sriracha has been all the rage among foodies. Consumers love the spicy sauce, and it is rumored (but from my personal experience proven!) to be good on anything and everything. I’ve witnessed my friends put Sriracha sauce on anything from fries and pizza to salad and even donuts.

As a lover of Sriracha I was amused and very curious to hear that a brewery decided to debut an interesting food innovation – the Sriracha Hot Stout Beer.

The team at AdWeek decided to test out this new concoctions. Check out their individual reactions.

If you still haven’t gotten enough of Sriracha, here are a few food items that you can explore:

Sriracha Kettle Chips
Sriracha Peas
Sriracha PopcornSriracha Lay’s
Sriracha Bacon Jerky
UV Sriracha
Subway Sriracha Chicken Melt

And if you suffer from Sriracha withdrawals, there is now even a portable 4.5 inch Sriracha bottle keychain for you to ensure you have your sauce at every meal.

Pizza Hut Innovation: The “Subconscious Menu”


Pizza Hut’s Menu Innovation

It’s always fun to see new technology being used in new and unexpected places. One fascinating area where the latest eye-tracking technology is being experimented with is at the pizza joint.  Pizza Hut recently joined Swedish Company Tobii Technology in launching a new menu innovation called the “Subconscious Menu”. The technology syncs with the consumers’ eyes, and based on where their eyes had rested the longest on a tablet screen that displays the chain’s 20 most popular ingredients, it creates your “perfect pizza” in 2.5 seconds, without the consumer ever having to say a word. Pizza Hut claims that they currently have an astounding success rate of 98%.

As eye-tracking becomes more refined and gets more traction in marketing, we are excited for the infinite possibilities that will emerge when leveraging new technology in research to discover more insights into human behavior.

Debunking Nutrition Myths

Last week our workplace hosted Nutritionist Carla Hernandez from Wise Roots Nutrition to give a talk on debunking five common nutrition myths. In a category full of myths, fads, and trends, I was curious to learn something new from her about nutrition, and as a researcher I was just a bit curious to see how she made her case and what myths she chose to tackle.

The talk consisted of debunking a handful of commonly held nutrition myths. She began with a myth we’ve all heard people say, “Organic food is overrated.” Carla said it isn’t. In a nutshell, it has higher nutritional content across the board, reduces the toxic/chemical load, and if that wasn’t enough to convince us, by eating organic (and most often paying more), you’re contributing to sustainable healthy soil.

Another myth she debunked is “Whole wheat is an essential part of a balanced diet.” Instead of trying to disprove the decade old advice that whole wheat is important for digestion, etc., Carla began by bridging the generational gap and talking about how wheat is not the same as it was 50 years ago, and has since been genetically modified. She didn’t go into what exactly this means, but heads were nodding and it gave me yet another proof point behind my behavior of avoiding whole grains.

Once the stage was set, Carla went on to debunk myths including “Eating a lot of protein is bad for your kidneys,” “Egg yolks are bad for you because of cholesterol”, and “Fat makes you fat.” It turns out, protein and fat don’t hurt you or make you fat, but you may just need to avoid sugar and diversify your protein sources—possibly include some gelatin or bone broth in your diet, and definitely eat the egg yolk.

These days, people need much more convincing because of contradictory advice we hear. What makes something a myth? It’s a widely held but false belief or idea. It’s incredibly difficult to weed through the clutter of widely held advice to know who to trust, and to feel like you are making the right purchase decisions, and ultimately nutritional choices.

If a company is going to take a stab at debunking a myth and educating consumers, it’s important to do it right. It’s not enough to convince people to buy your product because it’s the latest and greatest. It’s important to arm them with clear proof points so that they stick with your brand or product. This isn’t always easy, for example, if you’re changing your core product drastically, how are you going to help consumers navigate that change without ignoring what your product used to be? If you’re adding or removing ingredients, how are you going to clearly state the benefit of those ingredients? And even more so, how are you going to not make consumers feel stupid for believing false advice, and how are you going to reaffirm the things they do know so that they feel capable and in control.

Behavior changes aren’t caused by telling people everything, but by feeding them bite-size, digestible bits of information that they can understand, and share. While I’m not sure I’ll be buying into the homemade bone broth craze anytime soon, I might start packing a variety of proteins into my diet, and I can give myself a pat on the back for eating the whole egg.

Bubble Gum Broccoli? McDonald’s Food Innovation Fail

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As McDonald’s faces pressure to revive their sales as they lose their consumers to healthier fast-casual options like Chipotle, who promotes organic and local sourcing, they are moving on multiple fronts to stay relevant, and ultimately thrive in an increasingly health-conscious world.

Bubble Gum Flavored Broccoli” is one thing that McDonald’s has discovered not to do.

This wacky food mashup was a front-runner in McDonald’s attempt to get kids to eat vegetables, with CEO Don Thompson sharing the breakthrough publicly at a VC event. However, unsurprisingly enough, they soon realized that adding sweet flavoring to a vegetable wouldn’t make it any more appetizing to kids who were absolutely confused by the flavor.

The crunchy cruciferous has always been a hard sell with growing palates, and in the past they’ve been smothered with sauces far and wide to make them easier to eat. Broccoli has been whirled into green juices and hidden away with other natural flavors to make a tasty drink. We can imagine that McDonald’s saw a number of benefits with the reflavoring including cost, exclusivity and an offering that fits in the “healthy” category. Since we don’t know how this concoction was created (through additional flavorings or genetics), they’ve left open the door for blowback from related to GMO concerns, ridicule by healthy food advocates and parents that are trying to get their children to explore new tastes and textures.

McDonald’s needs to better understand its own consumers in order to focus their product development efforts. Throwing oddities like bubble gum broccoli at a wall to see what sticks may not be the most efficient way to launch successful innovations.

What emotional and social factors drive people to and away from McDonald’s? What opportunities are there for McDonald’s to encourage healthier eating from their menu? How can the brand launch innovations that support a healthier image that overshadows their “Super Size Me” scar?

To innovate and survive in an increasingly health-conscious world, fast food and casual dining restaurants need to gain consumer insights that can help to identify the best opportunities to stay one step, or multiple steps ahead of the curve for their brand. Consumer understanding is the key, and McDonald’s needs to take their insight to the next level to avoid public missteps as they work to transition their brand.


What your acquired tastes can teach you about the product experience

When I was younger, my dad always encouraged me to try new food and to be open to the unusual and unfamiliar. I remember when I was 6, my dad sliced open this potent prickly yellow fruit from China Town that had the dining room smelling like old gym socks. I remember trying not to gag as I watched my dad delightfully eat the fruit, spoonful by spoonful.

In an effort to make me try the fruit, my dad offered to pay me a dollar for every bite I had. I saw the large bowl of fruit and contemplated what I could buy if I ate them all. I did want a new Sky Dancer. “Go on it tastes like ice cream! $1 for every bite!” my dad coaxed. With my brand new Sky Dancer in mind, I held my breathe and tried my first bite of the fruit.

I made $1 that day.


Durian, along with smoking and flammable goods, are banned from Singapore’s mass rapid transit.

The fruit was called the Durian. Its smell is so notorious that it is even forbidden on some forms of public transportation in Southeast Asia (along with smoking and flammable goods).

I was recently reminded of my first Durian experience when my colleague, as tradition when traveling abroad, brought back some unique snacks for the office.

These snacks from his hometown in England were unfamiliar treats to me. On the desk there were Oven Baked Marmite Cashews, Giant Parma Violets, Pot Noodle, Turkish, Picallil Pickles to name a few. Looking at the diverse array of ingredients on the desk and unable to imagine how they would taste, I recalled Harry Potter Bertie Bott’s Jelly Bean’s odd flavors like Horse Radish, Booger, Earthworm, and Soap.

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Being my father’s daughter, I tried the snacks he brought back. My colleague claimed that this was comfort food for the people back home, but the unfamiliar tastes were not to my liking nor were there anything I would try to “acquire” liking.

Why is it in some communities, people will go nuts over marmite, durian, or whatever it is, whereas someone else in a different community would spit it out in disgust?

What motivates or allows us to acquire those certain “acquired tastes”?

One theory is exposure. In psychology the theory of mere exposure is that you are more likely to have feel positively towards something that you are exposed to often. In 2000, Zajonc conducted a studyin which it showed participants a series of foreign words, which they were asked to rate based on each word’s connotation. The words that were shown repeatedly were rated, on average, one point higher in positivity than words that were only shown once.

Another reason that people are motivated to like certain food are its effects. And often the effects outweigh the taste. For example, coffee and alcohol are both beverages that I doubt anyone would describe as incredibly delicious on their first sip. Many first time coffee drinkers describe the beverage as bitter. Similarly, for alcohol, does anyone ever truly love his first glass of scotch?

As evidence by the growing movement for Flavor Reversal, people love to shock their taste buds with the weirdest of the weird. Flavor Reversal blurs the lines of savory and sweetness in unconventional ways. Have you tried the avocado donut or the salad flavored soda pop? The enjoyment of the different tastes and textures provides an experience that puts your taste buds into shock…or maybe for some, gustatory bliss.

There is merit to brands and products having a look, feel, and taste that is familiar. The more exposure they have to a consistent look, feel, and taste, the more positively they will view the brand/product.  

On the other side of the spectrum, novel tastes are “in”. The only caution is the sustainability of continuously churning out new flavor after new flavor, latching on to the latest foodie trend. There will always be a new craze that will rise to popularity as another one subsides. How are you building a long-lasting experience that will keep consumers loyal to you?

A desired benefit/effect of a product can also successfully motivate users to try and like something different or unsavory. What is the benefit of using your product? What is the story your users want to hear? How can the product consistently deliver that story throughout each touch point of the consumer’s experience?

If you are one who is adventurous, here are some notorious acquired tastes from around the world to explore.

Natto from Japan – fermented soybeans
Asafoetida from Iran – dried latex exuded from the tap root
Stinking Toe from the Carribeans – “the West Indian Locust”
Marmite from the UK – dark brown and salty food spread whose slogan is fittingly “Love it or Hate it”

What are some of your favorite “acquired tastes” in your local community? And how did you come to “acquire” the taste?

Finding inspiration for innovation–without leaving your neighborhood

When most people think about gathering inspiration, they probably think about visiting a city they’ve never been to, retreating into nature, or reading up on the latest fashion trends. While there is a great of inspiration to be found in exploring the new and exciting and getting lost in thought, sometimes the best exercise for your insight muscle and creativity for innovation is simply acting as a tourist among familiar sights and sounds around you in your own city—or as we like to call it at antedote: streetscaping. Streetscaping is wandering around familiar or unfamiliar places with the lens of discovery and soaking up what’s happening, interesting, standing out, or even hiding.

Your neighborhood is your best and closest resource to gathering information, and it’s amazing what you can discover in a few short hours. As researchers, it’s important to live as a consumer, to experience things firsthand rather than as you would expect, and to walk around with your senses heightened. Here are some things that I discovered this weekend while walking through my neighborhood with a new set of eyes, and no particular destination.

Craftsman and Wolves – On special occasions I’ll run by Craftsman and Wolves for their delicious pastries. I’m usually in a hurry, but today I had all the time in the world. These people are off the charts creative. Their love of food is evident in everything from the environment, to the presentation, and of course, the tastes.

Dandelion Chocolate – I had received a gift from a friend that included some chocolates from this local shop. Intrigued by the packaging, I decided to drop by. Inside the store you can actually watch the chocolate being made. They also offer regular lectures on provenance (the next one featured someone returning from a sourcing trip to talk about what they found.) The entire place is extremely experiential.

Mission Cheese – You don’t have to go abroad to experience amazing cheese. Walking into this store is like walking into a cheese shop in Europe.

Self-edge – While food is a great way to experience the world with all five senses, self-edge is an emerging kind of space that’s all about sustainability, recycled materials, and of course, makers. At antedote we’ve done plenty of work with Makers, so I stopped by to chat with the staff about what they were doing, and of course bought a hat to replace the one I had lost in London.

Creativity Explored – Another unique kind of space, creativity explored is “where art changes life.” It’s a space that people can come and create, or walk through galleries including everything from kids drawings to professional works of art. This place is the blend of an art studio and a gallery, and is a perfect example of inviting your clientele into the creative process.

Dog-eared books – Second hand bookstores have been around for a very long time, so they are often overlooked when it comes to innovation. I made sure to drop by Dog-eared books to check out the local staff picks and to see what sort of themes are standing out to readers these days.

Chocolatier Blue – In case I hadn’t had enough chocolate, I dropped by Chocolate Blue. I paid attention to every detail in the chocolate presentation. Everything was so precise—and unlike chocolate that I normally eat—I sampled the unique options such as chili, waffles and ice cream, and caramel apple.

The Chai Cart – I’m not a chai drinker myself, but one of my employees is, and so I brought back a brochure to share with her and pass on a bit of the experience I had that day.

What’s most fascinating to me is that all of these places were right down the road from my apartment, but I felt as if I’d never been in the neighborhood before. I wasn’t working; I was driven by the love of curiosity to see what I would find. It’s obvious the implications that discovery and observation have for your work—borrowing from other categories is a key element of innovation. Practicing these skills of engagement and observation can influence your skills as a researcher as well. When you’re conducting research, you have to have your eyes and ears open to new things, or seeing old things in a new light.

I parked my car on 16th, and only made it as far as 20th and Valencia, and I was gone the entire day.