The rise of fantasy-flavoured foods

Why the food industry is moving from ‘strawberry vanilla’ to ‘fairytale bliss’

31 May 2024

Hype & Trend Signal

The culinary world is entering a new era of enchantment with the advent of fantasy-flavoured foods. From ‘cosmic punch’ to ‘Arctic avalanche’, the food industry is moving away from literal taste descriptions and embracing cryptic and poetic product names. But why? Let's dive into this fantasy flavours trend to explore its origins and its consumer appeal.

In the supermarket tea aisle, we are long used to seeing options such as ‘winter glow’, ‘happy Mondays’ and ‘feel new’. But now producers of sodas, ice creams and pastries are exploring more creative product names too. According to Innova Market Insights, this trend saw a 23% average annual growth rate among new products from 2020 to 2023. Flavours such as ‘rainbow,’ ‘cosmic’, and ‘dream’ have led this surge. They resonated very well with Gen Z and millennial consumers who crave unique and extraordinary experiences.

The magic behind fantasy flavors

What exactly makes these flavours so appealing? Well, first all they benefit from the appeal of the unusual. Fantasy-flavoured products such as unicorn cookies offer an escape from the mundane. Even if they’re just chocolate chip cookies in a rebranded packaging, they tap into the desire for novelty and adventure. This allure of the unknown and the fantastical makes consumers curious and eager to try these innovative products. 

Emotional connection

Firstly, a fantasy name is a good marketing tool. It sparks curiosity and stands out on-shelf. But products with really good fantasy names go further. Just like terms such as ‘homemade’ and ‘Grandma’s’ are often used to evoke feelings of warmth, comfort and nostalgia. They evoke an emotional response. Fantasy names use the same principle of conjuring positive memories and emotions. Oftentimes, quite literally, think of the Magnum Euphoria and Magnum Wonder ice creams. Other options such as the Starchaser and Sunlover are a little more covert. These names paint vivid pictures in the consumer's mind – Starchaser paints a picture of nighttime adventures and celestial wonder, while Sunlover evokes images of warm, sunny days filled with joy and relaxation. These evocative names transport consumers to a different world, enhancing the sensory experience and creating a deeper, emotional connection with the product.

Taste of a sunset and the future

Coca-Cola embraced the fantasy flavour trend with its futuristic Year 3000 drink, which adds an exotic AI-powered flavor to the familiar cola taste. That gives consumers a chance to taste the future. Tropicana released Caribbean Sunset, which is meant to make you think of relaxing in a hammock on a sunny beach. The drink doesn’t even mention the fruit ingredients on the front of the packaging, there are just some subtle depictions of tropical fruits. But while most examples to date can be found in the drinks and ice cream categories, there are fantasy flavours already to be found in the bakery, patisserie and chocolate industry. 

Taste the space

Oreo released limited-edition Space Dunk cookies this year with the tagline ‘taste the space’. The cookies feature galactic designs and have a pink and blue layer of ‘cosmic creme’, which tastes like marshmallows and is infused with ‘stardust’ popping candy. The mysterious nature of the product composition and the packaging designs turns the familiar snack into an out-of-this-world experience. With the cookie and the accompanying marketing campaign, Oreo not only captivates the curiosity of consumers but also strengthens its brand identity as a fun and adventurous choice. 

The Strategy Behind Fantasy Flavours

Considering opting for something more exciting than ‘chocolate caramel’ for your next product release? If you want to make the most out of your fantasy flavour name, keep these key principles in mind:

  • Spark curiosity: Creative names raise the most attention. Consumers are more likely to try a product if its name suggests a unique experience such as space travel. Think of Stardust Scones, Galaxy Glaze Pastries, Celestial Cinnamon Rolls or Lunar Lemon Bars.

  • Appeal to emotions: A name such as ‘Chill’ and ‘Crazy carnival’ evokes emotions. They make products memorable and tap into consumer memories or longings. That could be Cozy Comfort Pie, Golden Hour Madeleine or Midnight Magic Muffins.

  • Brand identity: Unique names help build a distinct brand image, setting products apart in a crowded market. Just think of the funny Ben & Jerry’s ice cream names that are full of wordplay and current affairs. Maybe something like Almond Avalanche Adventure, ChocoLottaLove Sundae or Berry Bizarre Bliss?

  • Perceived value: Imaginative names can make a product feel more premium and exclusive, which can be good for your margins. That could sound like Diamond Noir Croissants, Moonlit Splendor Gateau or Royal Velvet Macarons.

While fantasy-flavoured foods are on the rise, they represent more than a trend. Product names invoking adventure and escapism match the shift towards experiential eating, where taste, imagination and emotion intertwine. As brands continue to innovate and explore this magical realm, they are not just creating products but crafting experiences that resonate deeply with consumers. Maybe they are even setting the stage for a new era where the emotion the product conjures up is as important as the flavours themselves?

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