Food marketing has always been highly dependent on good visuals. That's why there is an entire industry dedicated to taking professional shots of food for restaurants, food producers and chefs. A marketing piece can't convey, outside of copy, smell, texture or taste. But great visuals can suggest them.
Food photography, too, focuses on placing eats in an emotional context. The lighting, the focus, the depth of field and the image background all help to instill in the viewer a particular expectation of the sampling experience.
Are you marketing rusticism? Are you marketing fresh and natural? Are you marketing a restaurant to young, dating couples? Or food truck fare to hungry Millennials? The right, professionally-produced image can bring customers flocking.
Realizing this, many food purveyors have been snapping pics and snapping up space in the social mediasphere. Visual platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr are great ways to reach out to core audiences and whet appetites.
Foodies Congregate On Image-Sharing Social Media Platforms
Millennials, in particular, seem to love "food porn." They can't get enough of it.
They take pictures of and rate their restaurant meals on Yelp. They experiment in their home kitchens and report their results with close-ups. They take pictures of their groceries in the checkout aisle and send them out over Instagram.
What feeds all this gastronomic narcissism? The very nature of social media.
Social media are both friend and foe to the Millennial. They are means to attract attention from ones' peers, or the sources of self esteem-undermining envy on the flipside. They're great platforms on which to find new ideas, or to have one's own ideas mercilessly ridiculed.
Like a co-dependent relationship, many young foodies love — and hate — social media. But they just can't find a way to leave the blogosphere.
Instagram Is One Of The Most Popular Image-Sharing Platforms Among Millennials
Among the visually-oriented platforms, Instagram has one of the widest, most diverse reaches. Although Pinterest, for example, has a wide user base, it skews heavily toward women. Instagram, on the other hand, plays well to both genders in the 18-44 age range.
And the platform is growing quickly. Last year, the app reported over 200 million active users, with more joining every day. And it's the perfect medium for young adults with little time and short attention spans.
Posts are just pictures and captions. The feed is easy to scroll through as one waits in line at a store, as one sits in a traffic jam, or during a 2 to 3-minute coffee break.
Like Facebook, it's "like" based but, as on Twitter, it aggregates a lot of information in a tiny amount of space. Restaurants and food companies can use it both to market to individual's impulses and to influence the prevailing trends in food.
Artisan Foods Are Particularly Well-Suited For The Medium
Since artisanal foods are based on quality ingredients, natural ingredients and slow-craft processes, they tend to lend themselves well to ace food photography.
Artisan breads, for example, are highly textured. They often feature visible grains of interesting varieties and shades. They beg to be bitten into, chewed and savored. They appeal visually to lovers of crunchy crusts and soft, warm centers. Contrast this with the typical grocery store bread varieties. No matter how well-positioned the bread is in the shot, it doesn't have the same oomph as a roll of artisanal bread.
Creamy, artisan gelato will always play better on visual media than standard ice creams, which are often injected with volume-fluffing "filler" air during the manufacturing process. Contrast the two photos — they both feature rich colors and contextual placement, but the gelato stands out for its smooth, micro-granulated texture.
The point? Millennials love exotic, hand-crafted foods, and artisan food companies should be using visually-based social media like Instagram to appeal to young foodies right where they live: online. Digital is the new food mag.