Fusion Food vs. Traditional Cuisine

America loves cultural cuisine, whether we’re cooking it at home or eating out. People are hungry for different tastes, always wanting to try something new. Some prefer authentic flavors from some corner of the globe that they’ve never explored, others want an exciting fusion of flavors from two or more cultures, and still others want to try it all. Your job as a marketer is to let people know what they’re getting!

When designing the messaging for your marketing materials for your traditional offerings, you should focus on the provenance of the food. Where does this recipe come from? Who traditionally cooks it and eats it?  Is it a special holiday dish, or an every day offering from street vendors? Mention what makes it authentic, whether it’s that you’re using a recipe passed down through generations, or ingredients sourced from “over there.” Your marketing should evoke a sense of place, and of the culture behind it.

For fusion foods, make it clear that what you’re offering is not traditional, but a modern take on a traditional dish. What influences went into this fusion? Whether it’s a mixing of two cultures, or an attempt to make a dish healthier or more accessible for today’s palates, you should explain what makes it new and exciting. Don’t overplay the novelty, though. You don’t want to seem like a gimmick, but instead have people asking “Why didn’t someone think of this sooner?”

For both traditional and fusion cuisine, you want to sell the story. People love to read about learning to cook from grandma, or that time you were out of plates so you rolled up chow mien in a tortilla and invented the Chinese burrito. The only difference is what sort of emotions the stories should evoke – traditional food evokes a sense of nostalgia, fusion food a sense of adventure.

If you sell both traditional and fusion cuisine, you’ll want to make sure that you keep them distinct in your marketing. This is especially important if you have a B2B focus, as you may not have control how your products are used and presented once they’re out of your hands, so you want to make sure your customers have a clear idea of what they’re getting!

A few final notes on avoiding pitfalls: watch out for falling back on stereotypes or clichés. Ethnic fonts, over-used symbolism, and phrases like “East meets West” or “ with a Twist!” are all over-played. At best they’ll get an eye roll, at worst you may offend someone. Instead of using the outdated markers, look for symbolism and slogans that are unique and specific to your brand, rather than the culture you draw from. You’ll present a more authentic image of yourself, and stand out from the crowd.


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