By Emmanuel Laroche, VP Marketing & Consumer Insights, Symrise NA

Consumers are always craving gourmet food and drink experiences. “Dining experiences for two” has more than 5.5M results in Google and “Gourmet dining” more than 3.8M. Premium indulgence is one of the four main important trends impacting food and beverage categories. 

Apart from classic premium products, today the demand for handcrafted specialties and casual deluxe culinary experiences provide a luscious change from daily routine. Indulgence and the love for quality are expressed by a sovereign selection of food and drinks, while all of them deliver a more casual approach to premium.

You, as food or beverage manufacturers, are always seeking and finding ways to satisfy consumer demand for an indulgent experience. While there is no single definition of what indulgent food is, consumers recognize what pleasure in fine food and drinks is. They want the full experience. We, as foodie consumers are eating for pleasure. We turn the pleasure of eating into a science. We dissect the experience into flavor descriptions, aroma sensations and texture analysis sometimes bringing the exasperation in our family, friends or guests.

Understand first that there is more than the food in what makes the most pleasurable moment.

One of my most memorable pleasurable food experiences was years ago celebrating my 10 year anniversary. I organized a surprise long weekend for my wife (now ex) and me in a medieval castle in the South of France. The "Chateau de Trigance” offered a spectacular Provencal dinner in the old armory, a vault dry stone from the 11th century. The candlelight dinner, the medieval atmosphere, the old music, everything was there to make our experience a step out of time.

Many elements outside of the food contributed to making that moment one of my most pleasurable experience.  In our research with more than one thousand consumers to understand what pleasure means when it comes to food and beverage, the intensity of pleasure is linked to certain key dimensions. Only three dimensions are related to what consumers eat and drink. We have called them "Experiential", "Sensorial" and "Value".

Fore more consumer insights related to food and beverage categories, CLICK HERE!

Another group of three dimensions connects the consumers with their surrounding: the "Ambiance", the "Relationship" aspect and the “Ritual Moment”.

The last three dimensions are related to how the consumers make a choice about the food: “Conscious Choice”, “Self-Gratification” or ”Impulse”.

See the 9 key Pleasure Dimensions.

Realize that only two food related dimensions are critical overall: Sensorial and Exploration

Five dimensions drive pleasure for all categories of food and beverages. Two are related to food: Sensorial and Exploration. The other three are not:  Relationship, Ritual Moment and Self-Gratification.

  1. Sensorial

Consumer quote: “I like to experiment with different flavors, additives and varieties of food. I like to go over the top sometimes. I do not like bland foods, so I will never just cook a vegetable and serve it. It must be seasoned, buttered and maybe add a different flavor to it.  A vacation for the mouth, nose and a neat escape for the body”

The top keyword defining Sensorial are: Euphoria, seeing, tasting, feeling, hearing and rare

  1. Exploration

Consumer quote: “Creating a new recipe is like discovering a new planet!”

The top keywords defining Exploration are: Experimenting, learning by doing, discovery, teaching, creativity, transmission and know-how

  1. Relationship

Consumer quote: “Sharing favorite recipes with friends are special, too – a favorite social event is a potluck meal where everyone brings something that they prepare to  share with everyone.”

The top keywords defining Relationship are Sharing, Recognition and Satisfaction Giving,

  1. Ritual Moment

Consumer quote: “Brunch in NYC is an important ritual for me and my friends!”

The top words defining Ritual Moment are: Remembering, Surprise, Repetition, Anticipation, Quality Time and Relaxing Moment

  1. Self-Gratification

Consumer quote: “My most memorable experience took place at home, alone. It was a regular day. I was cooking a home-cooked meal and watching a movie. I felt relaxed and happy!”

The top keywords defining Self-Gratification are: Guilty pleasure, reward, happiness, bliss, and escapes

Finally, recognize the three key most pleasure moments for US consumers.

In their diaries and in the qualitative research, consumers shared with us more than five hundred of their most memorable moment of pleasure.  These moments can be clustered in ten groups. Each food and drink category has their key moments of pleasure and overall only three moments are driving pleasure in the US: Intimate Sharing, Family & Friend Togetherness, and Celebration.

Intimate Sharing: Sensual pleasures of the senses! Like...a good relationship. It's satisfying, sometimes indulgent, and often passionate.

“I like to cook meals with my husband…sharing the new foods with my husband…drinking Champagne.

Family & Friend Togetherness: Enjoying a family gathering that's warm and engaging.  The satisfaction and happiness and fulfillment of good friends and company.

“I cook a lot, every day.  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Love entertaining family and friends.  I’m  a dedicated cook who loves to serve his family.”

Celebration: Events that are celebrated with family and friends. Good food is always there to provide the basis for celebration.

“I prepare ahead of time and deliver with love and flavor. Having holiday celebrations”.

Symrise can guide you to develop and position products in the indulgent space and can give you suggestions on how to best communicate about it.

Check back next week for key learnings for selected food and beverage categories!


Symrise NA has conducted a consumer research study to more precisely understand the DNA of pleasure and to understand specific pleasure moments in specific product categories. The study involved consumer diaries around the US leveraging our online community or early adopters (“the Flavor Designer Club”) and an online quantitative research with 1,300 US consumers.

Symrise NA is offering a two-stage workshop to develop immediate indulgent opportunities for existing brands and to develop customized approaches leveraging cross-functional teams.

Click here to learn more on how Symrise NA can help you create immediate opportunities for your brands in the indulgent space?

Join your peers today!

Get the latest articles, news and trends in the Food & Beverage industry delivered directly to your inbox. Don't miss out! Enter your email address below to receive the weekly in-sight newsletter.


StarChefs Los Angeles 2024 Panel Discussion

When it’s time for another StarChefs panel discussion, where else but Los…

Happy Holidays from Symrise! See you in 2024!

Thank you for reading and sharing in-sight in 2023! We're taking a holiday…