In a food culture that increasingly values natural ingredients, artisanal flavors, and clean eating, how can a traditional packaged-goods manufacturer adapt? It’s a question North America’s third-largest food and beverage company struggled with as it sought to evolve 15 of its iconic brands — some of which were perceived as holdovers from an era of highly processed food.

Paradoxically, despite the vast amount of information they had accumulated over time, no person or team was harnessing the power of their collective knowledge. Instead, functional areas had partially informed perspectives on market trends, segmentation studies, shopper journeys, and buying patterns. Beyond recognizing the need to align eight business units on the new food culture, key stakeholders agreed that ongoing investment in syndicated trend reports was often met without actionable returns.

In concert with the culinary team, synthesizing hundreds of documents facilitated the development of a cohesive account detailing the everyday cook’s journey. The amalgamation of shopper trends, consumption data, and competitive intelligence not only informed continuous deep dives into quantifiable cooking behaviors, but also into the complex — and sometimes irrational — interplay of aspirations and emotions that drive these behaviors. Immersing themselves in these insights allowed audiences across the organization to step into the shoes of consumers to explore the impact that the modern cooking cycle — from shopping, to planning, to plating — has on packaged goods.

Once a common framework to understand the cook’s journey took root inside the organization, a curated point of view that articulated relevant trends and their influence on brands became the connective tissue. A family of focused narratives showcasing how trends related to the journey were then brought to life through the universal language of information design. Framing, context, and interrelationships leveraged the laws of design scalability to allow for repeatability, familiarity, and adoptability across the organization. These principles were foundational to the creation of materials that were not only adaptive and accessible, but translatable across online and interactive channels.

In honoring the different languages of learning across teams, these new information streams and cross-channel communications led to more intuitive decision-making. By transforming how knowledge is socialized and internalized throughout its organization, this conglomerate better fueled its innovation pipeline, while reinvigorating in-store merchandising, recipe creation, and packaging invention.

Galvanizing its investment in trend information further resulted in greater ROI on inputs that were not only sitting idle, but that at times were elusive. Ultimately, this work guided the company toward the foresight it needed to help reshape the food culture and its impact on the packaged foods industry.