Based on research from Mintel’s 2016 Canadian Lifestyles report, Canadian consumer spending on groceries and food service has never been higher. For many reasons, consumers are increasing their spending in this category and cutting back in other places.

Below are the trends that marketers in this major and growing category should be aware of.

1. Packaging:

Packaging helps make your brand come alive, it is a major part of the experience consumers have before and after they taste the food found within it. In recent months, major brands are introducing very engaging and exciting package designs. Domino’s pizza has turned their boxes into giant domino pieces, McDonald’s in Sweden has Happy Meal boxes that will turn into virtual reality headsets and Coca-Cola has included personal names and song lyrics on their soda packaging. Packaging that draws the consumer in and takes a step outside the traditional box has the ability to set your brand apart.

2. Entertainment:

The dining experience isn’t complete unless it is paired with some kind of entertainment. Marketers are creating shareable, viral content that showcases their brand and gives the brand personality. Hamburger Helper, for example, shared a mixtape called ‘Watch the Stove’ that quickly went viral, while Tostitos launched a small online video series to raise awareness of their chips and salsa. Top marketers are creating entertaining brand experiences that raise awareness and bring the brand to life to enhance and draw attention to the dining experience.

3. Conscious Consumers:

Consumers are becoming more aware and concerned about their food choices. Food isn’t just food – A growing number of consumers are looking for fair-trade, organic, responsibly sourced foods. They want to know what is in it and how it was made. It is important to define what your brand stands for and how you will communicate and live that brand promise as consumers look for companies who are conscious of what they consume.

Organizations in the food category will continue to set themselves apart if they find their position and deliver a unique and memorable experience through packaging, entertainment and food quality.