Food for thought

Let us start with disclaimers first….. I claim no expertise ( although I might have some ) in the areas I am trying to put fundas about.

So here is my research topic, people across the word are trying to figure out, what works for their customers who come in different shapes and sizes. What are the aspects of a product which makes them click and what makes them not click. So I thought let us learn from something which appears to be totally related in the first view but I am sure you will realize the inter links soon.

Food, yes all of love having it everyday and we have been doing it for ages as a species. Even before languages developed and society became so complex that you needed to hire a consultancy company to tell you common sense. Human food habits have developed over ages and some of the food items have become more universal then others. What I will try to understand is that what makes a food universal and how we can use that knowledge in other domains.

So let us start with the first universal food. French Fries. Let the french and belgians fight over it’s origin but that is the way word knows it. Why has french fries become so popular across the world. In my opinion the reason is simple, health and taste do not go hand in hand. Most of the tasty things are not healthy and combining potatoes with oil is a very unhealthy ( and therefore tasty) combination. This is a dish which appeals to basic instincts of each individual to consume unhealthy and tasty food. Obviously I can not take anything away from MacD for making it popular across the world but ability to appeal to basic instincts of mankind has been one of the primary reason for making this popular across the world.

My next stop is in Italy. Yes I am talking about Pizza. Across the world Pizzas sell like crazy and are loved by kids and adults. So what is there in Pizza which makes it so universal. In my opinion it is due to the flexibility offered by the Pizza to mean so many tastes to so many people. I am sure 90% of the world eats a version of Pizza which most of the italians will not even call it a distant relative of original Pizza. But every one is happy with their own Pizza. My personal favorite is Wooster Street Pizza with jalapenos and pineapple as toppings. What makes pizza great is that it means so many different things to so many people.

Just to summarize my learnings from food for other businesses….

– Build something which solves a fundamental problem. In a complex societies like ours we have a multi tier hierarchy of needs but the closer you get to the bottom of the pyramid, better the probability of scaling it to a larger audience
– Be adaptable and flexible on the product content if your goal is to reach out to a large audience. All your users will not perceive you as the same product but an ability to adapt to their needs and perceptions is an important aspect.


  1. anonymous

    Well the article deos suggest how the business has to be seen and what has to be the approach.

    But one question which I do have here is, the explanation is given in terms of food which are internationally known, and there could have been a similar explanation stated using our local food.

    I am arriving at a point where in the business now is not how to target the international base when there is an equal opportunity for us to target the local base, wherein even from the technology front we can have something going on in India.

    This is just my thought.

  2. Ishita Sinha

    I could not agree with you more … health and taste do not go hand in hand. Most of the tasty things are not healthy and combining potatoes with oil is a very unhealthy …
    I too have believed in this theory ..I know very little about food … yet I enjoyed reading this article of yours …

  3. Naveen Unni

    Could another possible conclusion be “build something that is fundamentally unhealthy, but which at the same time appeals to people baser instincts” 🙂 … examples include “big-boss” and all those ultra-violent-video-games… Tongue-firmly-in-cheek :)…

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