Designing food experiences for well-being

This special issue seeks to expand the research conducted to date, and approach the relationship between design thinking and well-being through a broad lens-focusing on food consumption activities. This special issue builds on the recent literature on food consumption and consumer well-being (Addis and Holbrook, 2019; Batat, 2019; Batat et al., 2019; Block et al. 2011; Scott and Vallen, 2019) as well as works on food justice and sustainability (Batat et al., 2017; Batat, 2016). Specifically, it questions how Design Thinking can help researchers, marketers, institutions, public policy makers, and food services and industry to enhance the food well-being of consumers by designing healthy, pleasurable, and innovative food experiences including meals, space, delivery, services, etc.

A Design Thinking approach can provide important insights to understand and address a wide range of transformative consumer research issues comprising relationship to food, self-control, and designing future healthy eating experiences. Despite these big promises, until recently there have been only a few attempts to develop and implement a Food Design Thinking for food innovation and well-being focusing on the whole food experience.

Design Thinking, a term first introduced by Buchanan in 1992 in design studies uses the designer’s methods to match people’s needs with what is technically feasible and commercially viable (Brown, 2008). It has been defined as a human-centered innovation process that emphasizes observation, collaboration, fast learning, visualization of ideas, rapid prototyping, and concurrent business analysis (Lockwood, 2010). During the last 10-15 years, Design Thinking has evolved from a way of thinking among engineers when designing technical products to become a very popular innovation technique among scholars focusing on innovation management (Olsen, 2015).

In food innovation, research reveals that Design Thinking is gradually making its way into the food value chain too. Consultancy firms and non-profit organizations offer Design Thinking help to individual firms, branch organizations, and public food and health organizations (e.g., However, while Design Thinking has attracted business scholars focusing on innovation management (e.g., Liedtka, 2014; Norman and Verganti, 2014; Seidel and Fixson, 2013), the same is not the case within the food marketing and transformative consumer research. This special issue contributes to marketing food research by discussing how Design Thinking can help to design innovative food experiences which are healthy, satisfying, and pleasurable.

The integration of a Food Design Thinking approach has the potential to foster cost-effective, impactful food educational programs, and food innovation that can actually be implemented and utilized. Rather than providing an alternative to science as a way to creating knowledge, Food Design Thinking provides a complementary approach to transform food-marketing research. This special issue will define Food Design Thinking and what is its contribution to FWB. It also describes how Design Thinking differs from the traditional way of thinking within food services and industry and discusses the likely outcome of Design Thinking to achieving food innovation for consumer well-being.

Furthermore, in this special issue, we aim to discuss and exemplify how Design Thinking can contribute to innovation in the food industry to achieve well-being based on three main aspects that capture the core of this new food approach: consumer empathy, visualization and rapid prototyping, and collaboration. Accordingly, an integrated team of Design Thinking scholars, designers, consumer behavior researchers, community members and community partner leadership – each bringing different areas of expertise and different sets of skills – has greater potential to address food issues than any one of these groups working alone. We hope this special issue will gather researchers and business people to allow conceptualizing Design Thinking Approach for innovative food consumption experiences and individual and collective well-being.

In line with the focus of EJM, we welcome papers with quantitative and qualitative methodologies or other alternative qualitative techniques used off and online. All disciplinary, theoretical (e.g., practice theory, sociological of food theory, anthropology of food, etc.) and methodological perspectives are welcomed. We aim to stimulate research in three key areas:

  • Shedding new perspectives on the food design thinking, food well-being, and the challenges and opportunities for marketers and the food and restaurant industries;
  • Examining constraints and obstacles related to the design of health food products and places;
  • Finally, we also welcome novel empirical and conceptual research that challenges our understanding of food design thinking and its contribution to food health as well as individual and social well-being.

The research of Wided Batat.


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