Meet Laurentia Romaniuk, Instacart’s “A-maize-ing” 🌽 Trends Expert
Who doesn’t love trying out the latest and most innovative food trends to hit grocery store shelves? It’s fun to mix up what’s in your pantry and try out new products, especially as we’re all eating more at home. New grocery and household trends are constantly emerging, but where did they originate, how deeply are they influencing consumer behavior, and will they become a pantry staple or end up a fad? This is where Instacart’s new Trends Expert Laurentia Romaniuk comes in.
With an extensive background managing digital asset libraries and unearthing emerging trends, Laurentia has an undeniable passion for managing Instacart’s enormous catalog, which features 430 million grocery items, 5 billion individual points of data, and products from more than 400 retailers across North America. She works hand-in-hand with Instacart’s data science team and obsesses over understanding what customers want and need in order to help forecast the next food and lifestyle crazes.
Want to learn more about Laurentia and how she spots the up-and-coming trends that drive what we all put in our refrigerators and pantries? Read on and be sure to follow along on social at #InstacartInsights.
- What’s your favorite part about being Instacart’s Trends Expert?
As a self-proclaimed data-geek, I was drawn to work at Instacart so I could help manage the world’s largest online grocery catalog, and I’ve never looked back since joining the team five years ago. Trend-spotting is fascinating, and my favorite part about being the in-house Trends Expert is that I’m able to get knee-deep into data analysis and work side-by-side with an incredible data science team to uncover these findings, which is a huge part of the fun. I should also add that I love uncovering trends before they become mainstream, and during my time at Instacart, we’ve uncovered some big ones.
- That’s awesome. So, what is the coolest trend Instacart has uncovered to-date?
We’re constantly studying search and purchasing data to find new trends in order to help keep the company ahead of the curve. My two favorite trends that we spotted — before they became hugely popular — are LaCroix sparkling water and Halo Top ice cream. I like to eat fairly healthy foods, so I have to admit I’ve jumped on these bandwagons as well. Pamplemousse for the win!
- How do you actually go about identifying trends?
There are a couple things I always do in order to identify the latest trends. First up, I like to stay well-informed about what’s happening in the world. I read and absorb as much information and news as I can in order to understand consumer behavior. Second — and this might be shocking — but I actually make a trip to the grocery store about once a month to browse the shelves and see what new products are available. I love browsing the healthy alternative products, like Banza chickpea pasta and oat milk ice creams, since those are the types of products that seem to be taking off these days. From there, I partner with our in-house data science team to monitor search and purchase data. If we notice any spikes or unusual patterns, we then glean insights about why a product is trending based on what’s happening in the world and the latest consumer behaviors.
- What grocery or food trends are you seeing and loving right now?Since it’s summertime, I’m on board with the hard seltzer and hard kombucha craze. We recently reported on the fastest-growing brands in each category, which was a fun and delicious (ha) project. I’m also really intrigued with the plant-based proteins trend — think Impossible Foods and JUST Egg — which continues to gain lots of momentum as we head into the second half of the year. I also have my eye on alternative milk products and collagen-infused foods as well.
- When you’re not knee-deep in Instacart’s catalog, what interests you?
Well, I’m an energetic person with a play-to-win mindset, so I always need to be engaged in a competitive sport. These days, I’m all in on racing sailboats. I absolutely love learning about the physics behind it. Is my nerd showing? When I was growing up in Canada, I ski raced on a competitive team and also played Ultimate Frisbee for Team Canada. One year, my team even traveled to Italy for the World Championship!
- Finally, what grocery items are always in your Instacart order?
The first thing that’s always in my Instacart order is Chocolove chocolate bars. They have these wonderful poems from famous poets printed on the inside of the Chocolove packaging which always provides a nice two-for-one pick-me-up when I need it! The second must-have item that I’m always ordering is the famous Burma Superstar Tea Leaf Salad from Berkeley Bowl in Berkeley.
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