I recently attended the Food & Drinks trends and innovation conference in London, where we heard from 20 speakers within the industry, gaining powerful insight into marketing strategies, turning innovation into profit and how to leverage these changes through communications and effective campaigns.
Whilst the speakers were diverse, ranging from head of shopper marketing at Dairy Crest, through to head of food at Harrods there were key themes and trends that nearly all speakers kept referring to.
Innovation was top of the agenda. NPD and its importance to a brand, and the retailer is pivotal. However, the more successful brands who had successfully leveraged NPD were the ones who has used their data and research effectively. Many speakers spoke of the importance of not just solely using data, but the importance of knowing your brand and your customer, delve deeper into what they want from new products and developing products that deliver their needs (whilst satisfying the retailer and buyer too!).
Quality was another key theme. Whilst there are signs the UK is coming out of recession, money is still very much something that is at the forefront of peoples minds when it comes to food and drink. Whether this applies to dining out, or simply how people approach their weekly shop. Even at the height of recession people still wanted to, and continued to eat out, a luxury that you would assume would be quick to disappear. However, the interesting change came in the way people ate out. Gastro pubs saw, and continue to see great results, with people still wanting their usual pie and chips, but cooked beautifully with great ingredients, quality is assumed as standard. We’ve also seen a rise of ‘eating zones’. Eateries that are neither restaurants, pubs, or fast food. For example, Nando’s and YoSushi – is this fast food or a restaurant experience? The lines are blurring.

Trust was also a subject that was peppered throughout the talks. We are in a time where consumers have a high level of distrust. This doesn’t just apply to food, but reflects our attitude to politics, government and so on. However, the 2013 horse meat scandal proved detrimental to how people viewed our supermarkets. Margaret McSorley Walker, senior innovations manager at ASDA spoke of how the retailer has had to change and react to compensate for this trust, changing their packaging and even supply change in some instances to regain the pivotal trust needed from their shopper.

And finally, the trend that is practically impossible to avoid, and looks like it’s here to stay is BBQ. All people really want at the moment is burgers and beer! Hard to walk down any high street in a major city and avoid at least 2 new trendy burger joints, each one claiming to sell the ultimate burger experience. ASDA spoke of how they leveraged this trend, developing their BBQ pulled pork ready meal that went on to be awarded product of the year, a great and surprising achievement for a new ready meal. So there you have it, a perfect example of a brand using data and creating a product that answered a need of their shopper and consumer and is bang on trend, it’s as simple as that.

Helen Priestley
Account Manager