It's not too late to find out what we have to say!
Earlier this month we attended the Food & Drink Trends & Innovations conference in London. With a packed agenda, we met with representatives from across the industry to discuss the current hot topics, ranging from the latest meat free trends to an Asian iced tea containing cream cheese!
Impact Consumer’s Research Director, Stuart Grant, shared some pertinent findings from our recent Healthy Choices research: Is your next big success story already out there? If you missed this on the day or were not at the conference – you can download the full presentation along with Stuart’s notes here.
We heard from a number of industry experts on how to optimise the NPD process
Your NPD idea must ‘be possible, address a consumer need and fill a market gap’, according to Martin Benefer, Product Development Manager at Walgreen Boots Alliance.
‘And don’t make claims you don’t need to, it sounds obvious but if for example you’re making a product that consumers expect to be gluten free, there is no need to include that claim, it only creates confusion’. Here at Impact we know from a number of our studies that less is more when it comes to claims, so it is important to focus on what it is you really want to say.
Mark Cumming, Head of Stills & Innovation at Coca-Cola, who also owns a pesto start-up, shared his views from both a large and small company’s perspective.
He said Coca-Cola’s strategy is to invest in growing categories, for example with their recent venture into iced tea with Fuze Tea. His recommendations included:
- Identify new segments, and do targeted launches
- Have patience – start niche and scale it up
- Progress over perfection – it’s better to pursue an idea and refine it along the way than not pursue it at all
- Build the brand in an authentic way – an authentic heritage or story will engage consumers
‘Alongside these things, regardless of size of the company, engage with your consumers and listen to their feedback, be proud of your USP’. ‘Use quality ingredients, be transparent and authentic before placing your product in people’s hands’.
So, what are the latest industry trends?
Here are a few that came up repeatedly throughout the day:
Meat-free and free-from foods
Meat-free is definitely here to stay - consumers are increasingly turning to plant-based foods, based on an increased knowledge of ingredients.
Free-from products are also on the rise, with gluten free, alcohol free, and health foods such as protein snacks becoming more mainstream.
World food and food to go
Many speakers noted the rise of world foods, and the sheer quantity of choice available. Flatbreads in particular have been a recent success, offering a healthy alternative to traditional bread.
Also, world foods brands have started to extend into food to go, another category on the rise in recent years.
Kevin Vyse, Senior Packaging Technologist at M&S, talked about the latest packaging focus on sustainability and the challenge this is posing for traditionally successful brands. For example, in a relatively short time period (10 years), the Pringles can has gone from being considered innovative in terms of packaging shape and shelf stand out, to becoming a recycling nightmare, due to the combination of packaging materials used.
Another interesting example he shared was how the Coke bottle has evolved from glass to plastic, only to return to glass in an effort to encourage recycling.
But when it comes to what really motivates consumers, taste is, and always will be, king!
One of the key findings from Stuart’s presentation was that taste is king, and this theme emerged in many of the other sessions we attended on the day.
Damien Kennedy, Co-Founder of protein ice cream brand Wheyhey, told us how the company had tripled sales by changing their pink and blue packaging to an alternative centred on the product’s great taste.
‘Keep it simple, make it look good, but most importantly, make sure it tastes good.’