Food and Drink Trends and Innovation 2015 roundup

Emma Drew, Senior Account manager shares highlights from the Food and Drink Trends and Innovation Conference 2015

Innovation is a dynamic term which can come under many different guises. At last week’s Food and Drink Trends and Innovation Conference we saw brands such as Coca Cola, Heinz, Kerry Foods, ASDA and Mondelēz give a wide ranging interpretation of how innovation is integrated into their internal processes and thinking. It was a clear reminder that even with such iconic products such as Coca Cola and Cadbury’s in your portfolio, resting on your laurels is not an option – pushing traditional beliefs and practises through innovation is still key to keep ahead of the trends and retain relevancy for consumers. In fact, a number of well-worn if not notorious companies such as Kodak (totally missing the move to digital photography) and Blockbusters (who passed up the chance to buy Netflix the early 2000’s) who have all but disappeared from our daily lives were presented as a warning to us all!

Here is my top 5 run down of insights from the day, some inspirational ideas, case studies and challenges to the traditional approaches of shopper and digital marketing. More questions than answers but some thought starters nonetheless.

1. Finding out what consumers really think

Going back to basics was the take out from the day for consumer insight; who are the people buying our products, who are the people consuming them and what do they really think. Heinz showcased their innovative collaboration platform Club 57 where consumers work in an honest partnership with Heinz, IGLO (Bird’s Eye) presented how consumer concerns about sustainability drives NPD and Kerry Foods used their Fridge Raiders campaign to highlight their revised strategy to speak to their teen consumers, not mum shoppers with extremely positive sales results. Vlogger Fridge Raider Video can be seen here:

2. Social Influencers – who are they and why should brands be taking notice?

Asda, Betty’s Tea Room’s and Kerry foods all highlighted examples of collaboration with social influencers on social media; the biggest success stories coming from Vlogger partnerships where brand campaign ideas were translated into tangible entertaining content through the power of Vloggers. While this isn’t a new trend for the wider world, a show of hands in the room revealed that the majority of people had never watched a Vlogger video before while the Senior Director Marketing Innovation & Revenue, Dom Burch at ASDA could name them by heart. ASDA presented their launch of the ‘Mum’s Eye’ channel with the Vlogger Zoella which drove over 1 million hits (and counting) on a cupcake video, driving sales in-store and genuine conversation between consumers Video here:

3. Food is the NEW trend

Haymarket Research presented their insights into the Foodie Generation, the millennial generation of young adults who are developing their genuine obsession with food through platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. This generation are photographing and sharing their meals, searching for recipe inspiration and seeking out new ingredients all the time – Wholefoods, for example, was universally held up as their favourite retailer – but are brands and retailers taking advantage of this natural behaviour? While it’s clear this group LOVES food, are any brands or retailers thinking about targeting shoppers beyond the traditional 2.4 family? How can brands genuinely inspire with their products and ingredients to tap into this trend?

4. Toeing the line between disruptive and just annoying

There is a line between on-point targeting which can successfully convert browsing into sales, and then there is bombarding consumers with unwanted messaging when they just want to be left in peace to finish their weekly shop. Mobile Geo-targeting was one example of physically disruptive targeting presented by Simon Miles, Coca Cola where a timely World Cup match and a geo-targeted text messages successfully drove sales of a larger format SKU in-stores at Tesco – using Dunhumby data to target family shoppers likely to be shopping for a weekend BBQ. Success was the right message at the right time. But there were words of caution from ASDA’s Dom Burch. Mindfulness of the average shopper experience means that disruption in their journey around store (whether online or in-store) has to play a useful or entertaining role to add value. ASDA gave examples on guiding shoppers to the best offers based on their shopping history using prompted text alerts, interactive 3D floor stickers to entertain children in-aisle or using their reams of data to get the right products displayed to the right shoppers first time, instead of the usual reams of pages. Not just a means of randomly bombarding shoppers, our role is to give technology and data a function in the shopper journey to drive relevancy, value and ultimately purchase.

And Finally…
The most fun presentation of the day came from Neville Moon, head of innovation at Aryzta Bakeries Europe who gave a simple but delicious run down of the next big food trends coming out the food market and street food industry burgeoning across the UK. Peruvian, Korean and local produce where all hailed as the next BIG thing which showed the power of independent grass root businesses to start affecting bigger FMCG retail trends – ceviche might be coming to a supermarket near you sooner than you think…

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