As we fast approach the middle of January, we asked our MD – Alicia – for her predictions on this year’s food and drink trends…
2017 is going to be a hotly anticipated year for all, as we begin to observe how the seemingly unlikely events of 2016 play out. The Brexit referendum result baffled many of us, and Trump’s triumph probably baffled him more than any one else. The only thing certain is that we are knee deep in a period of change and uncertainty, but what does this mean for the world of grocery and retail?
Looking forward to next year, the three key trends that I see emerging, and/or gaining momentum, are health and wellbeing, convenience through connectivity and further product-led Brexit scaremongering.
So, to kick off – health and wellbeing
Healthy is the new premium. And today when we refer to health, the understanding is one of holistic wellbeing – body AND mind. Whilst the healthier option used to be perceived as beige and boring, healthy is now the new tasty.
Healthier cooking techniques from steaming to sous vide are gaining a foothold in the mainstream. But consumers are not just preparing food in a healthier way; they are selecting “healthier” ingredients. Free-from ranges, once resigned to a small end of aisle fixture, are growing and I imagine this is set to continue. At Stir PR, we have seen clients such as luxury ice cream brand Mövenpick launch a lactose free product this year. What’s more, Mintel forecasts the free from category will be worth £673 million by 2020.
Alcohol sales are a key indicator of a shift to healthier living. UK alcohol volume sales have dropped by almost 10% in the past five years, with the trend being particularly apparent amongst young drinkers. The percentage of 18-24 year olds who have drunk alcohol in the past week has dropped from 60% in 2005 to 48% today. As an agency with a number of alcohol brands, are we worried? Not at all. Effective marketing and communications will become even more important for brands looking to gain and maintain market share.
Over the last couple of years, the adult soft drink market has opened up as a result of this shift in consumer imbibing behaviour. However, alcohol alternatives have to date, on the whole, been high in (the other dirty word!) sugar. In 2017, I predict growth in the flavoured waters category (still and perhaps sparkling more so), with a few existing brands extending ranges in the multiple and convenience channels (watch this space).
However, perhaps less expected will be the emergence of a new type of adult soft drink, led by the launch of the first non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip. A British start-up, Seedlip is being taken so seriously by the alcohol industry, that in July it was announced, that alcohol giant Diageo had invested in return for a minority stake – the first time in its 250 plus years of trading that the company has invested in a non-alcoholic brand.
Seedlip describes itself as the first alcohol free spirit, which is also sugar free and boasts no artificial ingredients. The bar has been set!
Next up, convenience through connectivity.
One word here – Amazon. Another couple of words…Black Mirror. Anyone who has watched the latest series from Charlie Booker will have felt uncomfortable at the realisation that the dystopian world he depicts in his “fictional” series, is a little too close for comfort. The darker side of a world where incredible digital connection leads only to increased human isolation. Where loved ones are brought back from the dead through advanced robot technology and everyone effectively has an uber-esque rating, determining the type of job they can have, to the price they must pay for goods.
Futuristic thinking? Perhaps not!
In 2013, the Hive launched into the market. We can now control our heating, lighting and alarm systems from the other side of the world. We were made aware that we could buy a fridge that would re-order milk when we were about to run out, but I don’t think anyone actually knew anyone who owned one. HOWEVER, with the introduction of the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Dash button, “futuristic” technology is now tapping into platforms that are already a well-oiled part of our daily lives.
2016 was the year Amazon announced its entry into the grocery market with Amazon Fresh. Alongside this, the Echo can now collate lists of groceries for the weekly shop as and when we think of them, wandering around the house, reading a book, singing in the shower, if you so wish, all by simply addressing the charming Alexa. Amazon is not just giving retailers a run for their money – they are changing how consumers shop. And I think consumers are ready and willing to be changed.
Courier, an agency, media publication and consultancy that reports on modern business and start up culture, identifies Amazon as one of its nine “Gods”. These Gods are businesses that own the category in which they operate and have now infiltrated categories outside of that. They are also affecting broader infrastructure. Enter Amazon’s latest scheme – delivery by Drone!
2017 will see consumers adopt connected living. Brand driven development of further dash buttons and a competing of multiple retailers in and outside of the grocery sector to develop services and drive convenience for consumers will see connected living become as embedded in our day to day, as the brushing our teeth.
Finally, it couldn’t be a 2017 trend-forecasting piece without mentioning the B word! Less a prediction and more a thought, but Brexit scaremongering will undoubtedly continue apace; it is more a question of which product will be next in the firing line? First there was widespread fear around a Marmite shortage, and then there was outcry as the Toblerone thinned down before our eyes. As the UK shift from globalisation to economic nationalism gathers pace, what other product changes lay in store?
Image sourced from LinkedIn; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130820132131-758147-the-future-of-work