2018 has well and truly kicked off. With consumers being bombarded with information, now more than ever is the time to know your audience in order to cut through the noise. Our Head of Insight Sam Bannister gives his thoughts on upcoming trends, and how Brass Insight can help you stay ahead of the game.

Consumer demand for “full disclosure” will grow

2017 saw an increase in general consumer distrust, placing pressure on retailers and manufacturers to offer full and transparent disclosure on their products. How, when, and where food and drink is being made, produced or grown… right down to who’s doing the growing or producing.

This need for reassurance saw increased use of environmental, ethical, and natural claims; in a bid to win consumer trust. The looming sugar tax, and the hysteria surrounding it (the scramble for ‘original’ Irn Bru), is likely to amplify these concerns, and increase the scrutiny under which consumers place food and drink labelling.

How close are you to your consumers? Our insight team can help you understand the claims and characteristics of brands that will help get your products in their basket.

Self-care will be high on the agenda

Modern life can be tough… a frantic pace, constant connectivity, uncertain political climate… the list goes on. Consumers are looking for ways to escape the negativity. As part of this escapism, they are ramping up on self-care – using food and drink as an integral element of their health and wellbeing. The rise of “plant based” is a great example of this rise in consumer consciousness.

Individual in its nature, wellbeing requires a variety of formats, ingredients, flavour combinations and portion sizing. Consumers will want brands to make their dedication to the cause as easy as possible in 2018.

How is your range perceived under this self-care spotlight? How can you leverage your brand characteristics to come out on top? Perhaps innovation is required to maximise the opportunity?

Indulge me a little…

A big part of well-being is feeling happy, right? And consumers still want to be able to indulge themselves!
Unique methods of “crafting”, limited addition flavours, exclusive packaging, or even the addition of superfoods… all ways in which 2017 made indulgence permissible.

Lidl’s new range of gin was a big winner this Christmas; neatly tying together a sense of intrigue, artisanal touches, and flavour combination (with a price incentive thrown in for good mix). This indulgence trend is likely to become even more prevalent in 2018.

Take this opportunity to research and improve your range, and benchmark your brand for satisfaction. Our insight team can help you on that journey. From qualitative concept ideation and development, to robust statistical trade-off of product benefits, we can develop an approach to help your brand innovate with confidence.

But I still want great value for money

Food price inflation is expected to outstrip wage increases throughout the next 12 months. Household budgets remain squeezed and, in their pursuit of wellbeing and indulgence, consumers will remain hungry for great value.
Value, as always, is derived from price and perceptions of quality.

Do you know what consumers really seek in value from your brand? The tacit needs, rather than what they are able to clearly express. A mobile ethnographic approach to research will help you uncover the unknown unknowns – What could tip the balance in the seconds that consumers spend making that at-fixture decision.

A fantastic consumer experience is no longer desirable…

… it’s essential!

As technology helps to make shopping as effortless as possible, a new era of user experience has arrived. Consumers are primarily motivated by the potential to improve their life or make their life easier, and 2017 saw them trying out a variety of channels and technologies when shopping for food and drink. These included home delivery, subscription services, and automatic replenishment.

2018 will see consumers demand even more time, energy, effort saving solutions from brands, with great scope for efficiencies to be gained from interactions with smart applications, customised recommendations, cross category pairings, and resourceful delivery solutions.

It’s important to monitor the consumer journey that your customers take – how does it compare to that of your competitors? What perceptions of your brand does it drive? Brass Insight can help you with bespoke, innovative approaches to consumer experience testing, ensuring you remain on top of customer satisfaction and brand perception.

Techno-food shopping will really arrive!

The arrival of home-based assistants is ushering in a new way to buy our food and drink. Consumers can now get food delivered to their door by simply opening their mouth and asking Alexa…

With ownership of Amazon Echo products alone anticipated to reach 40% during 2018, this year is likely to see more and more brands embrace home-based assistants and artificial intelligence technology in order to make their products as accessible as possible.

It’s essential that brands find new and innovative ways to be part of a consumer’s consideration set. If, as could be expected, more and more FMCG purchases moves towards this channel, your brand must be top of mind at the point need… or you’ve probably already lost out.

Looking even further ahead – 193 million smart devices (fridges, washing machines, thermostats etc.) are expected to be shipped worldwide in 2020. This further strengthens the need to be top of mind as, by that point, auto-replenishment is a very real possibility.

Where does that leave the good old supermarket shelf? All indications suggest a more inspirational, exciting role for bricks and mortar stores – what role will your brand play in that?

And food-tech will continue to grow!

As the food-tech revolution continues to play out, don’t be surprised to see technology begin to disrupt the traditional food chain in 2018. Enterprising manufacturers are aiming to replace farms and factories with scientifically engineered ingredients or finished products.

Yes, we may be some way off a lab-grown dinner plate, but the potential impact of such emerging technology on the consumer mind-set cannot be ignored. Arguments exist that such technology could produce food that is more nutritious, more sustainable, less wasteful or impactful on the environment – all potentially compelling claims for the socially conscious and nutritionally aware consumer of 2018.

We can use innovative qualitative and quantitative approaches to help you understand how such developments in food and drink could impact on the consumer journey and, in turn, your brand.

Plastic (not) fantastic

Packaging format, recyclability and environmental impact debates will continue to rage in 2018. Towards the end of 2017, Blue Planet II really struck a chord with UK viewers on the topic of the impact of plastics relating to (and even entering) the food chain.

Over-packaging (and perceptions of unnecessary waste) have always been a consumer bug bear. However, could 2018 be the year when they really begin to re-evaluate how the products they buy are packaged?

At Brass, we offer a uniquely integrated approach to new packaging development – from concept ideation to store activation. Our insight will help you optimise your packaging to maximise success.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on 2018 – feel free to get in touch to discuss any challenges you may be facing.