I had a lovely reminder last month of why we love what we do.
At the International Food and Drink Event (IFE) in London Excel, I had expected to see a few familiar established brands and many start-ups operating on a small scale with home-made looking samples. I was interested to spot any innovations and emerging trends, but assumed I’d have a quick walk around and be back by lunch.
What I didn’t expect was to spend many hours there engrossed on the first day, so much so that I couldn’t wait to come back again the following day.
The big reason why, comes back to the heart of what we do at Labyrinth – the amazing people behind the brands.
The event was impressively huge across four big halls and once I arrived I quickly realised, it’s not about reviewing the exhibitors’ quality of branding, marketing collateral and product development. The highlight was to meet the people behind the brands, face to face – I absolutely loved hearing their stories, the passions of these individuals and teams who have poured their heart and soul into their businesses – and see how we may be able to share their passion to help them.
A few stand-out conversations for me were:
- The friendly sales manager at a confectionary group, by simply chatting and understanding a bit more of their role, we discovered we have a mutual friend and had even shared the dancefloor at their wedding a few years before.
- The owner/entrepreneur of a nut-based protein bar who had experienced a hard time obtain listings, he was appreciative to talk through his challenges and know he’s not alone.
- The inventor of a shot of tea in an aerosol can, speaking with such determination about eliminating tea bags for the environment.
- The Spice gift set owner whose mother hand-stitched Sari’s for the beautiful cloth packaging.
- The Senior Farms Manager at a premium, organic farm excitedly sharing the stats of all their animals and produce with such pride.
Having the opportunity to speak face to face when brands are in an open and chatty mindset was so interesting; I’m excited to follow up with my contacts and see how we can evolve their strategic marketing capabilities through mentoring, upskilling and empowering them to bring plans and their visions to life.
But to go back to my original objective as well as meeting the people behind the brands, here are the popular trends that caught my eye:
Water with benefits
Not a new category but in huge growth and many variations on what the added benefit is – added vitamins, protein, natural energy drink, flavoured sparkling, natural flavouring and added kick (Nix & Kix’s chilli pick me up is delicious). Several brands had launched sparkling cucumber and mint flavours – refreshingly on its own or as a mixer for gin (yum!)
Gluten free continues to be a growing lifestyle trend but I had differing and interesting conversations with some of these brands about the future of the Free From aisle. Should these products break free from the low traffic Free From bays in store and sit as sub categories in the mainstream aisle? One pudding brand was in favour but another was concerned that their consumers with genuine intolerances would have their shopping experience negatively disrupted if they cannot find the right alternative products.
According to The Economist, 2019 is the year veganism goes mainstream and an estimated 300,000 took part in veganuary earlier this year. This trend was evident at the IFE, with many drinks and snacks brands displaying their vegan, plant power credentials. Potentially the rise of veganism could be debated in the same way as Free From, whether to integrate into mainstream aisles or have dedicated bays as a destination in store.
I’m pleased to have connected with some of the people behind the brands since the event and an ongoing reminder that our consultancy always has people at the heart of everything we do – I can’t wait for the next trade event!
Want to learn more about Labyrinth?
- If your organisation needs help with long-term strategic planning, additional resource to bring your plans alive or the capability and training programmes to strengthen your team – Labyrinth Marketing can help.
- A great example of this, is how we helped pie manufacturer, Pukka, to develop a long-term strategy to define how they could step change their growth and meet ambitious 5-year targets. Read our Case Study here https://labyrinthmarketing.co.uk/who-weve-worked-with/case-study-pukka-pies-dev/
- Labyrinth are Best Agency Winners at the BOC Brilliance in Marketing awards 2018
Let’s get connected:
- Call Vicki Pledger
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org