With obvious recent shifts in market conditions and consumer behaviour, disruption is compelling the food industry to rethink the way it delivers; pressing fast-forward on a host of category initiatives, will unlock an exciting new era of opportunity.
In the food sector and beyond, there will be growth in people buying and wanting brands that reflect their world and their values. The actions of brands today will shape buying decisions in the future.
As people seek comfort and steadiness in turbulent times, now more than ever the reputation of a company as a whole will have to be steeped in their good deeds. Whilst many brands are taking the time to evaluate the impact of the last eighteen months, we feel that businesses need to develop, accelerate and fast-track new initiatives that pre-empt the new era.
Brands that cherish values such as responsibility, community, fairness, equality and solidarity, will thrive. How can this be enhanced and developed further to ensure the world and the principles they are portraying reflect consumers new realities?
In the first 6 months of lockdown we saw that millions of people had ordered a vegetable box, had ordered direct from a farm for the first time or had returned to their community butcher or grocer. Box scheme operators like Abel & Cole reported an unprecedented demand. Schemes that allow people to order direct from local farms, have reportedly quadrupled in some regions since the pandemic began. Farms to Feed Us is a British not-for-profit organisation that is helping farmers, fishers and other food producers quickly pivot to a consumer-facing model, with the ultimate goal of establishing a more sustainable food supply chain.
The pandemic nudged us to consider how we can build greater resilience into our food system, reducing the miles from 'farm to fork.' This could accelerate the growth of regenerative agriculture and food distribution.
Consumers gravitating to sustainable brands has grown, many question the very basis of our consumer-driven economy. Covid strengthened that introspection, and a yearning for less frequent, more mindful consumption. Environmental activists, ethical curators and inclusivity advocates have a voice. People want brands to help drive change, both by being a positive force in shaping culture and by working to make the future better.
We think there will be a new expectation, that will be not how quickly are you getting things to me, but what are the values that this brand or this product is providing in real and tangible ways in the marketplace. Pre Covid, consumers were already seeking out new and agile niche brands and were attracted to more distinctive, off-the-map neighbourhoods for the cultural scene and rewarding opportunities on offer. Now we have also seen a shift to support more local independent businesses.
A brand should be more than just selling ‘stuff’ it can create new spaces to promote self-care and well-being for its partners, producers, customers and community by adopting new and innovative kindness tools and initiatives in a less touch orientated space.
What if supermarkets….
Provided a platform that curates and sells brands that match their consumers beliefs in an effort to connect, promote and drive small independent local brands and producers that move culture forward.
Promoted a ‘Food as a force for good’ programme through a custom community-supported subscription box from local producers that reflect shifts in behaviour ushering in the retail model of the future (facilitated through delivery partnerships).
Introduced in-store and online technology to showcase, promote and educate ‘togetherness’ through engaging positive stories, 'supplier of the month' features and initiatives such as community events and brand partnerships curated to suit customer needs and ethics.
Involved customers in local initiatives such as harvest field trips, to mix and create their own concoctions (fragrance), tailored to their needs for personalised experience.
Offered mobile refill stations for package free solutions, that visit local market squares, stores or pre-booked home visits.
Delivered an honest and authentic concept considering new, sustainable, progressive and innovative materials that reflect a positive new era in packaging.
Offered a sense of place, through thoughtful design, a unique mix of brands, storytelling, revolving offers and cultural activities relevant to the neighbourhood; supporting local business and community.
Reinvented the ‘Market Square’ bringing together community. Always new ideas in food, drinks and entertainment, foodie ambassadors on hand to demo, explain and enthuse.
Created a place to experience new flavours and recipes by local foodpreneurs and artisan producers using authentic local ingredients.