Those that succeed in the food business are those that don’t just know their consumers, but connect with them too.
Teresa Wickham, chief executive of TWA Communications pointed to Gary Rhodes’ frozen restaurant-quality meals as an example of getting it wrong, at the Egg and Poultry Industry Conference.
“There was nothing wrong with the product, in fact it was good. It was that consumers did not associate frozen food with high quality, premium products. It was ahead of its time.”
Looking ahead to 2010, consumers are heading into uncharted territory. Consumers face many new pressures including increasing unemployment, increased tax rates, higher energy prices, low wage growth and selective credit conditions.
The result, she believes, is the rise of the “value conscious consumer”.
“We have already seen the impact of the credit crunch, with people going for value and premium lines. For example, they will buy ‘Taste the Difference’ mince and then use a ‘Basics’ tin of tomatoes in the same dish. They are mixing and matching to get value.”
Another change is the move to more home cooking. She cited Sainsbury’s as a good example of tapping into this trend with its key themes.
Its first theme is to get the nation cooking by handing out 85m “Try Tip” cards. Then there is the “Feed Your Family For a Fiver” initiative.
Another theme is its “Love your Leftovers.” Consumers have been shocked by how much food we waste and the associated cost and implications for the environment.
All these themes deliver the retailer’s value message, targeting the value conscious consumer.