We asked our Head of Market Insights, James Scott, to give us a taste of the consumer behaviour we can expect to see in 2013, drawing on the brilliant work of www.trendwatching.com and Baum+Whiteman.
1. DATA & INSIGHT
Now, as a man with a job title like Head of Market Insights I am inclined to big up my own line of work. But, I’m not the only one, as Dragon’s Den’s Theo Paphitis says: “A business is only as good as its data.”
Access to empirical, objective data makes decision making a whole lot easier. 2013 will see a seam of burgeoning consumer power: people know what they want and, increasingly, exactly how to get it – it’s down to you to get as much data from and about your customer and then bring the right experiences to life.
Customers are waking up to the value of their own data too. IBM surveyed more than 28,000 consumers in 2012, 75% said they would tell retailers about their media usage in exchange for more targeted and smarter shopping experiences.
Data can be great, but it’s useless if you cannot transform it into insight. That’s why we have recently launched www.tastetest.co.uk and an analysis tool called Bibendum Prospect – both of which are there to help our trade customers understand their customers.
Vivid is the name of Bibendum’s green team that looks after all our environmental initiatives. We are a green company not because of the PR benefits but because it is the right thing to do. That said, maybe we should be shouting about it more than we do.
69% of consumers said they are more likely to buy from a brand that talks publicly about its Corporate Social Responsibility, versus the 31% who would purchase from a brand which talks about its Corporate Social Responsibility mission and purpose (Cone Communications, October 2012).
That means if you are a responsible business, you really should tell people about it and make it a part of your core offering.
Oh, and if you’re not a responsible business, but you’re pretending to be: keep your eyes on lawsuits involving General Mills and Pepsico (amongst others) over genetically modified ingredients conflicting with “natural” claims; and lawsuits against Cabot, Yoplait and other ‘yoghurteers’ over whether their “Greek” yogurt constitutes the real thing. Transparency & authenticity are fast becoming ‘hygiene factors’ for both customers and brands.
3. PERSONALISE – IF YOU CAN’T: EMPOWER THE INDIVIDUAL
Online shopping can feel impersonal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By using Taste Test, Morrison’s has created a wine website that helps consumers choose something that is perfect for them. Don’t take our word for it, here’s what Econsultancy wrote: “Morrisons has created a great user experience that looks like it offers genuine value to its customers. The taste test…[is] a great way of adding a personal touch to product recommendations, which often seem quite arbitrary on ecommerce sites.”
Great, but how does that help me? Well, personalisation can be executed in many different ways – and not just online. Talde, a casual dining restaurant in Brooklyn, lines its bar with beakers of honey syrup, grenadine, vanilla syrup, mint syrup, Chinese five spice syrup, citrus bitters and maple bitters, all house-made. You want some, you use some. This isn’t the bar tender providing a personal touch, this is the consumer empowered to bespoke something themselves.
4. SERVICE – SPEED & Right First Time
There will be a backlash against the ‘No Reservations’ approach, not just in restaurants but also across other industries. EasyJet, for example are re-evaluating whether getting flyers to queue constantly provides the best customer service or is even efficient. If you’re in the On Trade some restaurants might have to re-evaluate whether making customers wait for 45 minutes in a rain-filled gutter is the best business model.
2013 will see a return to basic, plain old fashioned customer service. But many operators will go even further, seeking to bend over backwards to provide a perfect tailored experience for customers who are prepared to pay for it. Another airline is already at it, this time American Airlines introduced a service delivering passengers’ luggage direct to their home, business or hotel in less than four hours!
What could you do to add an extra level to your best customers’ experience?
5. GRAZING & SIPPING
Mini food is bigger than ever. As Baum+Whiteman note “if you can eat it with one hand or, better yet, two fingers, if you can dip it or share it then it’s is probably being tested in restaurant chains’ Research & Development kitchens.” The main course is not dead; but snacking is going to be bigger and better this year.
For drinks we’ve already seen the advent of wine flights – and these will continue to be huge in 2013 – as great ways to explore new flavours using smaller measure. Enomatic machines will continue to pop-up everywhere as the swanky “wine optic” allows a broader flavour experience. What price spirits tasting menus in 2013? Or a series of sipping ‘shots’ to allow you to try before you buy?
It’s alright, calm down, there’s no gym involved! Burger chains, smitten by the “gourmet” boom, are adding higher-priced items all the time. The challenge is too much trading up leaves a hole at the bottom of the market for someone to fill.
Operators are getting round this by cutting out products in the middle ground on their menu and focusing on premium offers at the top and genuinely value lines at the bottom. This is known as “dumb-belling” the menu.
We will see this trend everywhere in 2013 from restaurant menus, to drinks, to the chains we see fail on the High Street. The middle ground is increasingly becoming no man’s land.
7. PEOPLE POWER
Consumers trust people they know more than they trust clever advertising execs. You don’t say. Well I do actually, and more importantly, so do data leviathan Nielsen: 92% of consumers across 56 countries say they trust word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, as opposed to 47% who trust television, magazine and newspaper ads (Nielsen, April 2012). The fact that many of those personal recommendations take place on social media means every business need to be paying a lot more attention to what is being posted online.
8. ECONOMIES OF SCALE
This is not about more, more, more, this about delivering the best possible experience as quickly as possible. In beers, wines and spirits, storage will get bigger to make small serves faster. In the Off-Trade this could mean 50-100 litre Bag-In-Box dispensed into bottles you bring back time after time (don’t scoff, it works in Denmark and Germany). In the On-Trade it can be done to all manner of products.
Because hand-crafting high-end cocktails is slow and labour-intensive, we’re starting to see pre-made barrel-aged cocktails that merge adding quality with improving the basic economics of serving drinks. A five or six-litre batch of Negroni might be barrel-aged for a few weeks to create a new flavour experience (and a premium price tag) and then sell out in a day or two, with each glass taking only a few seconds to pour.
In the US Consumers are abandoning colas in droves, seeking “fresh” beverages or fruit-flavoured carbonates and smoothies that at least offer a vague illusion of health. According to Baum+Whiteman “Pepsi expect flavoured carbonated drinks to outsell colas by 2015.”
This trend isn’t entirely new. IGD, the global grocery intelligence collective, spotted this trend in the Russian Off-Trade environment as early as 2008 – so not everything comes out of Brooklyn first. The key thing is understanding that the seam of Health we discussed during 2010 & 2011 is still there, it’s just evolving.
10. ‘ADULT’ RTDs
There’s only so grown-up a milkshake can get; but still stick a slug of Golden Rum in it and you’ve got yourself something I wouldn’t want my children drinking. Many think Crabbies [more specifically John Halewood] has a lot to answer for. Personally, I doff my cap. ‘Drinks’ is all about delivering the right flavour at the right price. We all need different types of products to do different flavour jobs; and our work on taste test has shown that people of all levels of income drink at all points of the flavour spectrum.
Expect to see more Adult RTDs in 2013 as drink producers realise people want something that tastes great more than they want something that fits an old school definition of ‘wine’ or ‘cider’ or ‘whisky’.
If you are visiting us at our Annual Tasting next Wednesday 6 February for A Matter of Taste, you can find more future insights in Room 5 at The Brewery. Or follow us on twitter on #bibAT13