No room for mediocrity

Where the opportunities lie in food and beverage as brands continue to battle low growth in grocery.

With Oxfam’s recent wealth inequality in Australia report indicating that 22% Australia’s wealth is now concentrated in the hands of just 1% of its population, and with a housing downturn looming over the heads of Melbournites and Sydneysiders, more and more consumers are reviewing their shopping lists, carefully considering what they think is worth paying for.

Nielsen’s Q4 2018 Grocery E-Commerce Report shows that the grocery sector continues to suffer from low-growth. Brands that relied on being the ‘middle-of-the-road’ product of choice will continue to suffer, but there are still opportunities for brands to grow, it just happens to be at either end of the price spectrum.

Private label grocery brands continue to grow at over four times the rate of branded products, driven by Woolworths, Coles and ALDI’s core ranges but there is room for brands to take advantage of the trend. Price is not the only driving factor behind the choice to go private label. Private labels have spent the best part of the last decade quietly building their reputation through quality products that fulfil their simple brand promises with every purchase, all without ‘flashy’ advertising.

Undersold products are becoming refreshing and relatable for audiences. The recent trend has been to undersell through ‘debranding’ to simplify brand promises to consumers.

‘Frothy’ a new beer brand conceived of by the team at Fluid and sold on to CUB, based its roots in the idea of selling beer without relying on the typical claims of being ‘more refreshing, more authentic or more mysterious’. By continually over-promising, the beer category had been creating a gap between the expectations of consumers and the reality of what they were tasting. The project, completed by WhatCameNext, was launched with the tagline ‘Great Beer. No Bull.’ A brilliant summation of consumer desires.

At the other end of the spectrum, the rise of ultra-premium artisan brands is creating opportunities for consumers to splash out while still saving money on luxury experiences. 26% of consumers are willing to spend extra on meat and seafood, 23% on coffee and 20% on alcohol and spirits.

Australia’s unique geography and strong international brand have meant it’s been able to take advantage of a willingness to pay more for higher quality meats, better than many other markets. These consumers value the preparation and production methods of foods gracing their plates.

The narrative behind the product is more important than the product itself. Consumers want to know that special effort has gone in the cultivation and preparation of the foods they consume. They appreciate the difference between grass fed beef and grain fed beef, whether served in a burger or as a traditional sirloin cut.

The Vintage Beef Company – a Greenham brand – was developed with the value of the narrative firmly in mind. Traditionally, beef harvested from older breeding animals was relegated to lower-value markets, but The Vintage Beef Company celebrates the unique flavour qualities of older beef.

Taking advantage of chef’s desires for new and exciting products to experiment with, over 3 or 4 years, Greenham’s began work with Sydney’s famed Rockpool Bar & Grill and the Stokehouse, trialling cuts for dry-aging, where the product is subsequently offered as a house special – here today gone tomorrow – and treated as something ‘unique.’

The Vintage Beef Company’s products come in two grades: Reserva and Galiciana. The names’ playful Spanish origins, a homage to the Basque tradition of producing beef from older animals, often ten years of age, called Galician Beef. This Spanish connection is realised visually in hand-wrought graphics that exude notes of ‘the new luxury.’ Clean and natural but with a depth that reflects the grass-fed savoury flavour of the meat itself.

As the market continues to shift under the weight of changing consumer priorities, all brands will have to continue to find new ways to create growth in the new normal. In food sectors, faced with slow or limited growth, brands must continue to innovate to drive growth, delivering value where consumers are looking for it.

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