Tapping into the latest consumer trends is a great way to boost business. But how do you know which trends are here to stay? Vhari Russell, founder of The Food Marketing Experts, explains… 


Vhari Russell

“This is the time of year when many are forecasting what the trends for 2021 will be and identifying tactics which will enable them to have a slice of the ‘predicted’ cake.

There are many differences between a trend and a fad. A trend has longevity and is predicted by many of the food and consumer research agencies prior to hitting the shelves. Trends are pinned on acknowledged and credible consumer research findings.

In contrast, a fad is short-lived, normally a craze, and certainly not a premise on which to build the marketing of your entire product range.

Fads can be used tactically, and on a more seasonal basis, as part of a short-term strategy to drive sales. They are normally associated with collective behaviour and therefore more about being in the right place at the right time with the right product. Fads require an immediate reaction, whereas a response to trends analysis should form the cornerstone of your marketing plans.

Fads can offer great cash cow opportunities but can be equally costly if you get it wrong

As a product developer or baker, it is important you do your homework to spot the difference. Monitor respected key industry data sources such as Mintel and Kantar and access reports from key organisations like The Food People, who have teams of contacts across the globe who are literally tasked with tracking down trends.

Also, be aware of what influencers and the media are focusing on. Being observant and listening carefully to what is going on around you – and what is happening further afield – can help you get ahead of competitors.

Fads can offer great cash cow opportunities but can be equally costly if you get it wrong. You can also be seen as a sheep rather than a leader if you are not careful.

Investing in new products, processes and ingredients takes time and this all comes down to research and knowing if there is a gap in the market and a market in the gap.

The product needs to be appealing, be eye-catching, and offer to stand out. Avoid me-too brands. You will also need to carefully consider the packaging solution and any POS requirements to help drive sales. Many consumers are now opting to buy products that are served or sold in greener packaging formats.

In light of the pandemic there is also an increased appetite for delivered services, so remember to consider shelf life, transportation methods, and whether you can fit the product through a letterbox. The online shopping trend has witnessed unprecedented growth and that is only likely to continue.

In short: fail to prepare, prepare to fail!”