Four key food trends for autumn/winter

How to drive seasonal product sales this autumn and winter

Whilst it may seem unusual to be thinking about autumn and winter during a summer heatwave that is exactly but that is exactly what is happening here at Link Communication. As an experiential marketing agency we are currently helping a wide range of FMCG clients plan their seasonal product marketing campaigns.

For many of our clients autumn and winter represent their peak selling period. As a consequence, we are busy crafting and creating new ways to get their brands noticed and drive product sales.

You see, when the clocks go back and the nights draw in people’s food consumption habits start to change. Warming casseroles and soups are back on the menu as shoppers look for something hearty, filling and satisfying.

The challenge this year will be to produce campaigns that engage audiences with very different buying motives and demonstrate how a single product can tick several different boxes without losing its’ identity or reason for being.

Working with consumers every day has provided Link with an unrivalled insight into consumer attitudes and helped uncover four key trends for this year. These trends will need to be on the radar of every brand marketing team as they look to maximise sales at their most important time of the year.

So what are the trends and how can brands leverage them? Read on to find out.

Trend 1, Comfort Food

We all need that little pick me up as the weather turns and the hats, gloves and scarfs are brought out once more. Often we will turn to old favourites or guilty pleasures as the perfect antidote to the colder darker days. Whether it is a pipping hot lasagne or a rich sticky toffee pudding with custard does not matter as long as it puts a smile on faces and helps lift spirits. Brands need to cultivate nostalgia and demonstrate that their products can engage people emotionally. Comfort food is as much about how it makes people feel and there is no better way of sharing that feeling than through personal experience.

Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate

When you talk about consuming something comforting what could be more appropriate than a cup of hot chocolate. To demonstrate the point we created and delivered a product sampling roadshow that included an igloo, snowmen and a fully converted ice cream van. This attention-grabbing nationwide campaign delivered over 100,000 samples to eager consumers on high streets, in office areas and at supermarkets and train stations. The campaign delivered a whopping 300% increase in sales, 60,000 new facebook fans and generated national media coverage 

Trend 2, Health & Wellbeing

Shoppers are increasingly conscious of the need for a well balanced and nutritious diet. Salt, sugar and calorie intake will be a consideration for many who want to ensure they are leading a healthy lifestyle. Of course, healthy today can cover a whole range of different things whether that be vegan, vegetarian, or gluten-free to name but a few. But be warned these consumers still expect great-tasting products and ingredients that are pleasurable and satisfying. New product launches seem to be at an all-time high so brand owners must ensure their product and its attributes stand out and get noticed.

Glorious Soup

A nationwide product sampling roadshow covering all major cities of the UK, over a 16-week tour schedule. Providing hot soup tasters at supermarkets, food festivals, train stations, high streets, universities and events. Our experiential sampling event area included a VW camper flatbed truck, converted into a mobile soup kitchen. A unique branded promotional vehicle designed, sourced, refurbished, customised, wrapped and taken on tour. Providing 100,000 samples and sharing the brand story helped Glorious to achieve category dominance in the fresh soup sector.

Trend 3, Convenience

The need for fast and easy mealtime solutions is always a priority for busy consumers. Whether they are living alone or in a family unit, hectic schedules demand a simple option for time-poor people. Consumers value ready, frozen and microwave meals because they provide a quick and much-needed answer. The challenge for many convenience brands is in addressing the quality concerns of consumers. Convenience products have historically struggled with pre-conceived ideas and negative perceptions.

Rustlers Gourmet Burgers

Perhaps the ultimate concept in convenience, a gourmet burger you can microwave. Simple, easy and very tasty whether you’re taking it for lunch at work or sticking them in the fridge for hungry children after school, three minutes and they are ready to eat. Our campaign to promote Rustlers Gourmet Burgers utilised three pop-up kitchens positioned in front of a total of 179 Tesco stores.

Each kitchen enabled the perfect preparation of samples and provided a demonstration of how easy the burgers were to cook. The campaign exceeded all expectations with 1200 samples being consumed and 315 unit sales per store visited average. After the campaign EPOS data showed that an incredible 10,400% uplift in sales had been achieved when compared to sales before the activity.

Trend 4, Good Value

Shoppers are always looking for good value, and balancing the equation of price, quality and personal preferences sits centrally to solving this problem. Being able to show how a product provides additional benefits besides its calorific content is essential in supporting a value proposition. The problem most brands face is that their product remains untested by the consumer and as a consequence its real value remains unknown. To ensure their value proposition is fully understood brands must get their products into the hands of consumers and actively encourage trial.

Lidl Supermarkets

The highlight of winter for many people is always going to be Christmas. So when the opportunity came along to work with Lidl Supermarkets and support their store opening program we jumped at the chance. Santa and his elves were recruited to help bring some festive cheer to proceedings and ensure shoppers were filled with a variety of seasonal product samples.

Are autumn and winter key selling periods for your brand?

Then perhaps it is time to think about how experiential product sampling could help keep you one step ahead of the competition.

Why not reach out and explore the positive impact experiential marketing and product sampling could deliver for your brand

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