Exclusive consumer research for The Grocer shows younger generations’ views of canned foods are worsening. So, what can brands do to entice them?

One of our 10 Things You Need To Know About… Canned Goods

Canned food isn’t cool; at least, that’s what young Brits think. Only a quarter of people aged 16-24 believe ‘there’s nothing wrong with canned food, it’s a great way to get fruit & veg’ compared with half of Brits aged 55+, exclusive research for The Grocer reveals.

Canned’s approval rating overall has dropped significantly from one year ago when half of Brits agreed with the statement. Now only 38% do, according to Harris Interactive’s poll.

Not surprisingly, younger consumers tuck into canned beans, soup and the like far less often than older generations. So, what can brands do to change this? How can they entice consumers under 40 to pick up a can or two as part of their shopping?

Many are turning to NPD and big budget media campaigns in the hope of driving sales and engaging with younger audiences. Heinz launched a £10.6m campaign called Love Soup in October 2016 with the aim of tugging on Brits’ emotional connection to soup.

Meanwhile, Beanz has been playing to its health credentials. “We have identified that health and natural are key considerations for our younger consumers, therefore we have adapted our goodness metrics through communication of the ‘Naturally high in protein, naturally high in fibre and naturally low in fat’ message, which have proved effective claims when appealing to this audience,” explains Francesca Mattiussi, senior brand manager, Beanz.

The brand also rolled out new additions to its beans and pulses range with Heinz Creationz – a four-strong range including Mexican Beanz and Tagine Chickpeas.

Princes also spiced up its portfolio with Brazilian and Mexican variants added to its Limited Edition mackerel range. “We have undertaken significant activity across a range of areas to support the category and ensure that our brands appeal to younger audiences. This includes reinvigorating the category with NPD launches and aligning our ranges with key consumer trends such as scratch cooking,” says Neil Brownbill, marketing director for Princes.

Cirio, meanwhile, has focused on its existing range keen to highlight its natural credentials. “Younger consumers are very aware of potential additives and hidden sugar levels in canned foods, so again it’s important to create awareness that products such as Cirio’s contain naturally occurring sugars,” sys Diego Pariotti, joint MD of the brand’s UK operations.

Natural is also a key message for canned fruit brand Del Monte. “Consumers who don’t regularly buy canned fruit have been conditioned to see fresh fruit as best and to seek this out wherever possible,” believes Martin Tilney, commercial director UK & Ireland, Del Monte Europe.

It’s hoping to change this with the help of social media by partnering with key food and family bloggers to generate recipes to appeal to two core needs for canned fruit: comfort and health.

“A high proportion of older consumers associate canned fruit with nostalgia and for most this is positive and associated with comfort and tradition,” adds Tilney. This is something Del Monte aims to translate to a younger generation. “We have two key growth platforms: one about nurturing nostalgia and contemporising traditional usage, such as for trifles and puddings, and second, to encourage usage beyond the dessert, for uses such as smoothies, breakfast and savoury recipes.”

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