dash team at trade show

Source: Dash

The Dash team attended international trade show Expo West in the US

I was recently at international trade show Expo West in the US. The sheer scale of new products coming on to the market was immense. It also got me thinking. Despite choice being broader than ever, in many ways it’s never been harder to be a consumer.

In the supermarket or online, we can find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. One product has a low carbon footprint but is ultra-processed. Another is 100% organic, but the brand has a chequered history. The one that ticks all the boxes… is the most expensive. Goods that aren’t aligned with what we need and also with our values can be a big frustration.

Nowadays, most brands and manufacturers know they have some very driven consumers on their hands. This isn’t a bad thing: engaged customers are your strongest advocates.

But when consumers are overwhelmed by choice, brands run the risk of losing them if they don’t put themselves in their audience’s shoes. It’s crucial to recognise the issues that even one ill-considered product might pose – and to challenge yourself on whether what you’re doing is true to your (and your customers’) values.

A little while ago, we launched a unique no sugar or sweetener soda water range at Dash. It was – still is – a strong idea with a great-tasting product behind it. But it lost the focus that operating solely in seltzers had given us.

We put the range on the back burner. But not everyone is getting the balance between innovation and ‘new for the sake of new’ right.

Back in the US, one thing I noticed at the trade show was how product innovations from a couple of years ago had completely disappeared now. Not so long ago, everything was sweetener-filled for apparent health benefit. Not any more.

It illustrates the temptation for brands and founders to join a trend that seems to address consumer concerns, from health and wellbeing to affordability.

My advice would be that jumping on to short-term trends isn’t the way to change the way consumers feel about your brand for the better in the long term. Actually, it’ll hurt your reputation and your bottom line.

Your customers’ problems are your problems. And if you haven’t figured those out, well, you’ve got a problem.