There’s been so much talk about value-driving that I can’t help but think we will start to see a serious counter-move back to quality, which will result in a surge of premium offerings emerging over the coming year.
Why? chicken, horse, fat and sugar scares are the talk of the town each week. Broadsheet pages are packed with one food baddie after another. I think consumers have subliminally been taking stock and are deciding to trade up when they can.
Don’t get me wrong, they will still be putting safe, value choices in their baskets, but balancing those out much more with better quality food and drink they can trust is honest, made with fewer ingredients and looks like someone actually cares about it.
The need is definitely there. Local bake-offs, foodie TV chefs, and the free-from category growing up to be seen as better-quality food are all factors helping our nation choose and appreciate better-quality food. Great news.
So how are some dimensions of premium changing? Aldi and Lidl are doing premium in a non-traditional way with their superbly selected premium deals. You can buy a cured and aged Iberico ham or olive oil in Aldi, and experience the difference in quality - so you go back for more. Interesting how they are managing to do premium well, alongside such a value offer.
‘Premium-ness’ needs a shake-up both at brand and retailer level”
Think also of the successes of new challenger brands, which have been setting the pace to transform perceptions of what is standard or acceptable versus what quality premium food and drink should look and taste like. I instantly move to the brands who have passion, individuality and personality. Higgidy and Charlie Bigham’s in pastry, Tyrrells in crisps, Nakd in cereal bars, Dorset Cereals in cereals, Gü (in its pioneering phase), Fever-Tree in mixers, The Collective in dairy. These brands have such a significant difference to the quality and taste of what we expect in these categories. They also have a feelgood factor that is far more emotional than just about being physically more premium.
‘Premium-ness’ in food and drink needs a shake-up both at a branded and retailer brand level. So many categories are missing out. Retailer premium brands need a rethink beyond just sticking a ‘superlative’ taste descriptor as a sub-brand on pack to set them apart from the middle and lower tiers. ‘Premium-ness’ in an emotional space, for example, could be about unexpected user experience and delight in the offering. Why couldn’t a retailer own a premium cross-category personality brand? Entrepreneurs and big blue chips should be seriously evaluating the neglected categories where a premium angle could bring real value, growth and margin.
Claire Nuttall is founding partner of Thrive