Like Cinderella, this category languishes in the parlour, while consumers are asking to take it to the ball Bacon has an aspirational element and is seen as healthier than steak or fast food. Yet in store the fixture fails because it is dull. "Shoppers feel passionately about bacon outside the store and when they get to the aisle, it's about as exciting as the washing powder fixture," says Ian Hughes. Hughes, who was talking to The Grocer just before he left his job as trade marketing manager with the DMB, discounts bogofs and extra free volume as tinkering with the fixture. "They do nothing after the 15% lift during the life of a promotion. You need an overall strategy for bacon which links across categories." Hughes' remedies are simple: reduce the number of lines to a minimum across three basic ranges ­ premium, everyday eight-rasher packs and value; tell consumers about the existing colour coding ­ and each multiple should strive to differentiate its offer. DMB research found the duplication of lines across the fixture using the nationalities as sub-brands raises the fog level in the fixture. Own label extra trim back bacon is marketed as a healthy option in many fixtures. But a likely reason for listing it is to give the retailer greater leverage in price talks with brand owners. "Why not just stock a recognised extra trim brand and sell it at a better price? Who's kidding who?," says Hughes. Bacon is perceived to be healthier than steak or fast foods, is bought as an indulgence and lends itself to the trends of snacking and grazing, grilling and microwaving. Hughes believes the challenge of ethnic ready meals or recipes will force product development on the category. "Suppliers will gain once they come up with a product that breaks the mould," he says. - Hughes is marketing director of Key Country Foods. {{FOCUS SPECIALS }}