patrick finlay - Bredgethorne

Patrick Finlay, Marketing & Strategy Director, Bridgethorne, discusses the dramatic growth in the market for “free from” products, including those that are gluten or dairy free, which provides further evidence that our increasingly health conscious eating habits are putting the shopper in a position of increasing power and influence in the retail and FMCG market.

‘Free from’ market  now a bigger category than tea and instant coffee

New Nielsen data showed that shoppers are buying more free from products, with sales up +17% in January. The choice available in larger supermarkets also encouraged shoppers to further experiment and add new products to their baskets. The ‘free from’ market is now a bigger category than instant coffee and around 40% bigger than tea. In addition, shoppers spent more than £900m on fresh fruit and vegetables, over £27m more than the same time last year, as sales of broccoli increased (+15%), as did beetroot (+14%), Brazil nuts (+13%) and blueberries (+10%).

The move towards a healthier diet is also, in part, behind the growth in veganism in the UK. It is now estimated that more than 3.5 million British people now identify as vegans, meaning 7% of the population are now adopting a non-animal product lifestyle. Of those, according to Mintel, a total of 49% were interested in cutting down on their meat consumption for health reasons.

The upshot of this is that tastes and demands continue to put the shopper in the box seat in the retail and FMCG market. The constant promotion of the benefit of embracing a healthier diet is clearly feeding through to the shopper. This places the onus on suppliers not only to meet this demand but also to understand it.

Shoppers demand choice and independence

Our changing eating habits, including our increasing enthusiasm for healthier options, shows how shoppers are demanding more choice and independence. This has resulted in a power shift away from the major brands and suppliers, who used to hold all the aces, through the major retail multiples and now to the shopper. Suppliers need to understand that and use it to inform their business models, from marketing and activation to new product development.

Consumers and shoppers are not one and the same. The shopper will likely be influenced by their consumers but they are the ones who will ultimately make the purchasing decision whether in-store or online. Understanding what drives the shopper, the missions they take when they buy and the factors that influence their purchasing decisions of gluten-free or dairy-free items or any other product is vital.

So effective research is essential in assisting our clients in securing the insights they need into shopper behaviour and to provide a deep understanding of their particular target categories. Bridgethorne’s shopper research team helps clients learn about their shoppers and their shopping journeys; using this insight to increase the chances of converting intent into purchase at the point of sale.

Focus Magazine

This article appears in Issue 1 of Ceuta’s Focus Magazine. Read the rest of the magazine here: