Jul 2, 2019

Shelf Life

Welcome to this special edition of Shelf Life, the blog that comments on the new brands, new packaging designs and innovations popping up daily in supermarkets, worldwide.

Nowadays the blog lives on my Linked-In profile, but I thought it might be useful to collate the top 10 ‘liked’ posts from the past 3 months. Enjoy!

 

Life’s a beach

Mexican style Summer lagers now have craft competition too, which I witnessed first hand on Monday evening when dozens of sun-kissed Amsterdammers were being served bottles of ‘Biri’ with lime wedges. I’m sure Corona and Sol aren’t exactly quaking in their boots, but craft does offer consumers the choice of a more bespoke, local, authentic beach vibe that might just ‘catch a wave’.

 

Lighten up 

After a bit of an issue with the previous redesign and its dark green ‘medical’ look, Activia has reverted to a more familiar and natural shade. It’s also had a go at a stripped back ‘less is more’ aesthetic, with just the logo, a tentative arrow and some cut-out fruits. The regulator seems to have taken a bite out of the claim too – I’m really not sure what to expect from an ‘exclusive’ yoghurt culture. All of this probably looks great on the single cup, but for me these outers could have just a bit more swagger.

 

Heart in the right place

Having heard the story behind Tilda’s innovation strategy at the Food & Drink Trends & Innovations conference yesterday, I feel justified in giving the design system another pat on the back. New flavours, limited editions and whole new sub-range concepts fit consistently amongst the core ranges. They boost the sense of variety, and dial up taste and well-being. This doesn’t happen without a great deal of attention to detail, like the evocative and foody illustration style, and the single rice grains picked out in gloss relief. Still my favourite range identity.

 

Like a sore thumb

Quite literally a bolt from the blue, this new brand has nothing if not standout; especially with this unusually generous off-shelf display. But what is it? Turns out to be a range of cookies, breadsticks, popcorn and other snacky delights for kids. With a small portion size and ‘smart’ recipes they are definitely aiming at the ‘better for you’ lunchbox. This is a notoriously challenging positioning but full marks for avoiding the ‘goodie two shoes’ school of healthy but boring. However since my autopilot’s first instinct was to categorise these as household cleaning wipes, I think a bit less Maverick, and a bit more snack Category Entry Points would be advisable.

 

Showered in juice

Innocent’s new functional juices promise to invigorate, support, energise and protect. And possibly leave you refreshed and smelling great if you showered in them by mistake. Not sure if we’ll see them in a year’s time, functional codes are moving on

 

The eyes have it

Design for Petfood has been getting more and more ‘human’ for a long time, including the explosion of choice in brands, flavours (venison pâté, Rover?) and formats. I imagine actually buying a ‘tin of dog food’ is borderline socially unacceptable, especially in Waitrose. So whilst Lily’s Kitchen very much defines this trend with its ‘country cottage goodness’ approach, I was struck by the Crave brand’s proposition of ‘satisfy their nature’. Staring back at the slightly threatening wolf and leopard(?) images, I wondered what kind of relationship with their ‘pets’ its target shoppers might have? ‘Untamed’ I’m guessing, which makes it a bit niche; but if you really want to make this work, the bottom half of the pack fails to expand on this powerful emotion. An interesting idea half-finished.

 

The circus comes to town

Tony’s Chocolonely, the cause-based brand that totally disrupted the chocolate market in The Netherlands, has landed in the UK. Started by a Journalist and trumping boring old ‘Fairtrade’ with sensationalist ‘Slave-Free’, it totally integrates its message into the very fabric of the brand, starting a wave of tablet mould innovation. Its manifesto is printed on the inside of the wrapper, but the outside is a lesson in creating Distinctive Assets from scratch as a challenger brand. Throw away the rule book.

 

Let me spell it out…

The increasing influence of ‘How Brands Grow’ can be seen daily in the supermarket and online, as brands absorb its lessons and polish Distinctive Assets, improve Mental Availability and in this case focus more on Category Entry Points. But here we see the risk of putting these front and centre of packaging instead of using advertising to do this job. I recognise that Echo Falls isn’t for wine snobs, but I wonder if even the most price-conscious consumer would feel happy handing over one of these to a friend?

 

Digital breakfast

Breakfast has changed a lot over recent years, and if you shop in Waitrose you could be forgiven for thinking that 90% of the population eats just granola or muesli. Design codes reflect a very different set of consumer expectations to traditional ‘big box’ cereals, promoting good grains, seeds and other healthy inclusions. Time was when dorset cereals’ folksy cosmetic look was hugely disruptive (and kick-started the growth potential of the category); but nowadays some new tricks are needed to stand out. Kellogg’s adopts a kind of original grandfather story whilst Spoon’s new look is a lot more cheerful than its former neo-pharma expression. Troo promises gut-health benefits, but its brown paper bag and choice of symbolism makes my brain jump to bird seed. That’s what 90% of the population used to think muesli was….

 

Porridge power

Breakfast was always the meal to get right to set you up for a good day; so it’s not surprising to see this occasion innovating in health benefits and convenience formats. Quaker has really set out to own ‘oat health’ here, with numerous ranges in several categories boasting functional benefits. They’ve simplified the logo, adopted brown paper/card backdrops, and zoomed in on the nutrition story at the heart of the pack. All very rational, but it was the natural and healthy tone and feel of these matt finished darker boxes that really sold them to me. Who knew porridge could be this appealing!