25 Sep Factsheet 11: Fast Foodfax Trends
As one of the UK’s leading marketing research agencies, Cambridge Market Research has been carrying out comprehensive tests on the latest products to hit supermarket shelves for over thirty years. As a result, we’ve amassed a database of over 20,000 evaluations as part of our Fast Foodfax service, and we’re confident that we’ve tested every important new product introduced to the market since 1983.
We test hundreds of products a year, encompassing a huge range of the items available to shoppers around the UK, and monitor results for patterns and points of interest. In the first six months of 2015, we assessed a whopping 202 products, and noticed some clear trends appearing. Recent developments across the UK retail sector are inevitability having an impact on new product innovation, and there are already signs that 2015 is shaping up to be a year of change…
Brands are back
Following a dip over the last few years, early 2015 has seen a rise in the percentage of new branded product launches:
Is this because retailers are cutting back in order to hit aggressive pricing initiatives in the wake of Discounter activity, and in doing so are paving the way for new and existing brands to lead the way in terms of product innovation?
Highlights of products tested in January-June 2015
A continuing focus on wellbeing/lifestyle
The growth of ‘free from’ shows no signs of abating, and the quality just keeps on getting better. Soon we won’t be able to tell if a product is ‘free from’ at all.
This is a growth area for brands and own label. Check out our report on Tesco’s “moist” Finest Free From Carrot Cake, which was described by one tester as having a “good consistency, especially as it is gluten free”. Another popular ‘free from’ offering was M&S’s Made without Wheat Mini Coconut Macaroons, which scored in the top quartile of the Ambient Cakes/Pastries category with an impressive overall rating of 41 out of 50 – much higher than the category norm of 36!
Other branded sweet products are also matching or even surpassing their category norms. Mondelez’s popular Philadelphia Almond Layered Cheesecake was more than a match with others in the Cheesecakes category, with the gluten-free element being the icing on the cake.
Alternative grains also continue to edge into the mainstream.
Uncle Ben’s Pearl Wheat, Quinoa and Wholegrain did well during tests, achieving a score of 38 against a category norm of 34, and Waitrose’s Love Life Chicken Multigrain Soup with Green Speckled Lentils Red Quinoa & Amaranth Grain was also well received, scoring a respectable 30.
Coconut with everything but with varying success.
Even those that only showed niche appeal were more popular with younger testers: Innocent Coconut Water was a case in point, with a comparatively low score of 21 but an increased interest in buying amongst 18-34 year olds. A more mainstream option was The Coconut Collaborative Yogurt Alternative’s – Mango & Passion Fruit made with Coconut Milk, which achieved a score of 39 (compared with a category norm of 42).
Learning from the past as retro concepts make a comeback.
Some of the products we’ve assessed so far this year haven’t been as innovative as they might first appear. For example, Aldi’s Carlos Topped Baguettes were tested this month at a cost of 69p for 250g – even cheaper than the Findus French Bread Pizza that was first tested through Fast Foodfax in 1987 @ 64p for 184g. A very similar product to Tryton Foods ‘new’ Chunky Roasting Vegetables was first seen in 2008 with the launch of Aunt Bessie’s Roast Mix.
Something for everyone in the form of selection packs
Brands have shown that variety can be the spice of life, with a range of new launches across various categories, from Kellogg’s Krave Choco Roulette to Walker’s Mix Up Snacks Mix, both of which went down very well with testers. Another popular product was The Laughing Cow’s Mini Cravings pack of snack cubes in 3 flavours, which managed to achieve a maximum score and was described as offering a “lovely selection of flavours”.
Other themes to watch out for…
We’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of manufacturers who choose to add value by highlighting the cooking method of their product; we’ve seen ‘pulled’ everything from pork to duck. Our testers were particularly impressed by Tesco’s highly innovative Pulled Lamb with Garlic Mayo and Chilli Sauce, which scored 41 (smashing the norm of 36) when it was tested this month. ‘Slow cooking’ has also proved to be a welcome antidote to mass production.
Street foods have been adding novelty to the handheld snack category – CP Foods UK Taste Inc Bangkok Street Noodles with Chicken set a new maximum for the category with a score of 45 (compared to the previous maximum of 42). Others are bound to follow – watch this space!
Please visit our product reports section for more details about all the product tests highlighted and to see how Fast Foodfax can benefit your business.