Changes


One of my fondest memories was when we found out my wife was pregnant for the first time.  We had a ‘two up, two down’ house in St Albans and we madly ran around all the rooms singing along to David Bowie’s classic song ‘Changes’ on repeat. It was a euphoric moment when anything really seemed possible as we naively and optimistically charged into parenthood.

Change at the moment seems to be coming at warp speed to food and drink. Whether it’s a long overdue focus on Black Lives Matter, or the looming Brexit ramifications, Coronavirus impacts or even the day to day twists and turns in commercial life at the moment – it’s all change.  We’re also seeing a definite uptick in projects as clients look to push on with their change agendas.

One key change for us is that we’re now into our journey to becoming a BCORP business. When I explain what BCORP means, I summarise it as pursuing the right balance of People, Profit and Planet. Easy to say, hard to execute. As part of the accreditation process, we’re finding that in some areas we’re scoring good marks but, in many others, we have lots of work to do to evolve our practices. It’s a very challenging process and our thinking is getting most affected – in a good way. BCORP is also having an impact on Food and Drink more widely, Carla lifts the lid on what is happening in the article To B or Not to B?

Lockdown has caused huge changes in sports participation – for instance, cycling in the UK has literally doubled with females and families making up the new category entrants. We look at the holistic sports category – from equipment, to supplements and nutrition. We pull out the longer-term implications of this sports boom for brands, retailers and manufacturers, which you can read in a recent blog post. Visit Raising the Bar: How Has Lockdown Impacted the Sports Nutrition, Equipment and Supplements Category?

Health and Beauty has long been a passion of ours and we have found that consumers are changing their behaviour at a rapid pace. One key change has been the fact that there is now more shopper interest in investing in skin condition through simpler, more natural skincare products and less interest in make-up. With salon’s and barbers closed, we’re finding that shoppers are recreating the ‘salon’ experience at home. The rise of in-home treatment such as hair dye raises the question of whether salons will continue as a retail and service channel in the way they are now? The salon experience will have to change due to COVID so we will likely see more in-home treatments for the foreseeable future. Read what Sophie makes of it by reading Lockdown Shakes the Foundations in Health and Beauty.

The Buyer is an iconic role in food and drink. But, have we passed peak ‘Buyer’? On this month’s Grocery Insider podcast, I talk to the company that’s working with Walmart to automate regular commercial buying decisions – delegating them to a ‘Bot’. The bot discusses ranging, agrees commercials, ‘argues’ about price – just like a real Buyer. I came away from the discussion in two minds, on the one hand I like the access to decision making that automation can deliver, as it democratises the access to the retailer which can be a real blocker for smaller brands. But on the other hand, as a former Buyer, I can’t shake the belief that gut feel, imagination, commercial creativity are uniquely human characteristics. But, like it or not, the rise of AI Buying is coming, so get your head round the issues by casting an eye over Is this the end of the Human Buyer?

Lastly, it’s hard to ignore just how well New Zealand has dealt with the COVID threat. Together with the NZ Trade and Enterprise team, we shot a short video update on the situation in the UK last month, which was very well put together by Maria and the team. It’s well worth a watch as we touch on prospects for foodservice, direct to consumer and retail. See me talk about Covid-19 Market Realities’ for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

Whatever you do this month, take some time to enjoy the fruits of the easing of lockdown and stay safe and sane.

Hamish

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