The mother! of a lunch! and the dangers of aggressive punctuation

I’m not sure if you’ve seen the film ‘Mother!’, the recent Darren Aronofsky mind-melter starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. To be honest it’s got absolutely nothing to do with this blog so doesn’t really matter if you have or not. It’s simply to say that I find it impossible to ever mention this film, out-loud, without shouting its title. I have a similar infliction when it comes to telling anyone that I was going to the lunch! trade show this week at London’s ExCel Centre. All the great and good of the food to-go industry all under one roof, plus an opportunity to hear some inspirational talks from leading innovators, what’s not to love. lunch!

Baked snacks, cold press juices and coffee, kombucha, protein everything, gluten free, vegan, raw and ethical causes were all the rage with suppliers. One thing in common was the clear passion and knowledge that each and every one I spoke to had. This is, and always will be in my opinion, the key factor when engaging your brand with the consumer. Authenticity – consumers love it and they can smell the fakers a mile off. The only thing they all had in common, as you can see by the montage of photos below, is that yellows and aqua greens are clearly the on-trend colours of the moment. Just in case you need any inspiration for your new kitchen.

One of the more interesting talks was by Spectacular Mark, who hosted a live version of his podcast and also spoke about his hot trends in marketing. If you think you still need to up your social media game, then bury your head in the sand now, as the influencers have already moved onto ‘voice’ as the next frontier in brand marketing. Alexa holds the keys to the future of consumer interaction…just don’t tell her that!

With all these innovations and exciting trends, it was interesting to hear that even those who you would say are at the cutting-edge of the UK food to-go scene recognise that they can’t afford to stand still.  So, it still surprises me when I hear retailers and establish brands in the convenience sector say that they need to focus on food to go as if it remains a ‘future strategy’. The future is now my friend. Convenience stores are often in prime, high footfall areas, and locations which many FTG brands would kill for. Yet they continue to be behind the 8-ball when it comes to food to-go.

The key hygiene factors that food to-go consumers want is choice and quality. We just simply can’t afford half measures in this category. You’ve got to fully commit otherwise don’t even bother. Sure, you might get by in the short-term with chilled pre-packaged sandwiches, crisps and chocolate bars but sooner rather than later the world will have moved on and at that point, changing your range may be easy but changing shopper’s perceptions will not.

Consumers want to be inspired and this is dialled up to 11 when it comes to food to-go. We spoke to 1,000 consumers through our KAM Community and asked them whether they knew what they were having for lunch today. Here’s what they said;

They may have somewhat of an idea of what they want and where they want to get it from but they’re looking for inspiration. In my experience, walking into a Pret or Leon, for example, gets me going (in purely a foodie way). I want to buy something, I want to buy lots of things, because it looks good, it sounds good and I’m reassured that the quality will be there when I tuck in. I can say the same for a handful of retailers but 9 times out of 10, I will resort to the safety and security of a bag of crisps and a can of coke. Does this mean that what I really want is a bag of crisps and a can of coke? Not really, it’s just what I’m prepared to buy in that instance because there is not another viable option. Sales data would tell you that I like crisps and cans of coke and everything is good in the world – no need to listen to all this rubbish about health and the latest food to-go trends, we know our shoppers like crisps and cans of coke. Sales data in ‘it doesn’t tell the whole story’ shocker. Whatever next, eh?

The film ‘Mother!’ incidentally, in case you haven’t seen it (don’t worry no spoilers here) is an allegory to Adam & Eve and the creation of life. God may have created the earth in 7 days (spoiler alert: he didn’t) but it could be said that the food to-go market moves at an even faster pace. It can’t be something that elicits only talk. Actions are the order of the day and understanding the latest trends and, more importantly, understand how this impacts what consumers want is the key to future success. Let’s do lunch! Let’s just make sure we do it right.

Blake Gladman, Strategy & Insight Director

Blake Gladman

Hi, I'm Blake, Strategy & Insight Director at KAM. I look after all our research products and manage the collection and delivery of insight throughout KAM. I love long runs and good food (the perfect life balance).