Brand innovation is the lifeline of retail and companies have been busy developing the next big things in line with demand.
By Elena Dimama
New product development (NPD) is crucial to attract new customers and retain repeat customers, which is why brands keep increasing spend on expanding lines and creating new products with shoppers in mind.
According to government statistics, companies spent £800m on food and drink R&D in 2021/22, an increase of 12.7% from £710m the year before.
The rise in local shopping, coupled with demand for high-quality value products, is just one of the reasons why brands want to invest in product development.
Greenock-based Golden Casket, for example, has rebranded its £onepounders confectionery range as ‘Allrounders’ by Buchanans in £1.25 price-marked packs. The new product will have 48 confectionery varieties across boiled, gum, mint and bonbons, chocolate and toffee lines with each sub-variety boasting its own pack colour of yellow, pink, green and purple. Available in stores from the beginning of February, the range includes 34 Vegetarian Society and 41 halal-approved lines.
“Our Allrounders offer is a new name but with the same all-round delicious taste and value of its predecessors. The brand will continue to champion and support the independent retail sector throughout the UK,” Carly Rae, Trade Marketeer at Golden Casket, explains.
McCain has been busy too and announced in November that it was undertaking the launch of its biggest new product development in over a decade with Baby Hasselbacks. Inspired by consumer insight which revealed that shoppers lack inspiration for midweek meals, the new product aims to also increase the appeal of the growing frozen food category.
“We’re helping our customers to add restaurant-quality foods to their home-cooked meals, in a matter of just minutes,” Mark Hodge, VP of Marketing at McCain, said at the time of the launch. “This new launch is the perfect combination of delicious flavour and convenience.
“The range is perfect to accompany a variety of meals whether it is a relaxing evening in after a long day or to add something fun and different to family mealtimes.”
Meanwhile, Tayto-owned Golden Wonder has launched £1 PMP Saucers, tapping into growing demand for price-marked packs. “The squeeze on consumers means independent retailers must give their customers confidence that they are getting great value through PMPs,” the brand noted. “Value for money is now the third most important reason for snacks purchase (after flavour and quality) with over 90% agreeing that value for money is important.”
Low and no
Impending reformulation and increased demand for low and no sugar and alcohol products has fuelled NPD for years.
Molson Coors has launched a reformulated Cobra Zero in 330 ml cans, capitalising on growing appetite for alcohol-free products, particularly from young adults, many of whom are less likely to drink alcohol than any other generation. In fact, one in five young adults are now teetotal, according to Drinkaware.
Announcing the launch Flick Jones, Senior Brand Manager – Cobra at Molson Coors Beverage Company, said: “The number of alcohol-free occasions continues to increase as does the Asian lager market in the UK, so it’s the perfect time for us to launch our new and improved Cobra Zero recipe, available in can format for the first time.”
Meanwhile, Tate & Lyle Sugars has launched a low-calorie Sucralose Sweetener to offer consumers more choice. Available in both tablet and resealable pouch form, it is more concentrated to offer a cost saving, meaning consumers could use less product to achieve “the same amount of sweetness”. Furthermore, the resealable pouch is recyclable, uses less packaging material than a traditional bag or box, and takes up less space on the shelf for retailers.
“We’ve seen a growing trend towards consumers regularly opting for sweetener; the market is now worth over £55m per year and accounts for almost a fifth of the total sugar market value. This share is growing year on year, for example, sales of our existing food service-led sweetener brand have grown by 300% in volume compared to pre-Covid-19 levels, with this sales trend expected to continue as consumers remain focused on exercising greater control of their diets,” Sandra Gonilho, Marketing Manager, for Tate & Lyle Sugars, says.
NPD is a big area of interest in the drinks sector too, as witnessed by the burst of product launches in the category.
Bacardi-owned Eristoff vodka is just one of the brands innovating, with the company’s latest RTD cocktails launched recently to respond to consumer demand for berry and tropical flavours. The new Eristoff Pink it Up! and Passion Star! were launched for the 2022 festive season, but the flavours are also primed for the summer months.
What’s more, Polish vodka brand Zubrowka has introduced its first-ever craft beer to feature Bison Grass. The new Polish Bison Grass Wheat Craft Beer is brewed at 4.2% using the essence of bison grass, while boasting notes of almond, vanilla, coconut and lavender.
Finally, Pernod Ricard has launched The Chuan, aimed at celebrating the brand’s vision to create a malt whisky made in China. “The inauguration of The Chuan Distillery is the culmination of a pioneering adventure,” explains Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard.
“We have blended the natural beauty of the Emeishan landscape in China with the skill and craftsmanship of our distillers to produce a whisky to be proud of.
“It will shape a new and unique experience for whisky enthusiasts for many years to come.”