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Trade show roundup: PUB16

This week, Slice got the chance to head down to the Pub16 show at the Kensington Olympia to rub shoulders with all the most exciting folks from the world of pubs, bars, restaurants and wholesalers. Needless to say, we didn’t think twice about checking out a room full of pubs, snacks, exciting new brands and alcohol.

We absolutely loved getting to chat with you all at the show, finding out where your business is heading beyond 2016 and your dastardly plans for pub domination! When we weren’t shooting the breeze and trying your delicious wares, we were in listening mode. We’re pretty good at multitasking you see, so we picked up on some notable insight, trends and themes from the show that could impact your strategy and marketing plans.

Alcohol must warn consumers of calorie content

You were probably dealing with the swarms of buyers at your stand when this news broke, but on Wednesday, Tennents Larger announced it was to become the first alcohol product in the UK to display calorie information on it’s packaging, following AB Inbev, Carlsberg and Heineken’s commitments to do the same by the end of 2016. From March, cans and bottles will be legally required to carry the information in order to educate drinkers on how to responsibly enjoy a tipple and remind them of the calorie intake.

So what does this mean for you? Well for a start, this has a direct impact on brands selling into the consumer. The redesign required to fit in those pesky – but important- bits of information, might mess around with the navigation of your packaging and branding. And while we’re at it, when was the last time you asked whether your branding is doing all it can to get the consumer to pick it up and drink it down? And for you wholesale folks, don’t get too comfy. I see you putting your feet up and getting that glazed over look in your eyes. But when will this extend to your retailers? Are you prepared to display the calorie content in your products and maintain your pack aesthetic?

Soft drinks go posh

Gone are the days of your sugar-laden soft drinks in the pub! ‘Premium’ was the trend in soft drinks that dominated the exhibition hall. The fizzy and delectable delights we spotted seemed to be positioned around catering to the health and wellness conscious consumer and showing how your soft drink is more natural and wholesome than the larger brands.. In terms of product trends it’s all about fresh ingredients, delicate blends and flavours from natural sources,- not a combination of e-numbers. Never before has the average Jo in the pub been so conscious of what they were consuming and concerned with what goes into making their drinks, so it’s wise to cater to the more informed and cautious consumer.

The challenge in branding for you purveyors of pop, lies in making your drinks stand out in a crowded mini fridge behind the bar. We noticed lots of gorgeous fine art botanical drawings or confectionary based stylings across the exhibition hall. But is that enough to draw the consumers eye away from the punchier branding or to tear them away from the classic choices from familiar brands?

Pork Scratchings are king but unlikely snacks are on the up

Remember those health conscious consumers I just mentioned? Those chaps who read the backs of the bottle, debate the healthiness of their choices and those who are looking for wholeness in their treats? Yeah well turns out they still really want a packet of pork scratchings at the pub. A contradiction of attitudes for sure, but stay with me on this one. We spoke to several snack vendors on site who said that out of their entire portfolio, pork scratchings are time and time again the biggest seller. Queues were enormous at these stands. But how you can you brand the humble pork scratching into the 21st century? Making consumers feel good about that special occasional treat of a pork scratching, can be all down to your tone of voice, packaging aesthetic and plain transparency. We all know what’s bad for us but making that indulgence worth it is down to a good story, credible provenance and a promise of good quality.

Crisp products were positioned largely around their British heritage, focusing on the quality and origins of wholesome ingredients. Meat snacks once again appealed to that health conscious consumer indulging in a treat and displayed notes about the protein content boldly on the pack. A surprising new entrant to the snack range, was the humble broad bean. Not only were these little guys delicious when dried and flavoured with sweet chilli, cheese or salt and vinegar but they are completely VAT free as they count as a vegetable in the HMRC’s eyes. Win, win, win!
What might be a challenge, is making these magic beans appeal to the traditional crisp or nut consumer. Rustic and nostalgic packaging were prominent, and colourful packaging that emphasised the bold snack flavours, was also a popular eye-catching strategy.

We’re heading into a busy trade show and conference season so you’d be wise to keep an eye out for us and our insights following the shows.

  • Casual Dining show on 24th Feb
  • Professional and organic beauty show on the 29th Feb
  • Northern Restaurant and Bar show 16th March
  • Natural & Organic products show 18th April

Are you considering a redesign or have you perhaps found your products falling out of favour with consumers, retailers and wholesalers? Regardless of the challenge you’re facing, SLICE has you covered; an integrated agency, which strives to remain flexible, hassle-free and time and cost efficient. We know branding and we know the complication that comes with big agencies. Look out for us at the shows above or get in touch direct! Let’s chat over a premium soft drink sometime.

Feel free to drop us a line or pop in and meet us in person. We are located in the centre of Hammersmith, London.

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