5 Ways Food Brands Are Growing in Saturated Markets — Innovation in 5

By: Miranda Essex and Guerric de Ternay, Inventors at ?What If! Innovation

In this issue of Innovation in 5, we explore how some food brands are shaking up a stagnant category and edging out competitors.

1. If you can’t swim against the tide, surf the wave

The proportion of young people choosing to drink alcohol is today the lowest on record.

This is driven by major attitude shifts. Young generations increasingly care about their health, image, and wellbeing. The fact that 1 in 5 young people have turned away from alcohol has interesting implications for the drinks industry.

Major beverage brands are pouring money into non-alcoholic drinks development, with the NOLO (No or Low Alcohol Drinks) category anticipated to grow quickly over the next few years.

Look out for extravagant mocktails recipes and new entrants like Curious Elixirs and Seedlip. They are bringing flair and creativity to a category that was considered very niche.

2. Popping the rules of healthy snacking

Popcorn has undergone a renaissance in recent years. It shifted from an indulgent cinema treat to a healthy on-the-go snack loved by many. The global popcorn market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% until 2020.

Brands such as Joe & Seph’s, Propercorn, and Tyrell’s Poshcorn are smartly positioning themselves in the mind of health-conscious consumers.

These brands understand the moment when people want a light bite with big flavour. And so, they have have developed new propositions at the edges of the traditional snack category where crisps weren’t cutting it.

3. Brands are now certifying themselves

Sainsbury’s recently announced it is launching its own brand, ‘Fairly Traded,’ to certify the ethical origin of its products. Sainbury’s CEO Mike Coupe believes the independent Fairtrade label is no longer fit for purpose.

Companies such as Mondelez and Tesco have also reduced their commitment to Fairtrade and are launching their own labels. They believe they can do a better job at telling the story of their commitments to farmers and producers.

4. Adapting a mature product to the taste of a developing market

The instant noodle market is only growing at a CAGR of 1.8%. Demand is slowing due to people’s concerns about health and freshness.

However, major brands have found new ways of growing–in particular through launching in developing markets.

In India, the total instant noodles and soup market is growing at a CAGR of more than 20%. Brands such as Unilever’s Knorr Soupy Noodles have been adapted to specific cultural tastes, helping to compensate for slow growth in the West.

In the West, brands like Itsu aim to serve health-conscious consumers by bringing a healthier approach to instant noodles.

5. Reframing the user experience to satisfy new needs

Whilst the cereal category has been declining for a decade, the Western on-the-go breakfast market is predicted to grow 46% by 2026. Our insight research shows that consumers feel busier than ever. They want quick, healthier breakfast options they can eat on their commute to work.

Jumping on this new trend, Quaker released Quaker to Go, Weetabix launched Weetabix on the Go with the selling line ‘A Proper Breakfast. Bottled’, and food startups like MOMA Foods are taking over in convenience stores.

Instead of going against the grain, Quaker and Weetabix have started updating their product range to fit today’s lifestyles.

(If you liked this issue of Innovation in 5, check our last issue about how five companies have reinvented their propositions to boost their market share.)

If you’d like to know more about our approach to growing in a mature market, please contact us at Guerric.deTernay@whatifinnovation.com and Miranda.Essex@whatifinnovation.com. Follow us on Twitter @Whatifglobal.