Datamonitor predicts fast rise in luxury food sales

Speciality foods and drinks are flying off the shelves in the UK with retail sales of luxury brands set to grow, according to a new report from Datamonitor.

Retail sales for the top end of the market were worth £3.6bn last year and are poised to increase by 16 per cent to £4.2bn by 2011.

UK consumers spend an average of £56 each year on speciality foods and drinks, such as gourmet coffee, chocolates, spirits, wines and craft beers, which rely on the packaging design to frame the product.

The report states that the UK is one of the world’s most developed private-label markets and has been the leader in rolling out these brands. Supermarket Tesco has successfully driven uptake of its Finest range, while Sainsbury’s has followed suit with Taste the Difference, designed by Parker Williams, and Asda’s Extra Special.

According to Matthew Adams, consumer markets analyst and author of the report, the growing wealth of consumers is creating a new trend towards premium goods, and this is pressuring marketers to innovate faster to maintain the premium image of their brands.

‘For premium brands to avoid brand erosion, they must ensure that their products have a genuine point of differentiation that makes them stand out from the mainstream,’ says Adams.

Tamara Williams, creative director at Parker Williams, believes that specialist delicatessens have become household names and people are now recognising the gift potential of food. There is more education about food and people expect more,’ she says.

‘It can be packaged in the right way so it becomes something very special,’ she adds. ‘Within design aspects, structure also plays a massive role. So many premium brands start to differentiate by using more unusual structures.

‘For example, Carluccio’s is so lovely at Christmas that it’s almost as exciting as going into a chocolate house a few years ago. But retailers and supermarkets may suffer with specialist ranges because they don’t have the ability to display things beautifully. It’s a real dilemma over whether less is more or less is less. If they are on the shelves with less design, it can look either very premium or very economy. Retailers have all manner of consumers, but delis have traders who understand Minimalism.’

Blackburn’s Design has recently been involved with a project for a specialist French wine called Chamarré. The consultancy decided to change the face of French wine and make it look more appealing and attractive, and sales have already gathered pace.

Belinda Duggan, creative director at Blackburn’s, says: ‘Packaging is absolutely important if you are one of those demographics who will buy specialist products. If you are spending that kind of money, then you are interested in the way products are presented and expect them to look a certain way so that they are appealing.

‘We have done a lot of wines and whiskeys and health drinks,’ she adds. ‘It has to look pleasing for the eye. It is changing how people look at food. All these celebrity chefs, Jamie Oliver and so on, they have made food very fashionable and it has changed a lot over the years.’


SPECIALTY TRENDS

• The UK is the second-largest speciality food and drink market in Europe
• The French, famous for their love of fine cuisine, are the biggest spenders at £80 per person per year
• Sweden has the lowest predicted speciality food and drink market value

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