In my world, dinner time is becoming increasingly fraught. Not only do my two children suffer reactions that make peanut brittle and egg sandwiches somewhat deadly, my husband has recently developed an allergy to prawns and I, on the advice of a Chinese acupuncturist, no longer eat gluten, dairy or corn. We are turning the clock back 25 years and becoming a household of meat and three veg. But without the pudding.
Anecdotally it seems every where I go, people are avoiding certain foods. There must be a joke that begins – a Coeliac, a Paleo and a Vegan walked into a restaurant…
But, is this heightened awareness merely a hothouse effect brought about by my own situation or the company I keep? Are active food avoidance behaviours actually that common in the wider community?
The news is often full of stories about our burgeoning obesity crisis, and how taste and the need for convenience drives unhealthy choices. (Did you know that one in four adults eat no vegetables on an average day?)
But, what about at the other end of the market – where matters of health, image, religion or moral positions lead people to make certain food choices outside of the norm?
According to the Australian Health Survey, around 17% of Australians aged 2 and over report avoiding food for medical reasons (allergies or intolerances) and 7% make choices based on their religion. The prevalence is higher amongst women across both of these groups. Certainly, the prevalence of allergy and diagnosed intolerances have sky-rocketed over the past decade.
But beyond these two core reasons for food choices, what else is driving the trial (and adaption) of unusual diets and food plans?
With 13% of Australians apparently on a diet at anyone time, weight loss remains a core driver of food fads. Who can forget living through the Atkins Diet phase, which saw my best-friends (smart people, both) equating fruit and veggies with potato chips and eating KFC without the skin on as a “healthy choice”.
But it is not just about weight loss anymore. There also seems to be a growing interest in overall health and an increasing desire to take control of one's health. This no doubt extends into food choices as well.
The Paleo Diet, primarily about avoiding grains, is having its time in the sun. Last year it was the most popular diet Googled, and there are over 5000 books related to the Paleo Diet on Amazon. And, while sugar free is not a new concept, the idea of quitting sugar altogether seems to be enjoying popularity. Both of these promise more holistic health benefits - increased energy, longevity, anti-cancer properties… and a reduction in earwax (seriously).
Food fads are largely driven by successful book launches, and The Akins Diet Revolution, The Paleo Diet and I Quit Sugar for Life are no exceptions.
What is interesting, however, is how often these food choices seem to go against the collective wisdom of experts. All these plans mentioned exclude things that seem naturally part of a healthy diet. No fruit if you’re quitting sugar, apparently. And the list of problems nutritionists have with the Paleo Diet is pretty extensive.
So why do people flock to these theories in such large numbers? Is it just about a quick fix? Or is there something more? What role does the lack of trust in food manufacturers play? Or the underlying fear that the health messages we are being told by our government might be for sale to the highest bidder?
Trust is a big issue here for brands. Building that trust and not squandering it with spurious (even if legally defendable) claims about what your product can do for people is a lesson more corporates could learn. And don't try and pretend your product is healthy when it is not. Consumers are not stupid.
What they are, however, is willing and eager to compromise. While it is clear that food choices will always have a role to play in the effort to feel healthier, the desire for balance remains a prevalent position many consumers appear to take. I, for one, cannot resist chocolate, no matter who tells me it is bad for me or how much pain it causes me. Reduced, yes. Cut out completely? No. Balance and compromise remain central decision making criteria.
Because of this, there will always be a role for brands in more indulgent food spaces. Overtly owning what you stand for (like Magnum is doing) or highlighting the emotional space your brand can occupy (like Nutella has done with their lovely Rise and Shine campaign) represent ways for sugar rich brands to still connect meaningfully with consumers, even those with a eye on the health-o-meter.
by Sharlene Zeederberg
There has been a recent spate of terrible acts of “one punch” violence being reported in the media. It seems that every Saturday night brings with it another story of someone’s son on life support. It makes me wonder, what has changed with our youth of today, our millennials? Or has nothing changed at all?
The culture of macho is well entwined in the Australian psyche, going back as far as Ned Kelly or maybe before! West Side Story (and Romeo and Juliet before that) all show us that men being thugs in gangs is not new news. And surely Australians INVENTED the beer ad?
There is no doubt that the rise of social media, mobile phone usage and 24/7 internet all mean that our need for around the clock information must be satisfied and the media have certainly risen to the occasion. This constant reporting of every event
unsettles us as a population and definitely leaves the impression that a “baddie” is lurking around every corner. But is he? By most reports, violent crime (with perhaps the exception of kidnapping) is diminishing. But we don’t feel any safer.
Is alcohol to blame? According to the ABS, alcohol consumption actually peaked in the 1970s (I have a sneaky suspicion it was linked to the rise of that 1970s favourite: cask wine…). Looking at recent trends in youth alcohol consumption, most sources seem to favour a decline rather than an increase. Perhaps what they are consuming just has a more dire effect (alcopop anyone?)
And whilst we don’t see many “coward’s punchers” of the X chromosome, it is widely reported that females have also become more out of control, swilling back with the best of the boys. A theory is that back when ladies were more of the faint hearted variety, they used to hold their men back when it came to a fight. If someone has some evidence of that as a successful strategy to stop two blokes brawling, I would love to see it!
So it must come back to the popular theory that those “baddie” fearing parents are to blame. Children are being kept at home more, neighbourhood play is being restricted, and children are even shielded from failing in competitive sports. Hence, many of this generation of young people haven’t experienced risk management or learnt their own limits, which is undermining their self worth leaving them hostile and angry. A&E
departments do cite a decline in injuries sustained in the outdoors – but these have been compensated for by indoor injuries, particularly RSI and spinal injuries from too much gaming time.
I find this cycle extremely sad –because parents have been trying to protect their children, it is actually leading to injuries of other children, 10 years on. In which case we can probably expect this phenomenon to persist, given that few local councils are
going to reinstate the dodgy see-saw to promote manliness, particularly in our
increased climate of legislation and blame. So how we do put our society to right
and bring back the broken arms and legs that were a rite of passage in previous
How many “trends for 2014” emails have you received recently? It is that time of the year.
Just in case you missed out, the folks at Trendwatching.com have a great presentation on the seven trends to run with in 2014, complete with examples of brands already in on the action. Or if you prefer to see how communication technology might impact your consumers' lives in 2014, Ericsson’s Consumer Lab have released a rather thorough, data-backed report on their “10 top ten consumer trends for 2014”.
If you would just prefer a press-release overview – you can check out Marketwired for the Euromonitor view of things as well as trends published in The Guardian and Forbes.
But with so many trends about, how do you make sense of them for your brand? How do you work out which trends matter and tap into those ones in a way that is consistent with your brand positioning and needs of your target market?
Key to doing this is remembering that while trends most certainly provide inspiration, insight comes from exploring the core drivers for your target market that your brand is tapping into.
Trends, like all consumer (in fact, “human”) behaviour are driven by the desire to fulfil core emotional needs. Think status or security or the need for connection, for example. Understanding which of these drive your target market to choose your brand will unlock the insights you need to take advantage of the changing landscape in which you and your consumers find yourselves.
Not sure what core needs are? Self-help guru, Tony Robbins, lists 6 core emotional needs that drive our behaviour and our choices. Certainty, variety, significance, connection, growth and contribution.
What core drivers does your brand tap into?