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
As I was walking through my local shops the other day, I noticed a ‘going out of business’ sign on the solarium. Apparently, in ground breaking legislation, the NSW government has banned solariums – the second place this has happened in the world, behind only Brazil.
This is obviously good news. For one, I will be glad to no longer have to view the posters of glistening bikini clad ladies whilst on the school run. And of course we know skin cancer is a nasty entity (ranked #16 on the mortality charts for Australians), so why offer people an extra opportunity to get a little cancer if they are just popping to the shop for milk and bread?
This made me stop (away from aforementioned bikini clad ladies) and consider all the other things that are banned, ostensibly for our own best interests. We can’t take a bottle of water on a plane now, as someone once tried to use one in a bomb. We always have to remove our shoes before getting on a plane too, as someone once again almost blew one up. We can’t buy alcohol after 10pm because every weekend it seems another youth is being fatally punched to the ground in Kings Cross. Gun laws were tightened after the Port Arthur massacre and hallelujah perhaps this has saved us from the fate of the US who seem to report a new gunman reign of terror each week. Oh and let’s not forget the WA government making sure we are not eaten alive by great white sharks. (Or not, as it seems the case may be, because they haven’t actually caught any yet)
However, the government will let me stand outside the solarium, soak up a few rays, smoke a cigarette and eat a greasy burger with fries and a Coke– if this is my habit, my chances of dying are far higher than the equivalent time inside. Because top Australian killers are heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases (things like haemorrhages and strokes) and in fourth place is trachea, bronchus and lung cancer (third is dementia, in case you were wondering about my mathematical abilities).
We also know that the vast majority of these illnesses are caused by lifestyle factors:
1. Australia’s obesity rates having grown 81% in the last 33 years - with 29% of our adult population now classified as obese.
2. “ Professor of health policy at Curtin University Mike Daube said "incredibly low" vegetable consumption reveals that fast food has eclipsed vegetables as a dietary staple”
3. A recent report found that 80% of Australian kids are not getting daily exercise and are amongst the least active in the world – only Scottish kids came in worse in a study of 15 nations and hey, it’s really really cold there for a lot of the year, so that seems fair enough.
4. And 20.4% of adult males and 16.3% of adult females still smoke, despite regular horrible visual reminders of how unlikely it is to end well for them.
So the government is busy protecting us against plane hijacking, skin cancer (from solariums – they don’t seem to care about you too much on Bondi beach), one punch knockouts, bitey hungry sharks and gunman massacres. There is no doubt that these are all horrible, shocking things and it would be great to be without them - by my count this probably keeps about 800 Australians alive per year. Even if you add total skin cancers into the equation, it is still coming in around 3000 maximum.
But heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and lung cancer kill 38000 Australians per year. 38000! Let’s not knock my maths - surely it’s the government who needs a new calculator here? Talk about security theatre!
So do we feel safer, knowing the government is keeping our toes from the sharks and checking our shoes for the terrorists? So we can sit comfortably with those safe feet up, on our large-ish behinds, happily scoffing our junk food whilst watching someone else get active on the tv? If all else fails, perhaps they can look for inspiration in their own policies and at very least consider a 10pm McDonalds lockout? Force you to take your shoes off to get to the shop to buy junk food? Or perhaps big trawlers can start shooting obese swimmers at the beach - actually, let’s give them a break because at least they are trying to exercise which is more than can be said for the bulk of Australians…
I always find it difficult when we have overseas visitors who ask to have an “Australian experience”. Apart from trotting out to the Opera House and giving them a bit of Vegemite toast for breakfast, I struggle to immerse them in real
Australiana. This struggle is of course much harder for brands who are trying define themselves through their
Australianness or adapt their global persona to an Australian perspective.
Ask any Australian to characterise an Australian and you are likely to get a picture of an old guy in stubbies holding a Fosters in the dusty outback, beside a ute, with his dog - or maybe that’s a kangaroo. He’s perpetually sunburnt and wrestles crocodiles in his spare time when he is not watching sport.
The Australian stereotype is so firmly linked to our limited history, harking back to our convict days. And whilst this bloke isn’t extinct, he certainly doesn’t represent the average Australian (except for the sport bit which is still highly archetypal). How does a brand which wants to represent Australia do so in a modern
way? What does characterise the modern Australian identity?
Who is the average Australian?
According to the 2011 census, "the average Australian is a 37 year old woman, born in Australia … She has English, Australian, Irish, or Scottish ancestry. She speaks only English at home and belongs to a Christian religion, most likely Catholic...She is married, and lives with her husband and two children...in a separate house with three bedrooms and two cars in a suburb of one of
Australia's capital cities…"
Despite the “average” Australian pictured above, the ABS states that NO SINGLE PERSON on census night could have actually been described in this manner. Our diversity is huge and whilst this melting pot has begun to characterise us as a nation, we couldn’t say that acceptance is an Aussie trait – racial violence and the so called tall poppy syndrome are still very present.
So how do we show the average Australian on a tv ad
To characterise Australia is difficult if we try to describe a person, a national dish or costume – things that can be so easy for other countries. We can’t whip out the indigenous archetype because our Aboriginal population is now only at 3%. We are very proud of “our country” – although most of us haven’t seen much of it outside of the beaches (where we bake ourselves despite having the world’s highest rate of skin cancer. But we blame that on the British backpackers).
We CAN show you the large array of toothy, fangy, stingy creatures that could kill you (and we are perversely proud of them) but that’s probably not a fertile area for many brands. To characterise the young nation of Australia we need to personify our values.
So what are Australian values and are they unique?
Mateship is an interesting area that is touted as the very key to Australianness. But ahem, doesn’t everyone love a beer & pie /red wine & brie/ saki & sushi with their friends, not just Australians? As Hugh Mackay once said, we celebrated the Beaconsfield miner rescue as a celebration of Australianness – but wouldn’t every nation want to rescue their kin trapped
We are proud of our fighting spirit which we inherited from our ancestors although we also fancy ourselves to be laid back (although our European friends will tell us otherwise, as will the stats on the number of
hours we work).
We don’t have a strong class system and we are proud of that, which tends to show up in our self mocking humour and our abuse of the English language through our wide adoption of slang. That said, class exists
and the gap grows wider. And whilst we don’t always give everyone a fair go (let’s not even discuss The Boats here), we still hold it up as a something to be proud of.
Hence it is difficult for brands who want to be Australian
because we are a population who has a unique identity, but it is difficult to define given we share many values with the countries of origin of our diverse population. To show “Australian” means understanding the correct nuance of these values. It is an area which is easy to cliché and to get horribly wrong ('where the bloody hell are ya?') but if done right will resonate for years to come…and will go straight to the pool room.
It may seem a little strange, given it is part of our business name, but we are not overly fond of the word insight. Now, this doesn’t mean we are not passionate consumer insight advocates – of course we are! But, “insight” is such an over-used and misunderstood word, that we fear the value and meaning of “insight” may have been lost.
So, what do we mean when we say insight? And why do we think it is so important?
Conventionally insight is often defined as seeing what everyone else sees, but thinking something different. The Oxford dictionary talks about insight as the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something.
This is a very important part of insight, an essential part, but it is not the whole picture, especially not for marketers.
For insight to be useful in a business sense, it must be about a penetrating new understanding that leads to opportunity. This is about more than just important learnings and facts that come out of research and other sources of information. Insight lies in determining how that information provides an opportunity for your business and brands going forwards.
We believe insight plays a pivotal role in brand strategy. These foundational insights (or, if you like, bedrock insights), are the intersection between consumer need and brand capacity. That is, a penetrating understanding of a consumer truth, that opens up an opportunity which is answered by the brand. If the brand is the how, then the insight is the why. Foundational insight is the brand’s reason for being. It is the flash of understanding about a real consumer need that the brand then fulfils, through its products, presence and communication.
Insights should play a role of paramount importance in the development of creative ideas. It is easy to get caught up in a cool creative concept, but without a strong insight that links an understanding of the customer to the core values and identity of the brand, then that is all it is – a cool creative idea. And while perhaps it might win you awards, it’s unlikely to add strategic value to the brand (or long term dollars to the bottom line).
Getting the insight right gives brands formidable opportunities to win in the market place. Insights that “zing” with energy and opportunity become potent springboards for creative development.
Insights are not just interesting facts, they are “aha” moments that paint a path towards a robust and sustainable future.
Finding sharp insights like that is not easy. It takes open minds, open eyes and a willingness to let go of preconceived notions. It takes a mixture of information, inspiration and imagination.
Ask us about our Sharp Eyes Process if you want to know more about getting the right insights for your business.
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?