Food, drink and hospitality: Responding to trends

With data, food and beverage companies can respond to trends quickly – but only with the right data governance and strategy. Here's how...

Who’d have thought Kombucha would get so popular? With data, food and beverage companies can respond to trends quickly – but only with the right data governance and strategy.

It’s all about Kombucha these days. Demand for the ‘wellness’ drink seemed to appear from nowhere and escalate rapidly. Five years ago, most of us in the UK didn’t even know what Kombucha was, let alone if we wanted to drink it (we’re still on the fence).

Now, it’s projected to grow at a CAGR of 17.5% over the next four years and can be found in most local convenience stores next to the Fanta and Innocent Smoothies.

So how do food and beverage brands cash in on a massive growth trend like this?

Well, the truth is, if you’re targeting a trend once it’s become ‘a trend’, chances are you are already too late. That ship has sailed.

Coca-Cola added their first line of Kombucha drinks in 2018, after acquiring Australian Kombucha maker Organic & Raw Trading Co. They weren’t exactly hot off the starting block, but they weren’t late to the party, either – it preceded Kombucha girl at least. Yes, Kombucha was on the up, but it wasn’t a saturated market.

Once you start to physically see a food or drink trend unfolding, it becomes harder to jump on that bandwagon profitably. So how do you spot it in time to carve a niche and respond quickly to that trend?

Data.

Data allows you to get timely insight into changing tastes, fads and evolving consumer demands. But it only works if your data is accurate, relevant and serves the purpose you want it to.

For instance, if your data only looks at how well your crinkle cut frozen chips are selling compared to frozen skinny fries, you could be missing a hugely valuable data set. Sweet potato chips might already be encroaching on both in your target market, but you’re missing that vital information because your data isn’t set up to see it.

Or perhaps your data isn’t drilling into the right details. You may be tracking consumer data on fat content, for example, and therefore change your recipe to reduce fat in your food or drink product. However, if you’re not looking at the bigger data picture and noticing that artificial sweeteners are a bigger turn off to consumers than a few extra calories, you could be spending a lot of time, money and resource developing a product that won’t be a success.

And then there’s taste. How many times have you picked up a favourite brand, seen the words ‘brand new recipe!’ and thought...oh no. If brands analyse data successfully, they can get an accurate, realistic picture of what consumers really want, the ingredients they don’t want to find in their products, their changing tastes and expectations.

With data being collected at an ever-increasing rate, we have more insight – and foresight – into trends than we ever have before. But just because data is available, it doesn’t automatically mean that brands are using it effectively.

What’s the answer? There’s no hard and fast rule for every food or beverage business. If you want to use data as a differentiator, you need to think about:

  • What you want to achieve from your data
  • What data you need to get to your goal
  • How you need to use that data to get there

At Comma, we help food and beverage brands ask the right questions about their data, implement the technology that will best support their goals and ensure that the data they are using is of high enough quality to achieve their business objectives.

To find out more about how our data strategy, advisory, system integration and support services – including data governance, data quality and MDM/PIM implementation – can help you tackle data to track trends, call us on +44 1926 911820, email info@comma-group.com or schedule a free one-to-one consultation. Speak to one of Comma’s data management experts before it's too late...

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