As part of my job I find myself at places and events that I’ve personally loved to visit. The BBC Good Food Show was one of those events that I’d always wanted to go to, but never found the time.
As part of our current Food & Drink Campaign I decided to go and see who was attending and get a sense of how that industry is developing and find out what’s new and exciting.
I arrived having been to many trade/consumer shows before and had a good idea what to expect. I had an idea of what I wanted from the show too with regards to information. I wanted to see who I think we could help with brand development or marketing strategy. Companies who are clearly selling a great product that has immense potential, but that perhaps have unclear messaging or a disconnect visual style. Companies that are doing well, but need help to make them reach a greater audience. I also wanted to find, The Next Big Thing in food and drink.
At the entrance to the show, I went left into the ‘Food Champions’ area. Like a farmers market, each stall had happy smiley people offering samples of their produce and, to my surprise, you could buy their products! So for the first hour or so I was simply a consumer. Like most people, I tried many samples of wonderful food and drink from sausages from Herefordshire to Honey from Cambridge.
Gin was by far the most popular product being ‘pitched’ to consumers and after a few hours it did feel like anybody selling gin infused with this or that, could struggle to make their voice heard. I saw some great unique gin products, but I had also seen something very similar three stalls earlier. I think anybody selling artisan gin today is going to have to find a new way of expressing their uniqueness. Saying you are an ethically sourced gin with botanicals that have been grown locally, with a design style that looks embellished and ornate is going to be pretty much like everyone else it seems. I mean, I liked them, but are they now going in the right direction?
There was no denying that the gins at the show were great gins, but where was their individuality. Where was an expression of something special in a gin-lake filled with foil block, embossing and gift sets. Traditionally gin has been a classless tipple, so maybe a new brand should be less Jane Austen and be more Stephen King.
Now I know gin is all about subtle flavours, so a gin that’s as in your face as a Stephen King’s Gin might be, may not be the right direction. But, if you start to think beyond what is conventional you start to think differently and if that’s what gin is all about, why not do it for it’s brand or marketing?
Not everything at the show was about good gin though, there was also some great food to try and see demonstrations of gadgets for every kind of kitchen use.
I particularly I liked the 3D printed vitamins that looked liked sugared sweets. The idea being that you work out your vitamin needs and personalise them in sugared sweet form to then be consumed daily. Healthy sweets, this is such a great idea and really tasty but with genuine health benefits. Just like something from the future or a sci-fi movie!
I found the whole experience personally satisfying, since I bought honey, chocolate and gin (sucker for gin), and professionally enlightening. I now better understand the future of Food & Drink and can see how its future can develop and grow.