December 2, 2019
Christmas is always an exciting time in FMCG. With households opting for festive food and drink, and willing to indulge in more expensive items than usual, companies should be contributing to this increased buzz. Where gourmet and artisan brands will be jostling to be selected for Christmas hampers, high street and supermarket brands are working hard to offer something unique for day-to-day shoppers.
From meeting the growing demand for vegan alternatives, to involving pets in Christmas flavour, brands are tapping into these emerging trends for Christmas. However, to transform new Christmas consumers into a lasting customer base, brands face a challenge to produce a positive PR buzz that lasts beyond the Boxing Day sales.
Meat Free Christmas Foods
While the vegan lifestyle continues to grow in the UK, many of those opting for a plant-based diet will acknowledge there will always be a particular festive food they are missing out on. With Christmas food items often heavy in meat & dairy, any brands developing effective vegan and vegetarian alternatives can expect great publicity and a grateful consumer base.
Morrisons have launched vegan pigs in blankets for 2019, transforming a meat heavy, well-loved Christmas dinner staple into a veggie friendly trimming. The ‘Vegan No-Pigs in Blankets’ are made with jackfruit & chickpea vegan cocktail sausages, wrapped with a pastry “bacon”. At £2.50, they are an affordable meat alternative, making the meat-free option accessible and easy to include in a pre-Christmas weekly shop.
Tesco have gone a step further in Christmas vegan innovation, by creating a shoppable app of Christmas recipes that can be filtered according to dietary needs. ‘The Festive Menu Helper’ provides inspiration for vegan, free from or simply unique alternatives to Christmas dinner and links directly to Tesco’s own product range, taking the perceived hassle out of sourcing unfamiliar ingredients.
Seasonal flavours such as sprout, cinnamon and gingerbread are widely known and embraced, but as more brands infuse these flavours into their festive ranges, it is those that take them a step further, or use them unexpectedly that stand out.
Coca Cola have long been associated with Christmas, with the brand even being credited with giving Father Christmas his red suit. The retro appeal of the Coca Cola Christmas advert marks the start of the Christmas season for many and, this year, Coca Cola have produced Coca Cola Zero Sugar Cinnamon to offer a dedicated festive flavour to their growing range of flavoured sugar free drinks. Though offered as a stand-alone drink, this is a smart addition to the Coca Cola range, as it’s sure to serve well as a festive mixer.
Directly from the high street, Iceland are pushing Christmas flavours far beyond the traditional, with their 2019 festive food range including tempura sprouts and a Christmas dinner pie. While neither are the healthiest option, the battered Japanese spiced sprouts will appeal to those wanting to add something adventurous to their Christmas meal, while also providing a new way to approach the otherwise polarising vegetable.
Being able to involve family pets in celebrations is a notion likely to go over straight non-pet owners’ heads, but be enormously appreciated by animal lovers. Companies that take advantage of flavours usually found in a human Christmas dinner will enjoy positive recognition from pet owners that can funnel new customers in to their regular ranges.
By developing Christmas recipes, Lily’s Kitchen has stayed true to their brand of ‘proper food for pets’, while adding to the Christmas pet product market in a valuable way. Limited edition Christmas recipes (such as Three Bird Feast for dogs and Turkey & Ham for cats) fit seamlessly into their existing range of pet food, allowing new customers to progress naturally on to their standard products after the Christmas period.
Creating a product that is both festive and sits naturally within an existing range is the most effective approach to winning, and maintaining, new customer through Christmas innovation.