This year’s NPD (New Product Development) Food and Drink Conference provided insights into the latest consumer, shopper, health, packaging, retailer & market trends.
We got to see a range of thought provoking presentations, but there was one topic that particularly piqued our interest; the focus on large businesses being seen to be increasingly sluggish in a fast-moving environment, this in turn, leaving the door open for more agile start-ups to thrive, a sort of modern day David verses Goliath if you will.
In a world where we have to take into account socioeconomic factors, globalisation and emerging markets its easy for large businesses to get wrapped up and lose focus on their core market. This creates a huge challenge for bigger brands when it comes to NPD and brand design as they are expected, more and more to behave like an entrepreneurial start-up, which has great emphasis on testing the market and taking more risks to get products to market quicker. This is much harder to achieve in a large organisation which is increasingly under pressure to tackle turnover targets and be agile at the same time, let alone if they're operating on multi-national scale. Losing focus on innovation and key market trends can lead to a lack of vision, and these versatile young start-ups are starting to poach bigger organisation's core business.
A brand that predominantly stood out during the presentation; because of its ability to seemingly innovate due to a series accidental stumbling’s, was Pinkster Gin. Founder Stephen Marsh, who originally turned to experimenting with gin because of an allergy that he developed to yeast, which led to wine and beer no longer agreeing with him, set out to create a gin recipe that could be enjoyed, particularly with food. Initially settling on raspberries which were added after the brewing process (not a traditional way of creating flavoured gin), he found that it softened the initial bitterness of the traditional gin taste and was primarily nothing to do with the actual colour it produced in the gin.
Little did he know at the time that the colour of the beverage meant it had landed itself in a category that was set to skyrocket; according to CGA, the value of pink gin is up by a whopping 1,779%. Consumers of pink gin tend to be slightly younger than its traditional counterpart and have a higher female bias. Because of this and the obvious colour of Pinkster, Stephen didn’t just want it to be limited to the female market. He took a broader concept and tailored the brand to appeal to a varied audience, and we can see this by observing the branded design of the bottle; it's very geometric and very simple with a subtle yet eye-catching design.
Stephen’s other innovations fell out of the processes used to make the gin itself, and almost everything in the range (including the gin to an extent) has been a series of accidents. Because they were accidental, Pinksters didn’t have to invest in lots of development or resources to create and innovate the products. Innovations such as using the raspberries left over after the gin has been taken out to create a new product line called Boozy Berries, as well as making Gin Jam. Even the syrup is made into a gin liquor called Hedgepig, and because every part of the brewing process is used to create different products sold, nothing goes to waste. Pinkster have also created a three-litre bag-in-box concept that was inspired by a desire to reduce glass waste in both the on and off trade.
This is a hobby that has grown wildly out of control
Stephen Marsh - Founder - Pinkster
After receiving fantastic feedback from tastings at events and food fairs, Stephen leapt into focusing on his hobby grown career full time. Pinkster is now stocked by the likes of Majestic Wine, Marks and Spencer, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges as well as dozens of farm shops and food halls across the country. It just goes to show how a little innovation, accidental or not, can lead to the creation of a unique brand.