George Paul is owner of Bradbury’s

“Pump up the volume”

In the dark months of winter, as the cold chill winds numb the body and brain and simply doing the routine tasks is a chore, it’s hard to engage the spirit in creating and delivering the new, facing the challenges of looking forward and, most importantly, being even more relevant

The sheer pace of change in the consumer process will never leave our long established, rarely comfortable, demanding and challenging dairy trade in anything like the peace we might all desire, and some can get left behind.

As observed previously, the blurred visions of 2017 will doubtless slowly take shape through the hazy cocktail of price changes, Brexit impact, mature profile shortage, exchange rate uncertainty, technical demands, retail price wars and of course the important consumer piece.

An ageing population, new channels of supply via online, concerns whether real or imagined over debt and spending capacity, health messages, convenience formats in both product and retail, more single households impacting on volume requirements, snacking and eating on the go, freshness as a concept in itself, limiting waste, packaging technology, marketing channels, routes to market and so much more make the hurdles to be overcome less distinct, but appearing out of the blue at lightning speed. So, doubtless, many will hunker down and wait for certainty and sustainability to return.

But someone has to do it, someone has to seize the day, because doing nothing is often a terminal disease and those who are nimble, alert, ready to change and invest especially at the low point of the economic dial may well find the market less crowded and the ideas easier to land. Indeed some of the trends may be easier to realise than some consider.

It’s a possibility that Britishness will return, with slight variations for Scottishness, Welshness, Irishness and Englishness, as the Brexit debate becomes more bitter, and politicians of different EEC nations make unpopular statements. It is likely a percentage of our countrymen will think it’s time again to buy British, use British milk, use British cheese, so maybe waving the flag on product labels – say via Red Tractor, the Union Flag, or other clear British identity – may help to alert our consumer.

Product development, too, need not be a high hurdle, indeed some may be simply about a brand refresh, a label redesign, a size change or straightforward relaunch. It sometimes takes a new step to attract those who have become blind to what appears commonplace.

And then there is knowledge. There is a real thirst for this, as consumers seek what our American cousins call ‘the edge’! Quite simply, that piece of knowledge, background, snippet of history, fact or distinction that makes a product unique and different.

So what is your unique identity, that item of interest repeated around the dinner table, to friends over a glass of wine and cheese, that gets embellished with the telling? What is your edge over rivals, competitors or the region or market in general? If you have a story it needs telling succinctly and often.

So as spring and summer beckon, the smiles and positivity returns as the warmth and opportunity breaks through. It’s time, whether in image, and design, in new product or convenience, in story or history, to pump up the volume.

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