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“Traditional Christmas fayre, such as mince pies, Christmas cake, Christmas puddings and the like have been on the wane for the past three years, and I expect that people will continue to want new, innovative and quirky this Christmas too,” says Paul Hargreaves of Cotswold Fayre. “I’m not sure they will want to be reminded that they didn’t manage to have a holiday in 2020!”
However, Matt Botham, strategic insight director at Kantar, says shops are likely to focus on good quality essentials rather than innovative and less-tested products. “But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to excite shoppers with new festive lines,” he adds.
Hayley Waters, marketing manager at Springvale Foods, believes that a large proportion of shoppers will opt for the classics for their own tables. “Who doesn’t love a classic Christmas pudding covered in lashings of brandy sauce? Or a cheese board piled high with savoury biscuits and a classic red onion chutney?”
But when it comes to food and drink gifting, she expects to see demand for unique products. “I wouldn’t recommend that retailers steer away from the classics, but agree that they should be incorporating some continental brands and unique UK products into their ranges that they may have overlooked in previous years.”
As well as considering what their customers will be looking for, SMEs should take time to think about how food and drink will be consumed differently this year. Fiona Fitzpatrick, food and beverage growth consultant and host of the podcast Brand Growth Heroes, says: “You might still be buying Christmas pudding, but you might be buying smaller ones because you know you’re not going to have everybody there for the day. And that might need a change in the packaging format, a change in price or a change in delivery methods.”
This Christmas may also see a shift towards ambient and frozen products, such as frozen turkeys, as shoppers are likely to be heading to the store less frequently. To prepare for these changes, Fiona suggests taking a step back to really consider what consumers are thinking, feeling and doing at the moment. “Each SME should be asking themselves how will [their customers] be shopping differently based on the new context,” Fiona says.