• Two project focuses this week, both working with the same agency – the first time I’ve worked with them. I’m enjoying it very much so far.

  • The first involves developing a new confectionery brand aimed at a young adult audience, with all the generational trickiness that goes along with that. Teenagers are fickle, trend-driven, and a paradoxical mix of childishness and wannabe-adulthood. They’re a difficult audience to target, but they control a surprising amount of spending power – so worth it if you can get it right.

  • And the other getting stuck into a long-established biscuits and crackers brand, to try to figure out where growth might come from. An established player in a mature or even stagnant category always makes for an interesting brief. Do you take the risk of trying to kick-start the category and make it relevant to a new audience, with the heft and authority you have within it, knowing that as the market leader the benefits of a growing category will accrue mostly to you? Or do you use that mature category as a base to fund forays into adjacent categories that don’t need jump-starting, but where you have less credibility? There’s arguments for both; our job is to figure out which is best.

  • The monthly ONS retail figures came out this week, and made for grim reading. Two statistics leapt out at me. The first is the widening gulf between sales volume (in decline, and now below even pre-pandemic levels) and sales value (in growth), reflecting the inflationary environment we’re in:

    People are buying less stuff, but paying more for it. Difficult times to be a luxury brand or a discretionary purchase.

    The second is the fact that food store sales volumes tipped into decline for the first time in a while:

    That reflects the cost-of-living crisis continuing to bite, but the overall numbers also mask the fact that independent retail has faced a particularly severe decline. Supermarkets are hoovering up more and more budget-conscious spending, and people are focusing on the essentials. Bad times to be an independent retailer, or a brand sold in that channel.