Playing the British card
19 Jan 2017

The clock is ticking. Theresa May has signalled that the UK will take a tough negotiating stance over the next two years as the country prepares to leave the EU.

Sterling increased a little during her speech, however, the pound is down about 20% against the dollar and 13% against the euro since the June referendum. My colleague James Walton has said that the impact of sterling weakness on imported food and drink in the UK, if prolonged, is likely to be inflationary in the mid to long-term.

No-one can be sure which way sterling will move next but shoppers are starting to think more about saving money as they anticipate an increase in food prices. Our latest ShopperVista monthly update shows that 76% expect food prices to rise over the next year compared to just 50% before the referendum (May’16).

If they are correct and sterling remains subdued, this will boost the appeal of products made in Britain.

More important to buy British food now UK is leaving EU

Base: 1,700+ ALL shoppers, Dec’16

A surge in patriotism could be another important factor, with 45% believing it’s more important to buy British-produced food now the UK has voted to leave the EU.

Strong interest in British food and drink

Base: 1,700+ ALL shoppers, Dec’16

So for various reasons, there is a strong willingness to buy British. Three in four (73%) say they try to buy British food and drink if it is available, mainly with the motivation to support British food manufacturers and jobs.

Support for British food

Base: 1,700+ ALL shoppers, Dec’16

Adding value for your category

While shoppers want to see more British food in-store, demonstrating value for money will still be vital. Three in four will only choose more British food if it provides superior value for money. Half say there aren’t enough promotions specifically on British food. Only 7% disagree.

British or local helps identify products as higher quality

Base: 1,003 ALL main shoppers, June’16

Interest in provenance does vary by category, so it is important to understand the relevance of British or local when shoppers buy your particular products. The table above highlights the top categories where shoppers associate British or local with higher quality.

Being transparent

With 46% believing supermarkets could offer more information about where food comes from (only 17% disagree), it is important, wherever possible, to understand how your brand can meet this demand for provenance. There is a clear advantage if you can provide transparency in your product labelling to promote the place of origin for your ingredients.

Transparency importance by shopper segment

Base: 1,700+ ALL shoppers, Dec’16

However, this focus on transparency is not shared equally among all shoppers. We have identified six shopper segments driven by values and attitudes. Ethics and transparency is key for three of these groups: Foodie adventurists, Technology Adopters and Habitual Loyalists.

This segmentation can help you to assess the fit with your shopper profile and tailor your messages accordingly.

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