"Perceptions can change, it just takes a change in approach to food, marketing and messaging in equal measure."
It was another successful year for the Lunch! show, with an event full of vibrant food stalls serving up some delicious samples and great insight.
Nutrition’s impact on brand
There was a clear theme this year with every stall looking to emphasize the health benefits of the food. In the past food could just taste good, now it has to do good. And this has a big impact on marketing, messaging and brand.
David Ross, head of category at Greggs, spoke about the difficulties of changing the perception of your brand. As soon as you read Greggs, I’m sure your head filled with the thought of sausage rolls and doughnuts. This is a brand association that Greggs has spent the last 4 years trying to change.
Ross said that if you are part of the obesity problem, you need to be part of the solution. In 2014, Greggs launched a balanced choice menu, contributing to 42 products on the menu. Ross referred to the fact Greggs is committed to meeting the Public Health England 20% sugar reduction on all products by 2020.
If it keeps going down this path, read the word Greggs in a couple of years’ time, and there won’t be a sausage roll in your head.
How to change the perception of your brand
Jack Hinchliffe, innovation director at KFC, was having a similar problem to Greggs. They were being marked as junk food that uses mutated chickens to make their food. Not the best image. So, how could they change that?
Hinchliffe felt that to make a real difference they needed to be disruptive, so they launched the campaign ‘the whole chicken and nothing but the chicken’. The eye-catching campaign featured a live chicken, something that had been avoided in previous campaigns as they were keen to avoid the link between a live chicken and their fried chicken. After much deliberation the advert was launched.
It became the most complained about advert of 2017 in the UK with 755 complaints. Despite this, people were no longer associating the fried chicken with battery hens or mutated chickens, they were associating it with a live healthy chicken that happens to love east coast hip hop. It caused disruption and it got people thinking. Marketing doesn’t really get better than that.
The truth is, being the company they are people will always have a bone to pick. So, they stopped trying to appeal to them and worked to change their perception in order to not get left behind.
And even after some well documented delivery issues stopped a lot of their chickens crossing roads all across the UK, their brand is looking stronger than ever.
A changing approach to marketing
Both Ross and Hinchliffe alluded to the same point; the foodservice industry evolves so quickly that if you are not ready to adapt you will get left behind. KFC is continuing its new look and feel, updating all of their restaurants and promoting the story of Colonel Sanders. Meanwhile Greggs is becoming an innovator in the way it presents its menus, showing the traffic light system on all products online as well as in store.
And their approach to marketing is shifting. Instead of spending millions in TV adverts they are focussing on marketing stunts. ‘Gregory and Gregory’ saw the brand go undercover at a food festival, to the shock and awe of guests. Meanwhile, ‘Ministry of Greggs’ saw a massive rave in a Greggs store, with attendees enjoying steak bakes and doughnuts. This had a huge reach. My invite must have got lost in the post.
What this all shows is that perceptions can change, you just have to change your approach to food, marketing and messaging in equal measure.