Bridgethorne: Ocado decision to stock vegetarian and vegan brands is insightful

Fry's: Ocado listing

Fry’s: Ocado listing

Ocado’s decision to capitalise on the expanding vegetarian and vegan market by stocking frozen vegetarian and vegan brand Fry’s reinforces the importance of brands and retailers understanding shopper needs and behaviours in greater detail than ever, according to a specialist in category and customer management and shopper marketing. 

Bridgethorne says the retailer’s announcement it is to stock the range of sausages, burgers and chicken style nuggets is in line with evidence that suggest sales of meat-free take home products have grown by 6.6% to £252.9m by February 2013. It reflects changing shopper behaviour as certain demographics make subtle yet definite changes to not only their diets but also their buying habits.

“Evidence suggests that, as a nation, we are embracing non-meat products more than we ever have. This may be a consequence of the horsemeat scandal, but the trend has been upwards for some time, which suggests that has only had minimal impact,” said Bridgethorne director, John Nevens.

“However, rather than acting on supposition, brands interested in capitalising on the trend need to commit to achieving a more detailed understanding of what is behind this change in our behaviour, which of us are embracing vegetarian and vegan products, and why. Then they need to be able to share those insights with retailers in order to collaboratively grow the category such that both supplier and retailer benefits as a result.”

Nevens’ thinking is based on the Bridgethorne premise that suppliers need to achieve better understanding of the journey made by both product and shopper to the point where they meet at the point of purchase, bearing in mind this point of purchase may be online as well as in-store.

“A range of factors impact on the shopper journey,” said Nevens.

“These can include dietary beliefs, the influence of other family members who consume but don’t shop for the products, convenience, price etc. Unless suppliers understand what these factors are, relative to their own products, any marketing, activation or even new product development activity will not be as informed as it could be or needs to be. This means budget being committed on the basis of guesswork.”

Bridgethorne works with suppliers to understand both the product’s and the shopper’s journey to the point of purchase. In so doing Bridgethorne said it adds value to by helping clients achieve a more informed and constructive working relationship with the retailer throigh a more informed understanding of their category and shopper.