“Less stuff and more stories” is quite an interesting trend, but is it a red flag or an opportunity for business? I followed the recent Wine and Food Conference on Twitter and this was one of the questions asked by trend analyst Dion Chang trying to give the industry some fresh perspective on where the world is at.
“Less stuff”, in my opinion, can point at various aspects of our business. On the one hand it addresses the trend for exclusion. In the food and wine industry, it is removing or reducing elements from food and drink for the benefit of health. The free-movement includes alcohol free, gluten free, diary free, meat free, sugar free, fat free, preservative free… and has lead to the boom of, among others, low-alcohol and vegan alternatives.
For the traditional food and beverage provider, this is, of course, a challenge. But as always, there is opportunity. You can extend your expertise in the industry to include some of these products to your offering. Earlier this year, we introduced a de-alcoholised pair of red and white to the Leopard’s Leap Wines portfolio. Yes, the trend might be about exclusion, but I think it is almost more about having a choice. Today’s consumer wants to feel like you have considered their needs and given them an option.
The concept of “less stuff” can also be about how we share our information. We might be passionate about sharing the technicalities of our offering and while the consumer might be more interested about ingredients and origin than in the past, they want education to be entertaining. How we share has to be developed from a consumer perspective. It is less about the stuff and more about the story.
Industry today has the opportunity to tell the story about their product in many innovative ways. Social media, and the ease with which visuals and video can be produced, have made it so much easier to engage consumers with your stories. Chang said that people really just want to be happy. Happiness comes from when they feel valued. When their needs are considered and they get an option to participate or give their input for augmentation. They want to have a choice. But how do brands manage this?
From a product perspective, it is of course about research, staying up to date and keeping an open mind and innovative approach to product development. From an experience side, telling stories might seem easier, but again, it is less about putting your stuff out there and more about engaging the guest or customer and making them feel part of your story. It is about inclusion. This is quite a tall order and it seems like today’s consumers expect a whole lot of emotional intelligence from companies – whether you communicate online or directly via your frontline team.
Consumers want to be invited to share in your story, but brands have to be sensitive in the way they engage. Today’s consumers are aware and informed and they interpret stories. They are also sensitive to social issues such as diversity and cultural tolerance. It is very important to consider all of these when telling your story and inviting consumers to be involved. Less stuff and more stories is a true and clever line, but it seems there is much more to it.