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Membership renewals

There are many reasons to join a professional body in your sector including Professional Recognition, Information and Advice, Networking Opportunities, Magazines and Career Development obligations and courses. Balancing against these benefits is the cost!

It is common for existing members to question the value that membership delivers, but often this is when they haven’t been active in using the benefits on offer. Reducing the cost of membership may not change members concerns over value if they aren’t using what’s offered, so the answer is trying to get them engaged in what is on offer.

So how do you get members to engage?

Across many membership research projects we have found a common theme of members not being aware of the benefits on offer, despite the usual email program to bring benefits to members attention.

The answer, like so many marketing challenges, is to better understand the individual member needs and to tailor communication and offers to cut out noise about stuff that probably isn’t relevant.

A good start point is to ask members to share information about their job role, career stage, interests and likelihood to attend events and courses.

Another approach is to segment your membership base into groups with common needs. This can be done even where your relationship with a member isn’t represented in a single view and also where your data on transactions with a member (in terms of what benefits they use) is only partially complete.

A final approach is to undertake research with your members to find out how best to communicate with them, to establish which benefits are most relevant to different job roles, career stages, industry sectors and to find out what benefits are unique to your organisation and what benefits can be enjoyed from a range of sources.

It is well known that engaged members don’t lapse, so focussing on improving engagement throughout the year will pay dividends when membership renewal time arrives.

Ice-cream and packaging innovation 2019






Charities & FMCG 2018














DIY & Trade 2018













FMCG - June 2018















FMCG - April 2018

















DIY & Trade - April 2018


















FMCG - March 2018










DIY and Trade - March 2018





Ice-cream has always been an indulgent treat but some have not been able to enjoy it until now!

Allergy Friendly ice-cream
- O'My Dairy Free Gelato makes its products with a base of coconut
- Beckon, rather than targeting dairy free, its specific appeal is those  who wish to avoid lactose

Vegan friendly ice-cream
- Revolution gelato is certified organic and "made from plants"
- So Delicious, also excludes artificial flavours, colours, hydrogenated oils and trans fats
- Chimp Treats, Nicecream, is made entirely out of whipped fruit


Packaging innovation if focusing on addressing consumers growing need for sustainability.

- The Kaffree cup is an eco-friendly cup designed to be virtually indestructible, biodegradable, dishwasher-safe and reusable - and it's made from coffee grounds!
- The World Centric 'Pizza Round' box made from plant-based materials, crafted from 80% sugar cane and 20% bamboo makes it 100% compostable.
- A personal favourite, Garcon wines introduced a flat plastic wine bottle that can be put through your letterbox without shattering, alongside a 10 pack which only takes up the space of 4 regular bottles - wine racks will need to become far more innovative!


Defra to invest in redistribution, allowing charities to scale up operations

The Grocer have been successful in their ‘Waste Not Want Not’ campaign with Michael Gove’s announcing a £15m pilot scheme to subsidise the redistribution of edible food surplus.

Defra believe it will make 100,000 tonnes of edible food waste (the equivalent of 250 million meals!) available, with the money also going towards helping redistribution by 1000s of UK charities.

With more than 8 million people struggling to put food on the table this is a welcome result. However, what more can be done? What real impact do expiry and use by dates really have on consumer behaviour?


Ely bids to become UK's first 'plastic bag-free city centre'

Ely, Cambridgeshire, is one of the country’s smallest cities with a population of around 20,000. The council have gained support from shops to offer cloth and paper bags instead of plastic, as well as encouraging them to make re-useable fabric bags to use or "borrow bags" out of old fabric.

Having joined the nationwide Morsbags scheme, shops have been given fabric bags for free to give out to customers with the aim of getting them to re-use or return them.

These changes are starting to have a real impact.

Recent Defra figures have shown a 370m reduction in plastic bag usage. With £58.5m raised for charitable causes from the sale of plastic bags.


Walkers to create UK’s first nationwide recycling scheme for crisp packets

Following the growing trend in people ‘posting’ their Walkers crisps packets due to the fact they are not recyclable, Walkers have developed a nationwide recycling scheme with TerraCycle.

Providing 100s of collection points, people will be asked to drop off their packets or post them for free in a box or envelope directly to TerraCycle for recycling.

Based on today’s IPCC paper regarding the impact we have on our environment, these sorts of changes can’t come quick enough.


Seven Homebase stores close this week

Seven Homebase stores are set to close in a number of weeks with at least sixty stores due to close over the next couple of months.

The MD from Insight Retail wrote an open letter to new owners, Hilco Capital Ltd, calling for them to do things differently by putting innovation at the heart of the business in a way of attracting new younger customers.

With changes in shopping habits, Homebase need to focus on understanding their customers evolving shopping habits.


Technology growth in DIY to meet consumer needs

The growth for app based technology within the DIY sector can be seen with Akzo Nobel’s Visualizer app.

Launched in 2014 it is now available in over 60 markets and has just reached it’s 20 million mark with consumers.

The app builds on the consumer need to visualise their new wall colour before committing to purchase. Much of the concern with conducting DIY is not quite knowing what the outcome and overall effect would be, with the Visualizer looking to minimise concerns.

Technology solutions are a key innovation area within the DIY sector, brands and retailers should be looking at unmet consumer needs.


Gardening seeing an increase

The latest IMRG stats show a growth in ecommerce of +19% between March and May with a key focus on gardening which has grown +20%. Good weather has helped the UK with a real scorcher on the May Bank Holiday.

Those benefiting in this uplift are Wyevale Nurseries who are reporting year on year growth, specifically in scrub sales, herbaceous and ferns!

Looks like in our growing world of technology, down time away from it has strong appeal.



Organic shoppers expect greener packaging

A recent Soil Association survey has shown that organic shoppers expect greener packaging, with 67% expecting it to be environmentally friendly. It also showed that 30% of shoppers would buy more if it was sold loose, rather than pre-packed.

We can see changes being made with Waitrose introducing eco-trays in an effort to cut their plastic waste. Combining dried tomato vine leaves with recycled cardboard for their Duchy organic range.

Great to see leading retailers making changes, we just need them to focus on all parts including omitting the cellophane wrap!


Eco-friendly and convenient veg boxes

It’s great to see vegetable delivery boxes are building on the consumer need for greater convenience. Northern Irish grower, Flavour First, have created five vegetarian meal kits, which include recipe cards on how best to cook the dish – providing solutions for mealtimes is a key need.

I’m also loving the love for wonky veg! Oddbox who provide ‘wonky veg’ learnt that 30-40% of supermarkets are turning way edible, albeit, wonky fruit and veg, so set up a service to use rather than waste. They currently deliver within South London, I’m looking forward to them extending their reach to my postcode!

Eco credentials and convenience are key decision drivers for consumers, with brands needing to focus on these when innovating.


Millenials can't afford to eat healthily

It’s great that there are so many healthy alternatives, and suppliers, but it’s a real challenge when your young audience can’t afford it.

Insurers Aviva recently carried out a survey that found more than ¾ of 25-34yr old's were interested in eating more healthily but were unable to buy the food.

Despite our belief that Millennials are buying the next new food trend, they are found to be the age group struggling to buy it. With a slight focus on women more likely to say it was a problem, with 80% stating they struggled to afford healthy vs men at 75%, relationships with food also come into play – how can we make it accessible for all?

In light of obesity issues and the drive to eat more healthily there is a need for brands to deliver it in a cost effective way, but also educate these audiences in how it can be achieved on a budget.


Twinings leading the way in innovation

I’m watching with great interest how successful Twinings cold water infusion ‘Cold In’fuse’ will be with consumers. Still a tea bag, they have spent several years identifying the magic of releasing the flavour into cold water, focusing on botanicals and small pieces of fruit.

My interest comes from several years ago when I worked with a US company looking to launch a drinks infusion powder that is added to water to flavour it. Despite getting it all the way to meetings with buyers at top multiples the proposition just didn’t resonate. It’s a huge challenge to get consumers to change their behaviour from buying a ready mixed soft drink to one you add to water. Robinsons are having relative success with Squash’d, but the challenge of educating consumers to this way of flavouring water and understanding its proposition will be interesting to watch, especially as it’s not seen as a flavoured water or a tea, but it will be within the tea aisle.

However it could be that the drive to reduce plastic, increase in drinking more tap water, the lack of sugar and all natural ingredients could be enough – but only if the consumer knows these things!

Co-op selling Lego & Hasbro toys in store

We’re noticing a trend in retailers looking to become ‘one-stop’ shops for their customers, catering for most needs.

Recently we saw Dunelm launching into DIY by stocking essential tools, fixtures and fittings alongside their home furnishings. We are now seeing The Co-op, having successfully trialed the sale of Lego and Hasbro toys in some of their stores, now moving to 127 of their stores stocking them. Their aim is to build on the last minute and impulse purchases of their customers.

With convenience and ease one of the key drivers to consumers shopping it will be interesting to watch what else retailers will be stocking.


Alcohol free wine for cats and dogs!!

The William Reed UK Food and drink event last week at the NEC saw some interesting trends coming through. Alongside:

-The tigernut, not a nut but a small root vegetable, are seen as the next superfood great for intolerances and vegans

-Round cheese slices for burgers from The Wensleydale Creamery (why have we not seen these before now!)

-Booze infused marshmallows and fish

-But my favourite is the alcohol free wine, in white and rose for cats and dogs. Not as a drink but a gravy!

It’s great to see what’s new in FMCG and what will resonate with consumers, it doesn’t always need to be grounded in a need, as we can see above, but it definitely helps!


Is Bunnings really a big miss with all consumers?

Although Patrick O’Brien, GlobalData’s retail analyst has describe Homebase as “…undoubtedly the most disastrous retail acquisition in the UK ever,” consumers are still finding it appealing.

For all of the projects we’ve conducted with trade and DIYers, key issues that always arose are being addressed at Bunnings. The main ones being uninformed staff, too much own label and an environment females felt uncomfortable in.

Out of the 250+ Homebase stores, 23 are now Bunnings, and they are addressing these issues. Ex-tradesmen man their aisles, they offer a wide range of own label and branded items (M&S know this one) and making it a more female friendly environment, as well as appealing to the traditional male audience.

As with all innovation you need a healthy core activity – maybe if Bunnings had retained the old Homebase management, the core would have been more resilient, allowing new format Bunnings stores to be rolled out successfully.


How can sheds mimic the success of bank holiday weekends all year?

We know the reasons why Easter is one of the biggest DIY weekends for sheds - 4 days enables DIYers to get a project finished, money is replenished after Christmas, the weather is improving, spring cleans are coming up. However, what do sheds need to be doing to enable this to be the case all year round?

The key is helping DIYers achieve their projects in a small window of time. Package up the projects that can be done in a morning, day or weekend. The fear they have (or their partners), is leaving a project unfinished. Much like food retailers, offering ‘recipe’ cards and ingredients all in one location, can be replicated within sheds.

Offering full solutions for DIYers makes a project that seems daunting more achievable.


Dunelm look like an unlikely DIY competitor, but providing a one stop shop has consumer appeal.

This Easter saw Dunelm launching itself into the DIY market. Having partnered up with Amtech, they are trialing stands in 40 of their 171 stores.

This strategy is part of Dunelm’s desire to become a one-stop shop for consumers, driving footfall to their stores and ultimately increasing their destination appeal.

This approach by Dunelm is mirroring slightly where Wilkinson are trying to position themselves. Their increase in paint, general DIY and gardening is having an impact on traditional DIY sheds.

Sheds need to look at these types of retailers as challengers to their industry. Convenience, ease and the right environment are key for DIYers, especially females.


Carluccio’s will ban all plastic straws by end of March
Carluccio’s, which has 103 restaurants across the UK, will have banned all plastic straws by the end of this month. CEO Mark Jones said: ‘In 2017, Carluccio’s used 1.5 million straws across its UK business and around half a million in London alone.’ ‘Operating a large national group means we have the power to make a real difference. ‘Removing plastic straws, is us playing our part in reducing the volume of plastic that significantly damages our environment and wildlife.’
With Carluccio’s struggling to make a profit, is this move big enough for consumers to consider them – what would they really value?

Consumer trend for non-alcoholic drinks
With the sugar tax coming into effect in April and an increase in consumers opting for non-alcoholic drinks in pubs and restaurants, demand for alternative soft drinks is trending.
The latest ONS figures show 21% of adults are not drinking alcohol at all, and younger consumers, in particular, drinking less.
With this, many believe the trend towards tee-totalism should spur brands on to look at their innovation pipeline. Those that have actioned this insight already are Robinsons with their ‘Fruit Creations’ aimed at adults and Nonsuch Shrubs with their modern interpretation of the traditional ‘shrub’.
With the introduction of the minimum price per unit of alcohol in Scotland and the moving trend away from alcohol, do brands understand what components are required to replace an adult drinking occasion with a non-alcoholic one?

Sustainable skincare brand Optiat builds on growing demand for facial scrubs

Facial brand company Optiat, which is based on the ethos of ‘take, make, dispose’ set up in April 2016 with their face scrubs containing used coffee grounds.
They have now built on this range by creating a new soap bar range using used chai spices.
The brand came about after siblings, William & Anna Brightman, realised that 500,000 tonnes of coffee grounds go to Landfill. Combined with the public awareness that alternatives to micro-beads needed to be found.
With new IRI market data showing that four out of ten top selling facial scrub brands use clay, sugar, salt or fruits as alternatives to plastic microbeads, Optiat are well placed to grow their brand.
This development highlights the double win that brands can achieve. Sustainability in replacing microbeads and building on environmental product appeal for consumers – how could your brand achieve a double win?

Ikeas founder Feodor Ingvar Kamprad dies aged 91
Whilst Ikea still suffer the flat pack assembly nightmare image, they started something that is still a theme of our times – de-skilling trade tasks. If you asked the average person on the street to build a bookcase then they might struggle, but ask them to assemble an Ikea bookcase and most will have a go and get it done. The trend of de-skilling skilled tasks continues with press fit plumbing and even velcro wall tiles.
How could you de-skill how your products are used?

Toolstation has announced its landmark 300th branch
… it will open in Eastleigh on 23rd February 2018. At a time when many national retailers are reducing their branch networks through closure what is Toolstation getting right?
In our view:
# Low rents on warehousing – industrial estate space
# Trade centered feel – get in and out quickly (but may be an intimidating environment for DIY’ers who don’t know quite what they are after)
# Well thought out range
# Some outlets in Wickes, but has this been a success? Confusion of mixed branding?
Have you considered a consumer led innovation project or category review?

Telephone customer service matters

I may be a bit grumpy but it seems harder and harder to get good customer service over the phone. A recent survey of DIY retailers, by people shopping online found that 42% of people questioned thought DIY stores offered no more than just a basic level of contact ability and query resolution, with only 13% considering them to be excellent.

It also found that delivery services were rated poor by more people than any other sector (24%) with just 10% scoring them as excellent.
A key driver for this poor contact ability seems to be companies’ failure to understand the speed at which consumers expect queries to be resolved online. When people can buy an item or service in a matter of minutes and through just a few clicks, they also expect answers to any questions they may have just as quickly. Failure to provide clear contact details for a range of channels, along with someone at the other end to respond, very quickly, results in a frustrated customer more than happy to go elsewhere, and being left with a poor experience and brand perception.

How can you ensure customers are left with a good experience?