Are the Brand Killers coming after your brand?

*Download our full Brand Killers report, or read on for a taster*

They look innocent enough. Fresh-faced, enthusiastic, passionate about their products and driven by an almost missionary zeal to make things taste better and consumers feel better about themselves and what they are doing to the planet. But their wonderful products and engaging stories mask a darker reality for the world’s leading food and drink brand owners. These artisan producers, with their teas, sauces, breads, chocolates, gins and beers might be Brand Killers. What might have begun as a hipster phenomenon, reserved for the more bohemian urban quarters, is becoming mainstream. These ‘brand killers’ are gaining shelf space – often at the expense of big, established brands – and most importantly a share of many consumers’ wallets. They have tapped into and are exploiting profound shifts in consumer attitudes and behaviour, such as a growing interest among many consumers in healthier and more ethical product ingredients and a desire for something different from the generic branded offer.

We were inspired by the rise of the Brand Killers to undertake a serious study into their motivations and the trends that are driving consumers towards their shops and carts. We spoke to many of the most interesting entrepreneurs in the UK food and drink sector to better understand what was driving them and why they are winning market share from some of the world’s most high-profile and well-funded brands. We also analysed how the leading brand owners are responding to this phenomenon – the very fact that many are launching new (faux artisan) sub brands, attempting to rediscover their artisan routes through packaging and marketing and spending millions buying-up some of the most successful start-ups underlines their level of concern.

Our Brand Killers report, which we launched today, combines new qualitative research with an analysis of the latest market and trends data which shows that , far from representing a short-lived’ ‘hipster’ phenomenon, the ‘artisanal’ or ‘craft’ movement is having a significant and sustained impact on many categories within the food and drink sector.

Our report also highlights seven fundamental principles that brand owners should consider adopting if they are to respond successfully to the ‘brand killers’ and ride the artisanal wave:

1. Focus on product quality as a direct consequence of ingredients and production methods, especially where the role of individual craftspeople can be highlighted.

2. Keep innovating and experimenting

3. Celebrate provenance – a sense of place

4. Show-case the passion and personalities of the people behind the brand and make sure their values are shared by the wider team

5. Articulate the origin stories and myths behind the brand … most major brands were once the product of artisans and entrepreneurs

6. Be honest – a faux craft strategy is counterproductive … consumers will spot the artifice.

7. Think and work like a start-up