by Kate Chaudy
We recently compiled one of our quarterly ‘trend reports’ in London and focused on the topic of healthy eating. We are spoilt for choice now with brands offering healthy grab-n-go deals catering for the more health-conscious, busy worker, who is looking for a one-stop-shop that can cater for his or her needs, be it gluten-free, clean-eating, vegan, paleo or any similar trendy diet. The create-your-own is back in full swing to meet these changing and evolving tastes – design your own salad or sandwich to suit your dietary demands, know that your food is fresh and sustainably sourced – preferably locally too, and critically, give your customer something they want to share. And I don’t mean giving away half of their meal to a friend, I mean talking about online and joining the rapidly evolving and influential conversation that is causing our High Street to sit up and listen.
If you enter #cleaneating into Instagram you are faced with 20,823,416 posts. That’s not taking into account variations, such as #clean, #eatclean, #cleaneats, #cleanfood #cleanliving and so on. Instagram, more so than other social networks, has played a major part in this trend explosion and has played a huge role in influencing traditional marketing plans for all sorts of brands, whether food, fitness, lifestyle and even art and fashion. It doesn’t really seem to matter that the term ‘clean eating’ is quite ambiguous – is it raw, organic, vegetarian? The hashtags are image-driven and transcend countries and cultures – the community is now global and established brands have had to adapt to changing tastes driven online. The topic of clean-eating was even discussed on Newsnight a few weeks ago – that’s how influential these trends are becoming.
From a marketing perspective, a fascinating inclusion to our trend report is the Mae Deli, a new healthy-eating concept in Marylebone and a site that has evolved from the enormous (and now global) popularity of a blogger named Ella Woodward, aka Deliciously Ella. She started a blog based on the concept of ‘clean-eating’ after battling an illness that left her bedbound and she was forced to evaluate and change her diet. It’s this authentic motivation that has been pivotal in her brand explosion. She is now everywhere and her cookbook broke records in becoming the fastest-selling debut cookbook since records began (beating the likes of food giants Nigella and Jamie). And it had an unprecedented amount of pre-orders fuelled by the popularity of her growing blog. She’s played a major role in making kale fashionable and her Instagram feed has influenced the diets and lives of people all over the world – she made it accessible yet fashionable, making it look as though going back to basics and eating freshly prepared homemade food rather than a meal at a trendy restaurant, was in fact, cooler. And the most astonishing part is that this is a trend that was driven by social media and has now influenced the High Street – the Mae Deli doesn’t even have a website and yet on a visit, it was packed. Walking in, everything was recognisable – I’d even say it was ‘experiential marketing’ of a social media account! The brand continuation is evident, the message is clear, and it’s been astonishingly successful. So it’s no surprise people are jumping on the bandwagon and following suit. Ella is also the ‘walking brand’ – her diets are popular because she’s a picture of health after overcoming health problems and contributes this all to changing her eating patterns and eating ‘clean.’ The fact we can all aspire to living her West-London lifestyle, running a successful empire, exercising daily and effortlessly whilst still finding time to prepare delicious brightly coloured, delicious yet healthy meals adds to her appeal – yet seeing her living the brand each day on social media makes her accessible – we believe we can be the same and we can be a part of the community through the clever uses of social media and hashtags.
It’s so interesting to see the changes being made within established, successful brands as the social conversation gets louder- the traditional ‘word of mouth’ message spreading has been taken to another level and the potential global reach alongside the relative lack of expense has never been so appealing. However, as proven in the case of Deliciously Ella, in order for this to be truly effective, it needs to be consistent, very carefully structured (which is time consuming), with a clear, simple message that makes it easy and appealing for users to engage with. It needs to have a purpose and be recognizable across various channels, becoming familiar and something users can feel a part of – which then allows them to feel part of the community and want to share. This is now the direction in which we are heading – the question is, who’s going to be able to keep up?
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