Innovation and enterprise blog

22 posts categorized "Food and drink"

09 December 2014

Giving young people a taste for business with Citrus Saturday

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Citrus saturday logoThe simple aim of Citrus Saturday is to introduce young people aged 11-15 to the challenges of running their own business in a fun, safe and organised way. It provides the young people taking part with the materials and locations to make and sell lemonade for a day and provides them with support, mentoring and training to help them to make business decisions that can lead to them making a profit that they can choose to keep. 

Citrus Saturday started life as a small-scale initiative by UCL Advances in Camden in 2011 but events have since taken off on an international basis. In 2012 Citrus Saturdays were held in Dublin, Edinburgh and Somerset. In 2013 they expanded to Belgium, Swaziland and Mozambique and, in 2014, Spain, Germany, France and Greece were added to the list.

The reason that has this been so internationally successful is that the organisers have developed a range of resources, checklists and templates which makes running the events easy with particular attention given to the practical and legal issues arising from working with young people.

Citrus Saturday at the British Library

It has also benefitted from being part of the Interreg IVB funded Open Innovation Project which has meant that it had the support of other project partners in North West Europe who hosted many of the events outside London. The British Library Business & IP Centre is also a partner in the Open Innovation project and we were delighted to be able to host a Citrus Saturday stall on the BL piazza as part of the 2014 London Citrus Saturday.

Citrus Saturday AfricaPlans for the future are ambitious and Citrus Saturday are looking to run a programme for 2,000 children in Swaziland and have created a campaign on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.





Nigel Spencer on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

11 November 2014

What’s new on… Datamonitor Consumer

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One of the resources we provide here at the British Library Business & IP Centre is free access to a number of business and intellectual property databases; helping entrepreneurs and businesses to research trends, markets and companies, and to utilise and protect their IP. If you’ve ever wondered what the market trends are in a particular industry, how to write a business plan, or where to search for trademark registrations, then you can use our databases to find out. The databases are regularly updated and in a monthly blog series, we take a look at what’s new.

This month, we look at the Datamonitor Consumer database, which provides analysis of the global consumer goods market. Spanning areas including food and drink, cosmetics and toiletries, pet care and household products, the database covers key category, consumer, innovation and marketing trends and includes product launch and market data analytics tools.

Datamonitor is particularly useful for identifying key trends and innovations in a specific industry or market sector; helping users to analyse opportunities and gaps in the market. Another key feature is the ‘Successes and failures’ series; helpful for those wishing to examine the strategies behind successful products. Datamonitor also provides market data and statistics.

Readers can download up to 20 pages of text per day from Datamonitor.

Below is a selection of the latest reports:

Product Innovation Updates:

Reports drawing out some of the themes, trends and recent innovations in a particular industry, as well as identifying the underlying trends driving product innovation in this area.

•    Sauces, Dressings, Condiments, and Spreads Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Skincare Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Spirits Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Snack Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Ready Meals Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Male Grooming Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Hot Drinks Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Non-Carbonated Soft Drinks Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Household Care Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Oral Hygiene Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Make-Up Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Dairy Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Fragrance Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Haircare Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Functional Food and Drinks Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Confectionery Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Beer Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Carbonated Soft Drinks Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Bakery and Cereals Product Innovation Update – September 2014
•    Baby Personal Care Product Innovation Update – September 2014

Category insights

Reports outlining the most important consumer and product trends impacting a particular industry globally.

The reports include global consumer insight analysis, case studies and product examples. Key considerations and potential opportunities are identified based on consumer preferences and recent product innovations in this category.

  • Consumer and Innovation Trends in Suncare 2014


Reports identifying and examining key cross-industry innovation and trends, from new product development to organisational structures.

  • Retrophilia

Innovation Tracking

Detailed analysis of new products, innovation or trends.

  • Will Coca-Cola Life revive the carbonates industry?
  • Packaging Innovation of the Month: cupcake cream is child's play

Successes and Failures

Case studies analysing the success or failure of a particular product or service, with insights into specific sectors as well as the relevant consumer trends and attitudes that drive innovation success

  • Success: Nivea "Sun Block Ad"
  • Success: Kellogg's Special K Flatbread
  • Success: Ragú's Rebrand
  • Failure: Kashi

 Health and Nutrition

Reports identifying and analysing key innovations and trends across the health and nutrition sector. 

  • Trends to Watch in Cough, Cold, and Flu
  • Functional Nutrition: Energy

Sally Jennings on behalf of Business & IP Centre

07 November 2014

Book review - Noon, with a View by Stephen Fear

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Noon with a View Courage and IntegrityGulam Noon was born and raised in India and lived in Mumbai. Having strong family values retained since childhood he joined the family business “Royal Sweets” and worked hard to expand the business. He left India in 1966 and came to London to find his fortune.

Having spent some time setting up businesses in both the UK and America – including expansion of his family business Royal Sweets, he established Noon Products in 1987 which led him to be known as the Curry king - credited with having created the UK’s favourite dish - Chicken Tikka Masala and favoured spicy snack - Bombay mix.

Noon Products in Southall produces food that tastes like its “Made in India”. Today, the company manufactures over 500 different chilled and frozen ready meals from factories in Southall and is sold in all the large supermarkets, the powerful motivation behind the brand was to create Indian food at its best.

Lord Noon is a man with integrity, honesty and social conscience, and talks candidly within the book about many aspects of his life including becoming embroiled in the cash for honours scandal in 2006 an episode which he was completely exonerated from.

The book written 5 years ago, is an inspiring read for any entrepreneur wanting to understand how to create wealth with integrity and honesty whilst retaining and cherishing relationships with friends and family since childhood. I wanted to quote the following passage from the book:
Quotation (Pg 85)

“I realise that anything I do through the foundation is just a drop in the huge ocean of suffering. I often explain my action by telling the story of a young man sitting by the sea shore. Each wave leaves behind it hoards of fish gasping for breath, the young man picks up as many as he can and throws them back into the water, he cannot possibly keep up. A passer-by asks him what he is doing as he seems to be wasting his time. There are so many fish that most of them will die before he can get to them . The passer by asks what difference he thinks he is making?Undeterred the young man picks up another fish, tosses it back into the water and watches it swim away – it made a big difference to that one he said.”

This sums Lord Gulam Noon up in my opinion, he is a man prepared to help individuals or groups in any way he can. In recognition of this Lord Gulam Noon has been awarded various honours including an M.B.E and most recently in January 2011, he was created a life peer as Baron Noon, of St John's Wood and was introduced in the House of Lords where he sits on the Labour benches.
Within the epilogue of the book, Lord noon mentions Noon Hospital a state of the art community hospital back in his birth place of Mumbai.

In summary – this book is an inspirational read for anyone, in particular those starting out in business looking for inspiration through a story full of courage and integrity. Lord Noon is a true patriot of the UK and a lover and patriot of India too.

Business Biography Book Reviews at the British Library By Dr Stephen Fear - October 2014
Noon, with a View: Courage and Integrity (Dec 2008) by Gulam Kaderbhoy Noon, Baron Noon MBE - ISBN 978-1-904445-79-1

26 September 2014

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Movers and Shakers

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Monday night’s event in partnership with Barclays and screened in the Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester Business & IP Centres, as well as Exeter and New York, aimed to inspire entrepreneurs to create new markets and take the UK by storm!

Barclays logoThe speakers talked about their journeys in creating some of the most exciting new products and services on the market today, and re-imagined existing markets in the world of digital, beauty and food.

Michael Acton-SmithFirst on stage was Michael Acton-Smith OBE, CEO and founder of Mind Candy, creators of childrens phenomenen Moshi Monsters.

Michael has been described by the Daily Telegraph as "a Rock Star version of Willy Wonka" and by the Independent as "a polite version of Bob Geldolf".

 He shared his roller-coaster ride over the last fifteen years and some of the lessons learnt. When he first started in business with his school-friend partner, he imagined his life would be something like Tom Hanks in the movie Big in which he gets to spend his days playing with toys. They decided the newly emerging World Wide Web would be the best place to sell gadgets and toys to adults. The online world was so new they had very little competition, but sadly for the same reason they also had very few customers in the beginning.

 Chess-setTo help raise money to fund the venture they sold their bodies to medical science (for a week anyway) and raised £400 each. A big early lesson learnt was being careful about the name of your business. They soon discovered that although was a nice catchy web address, was a well-established pornography website in the United States.

This led to some embarrassing conversations with friends and family. A name change to FireBox  soon followed and the business began in earnest with their first best-seller a shot-glass chess drinking game.

 PetRock1Michael was a fan of video games on his ZX Spectrum computer, and this inspired the creation of MindCandy. Their first game was based on Masquerade, the best-selling book and treasure hunt by Kit Williams. Sadly PerplexCity turned out to be a commercial disaster, with the lesson learnt, to do market research before you pursue a personal passion.

He explained how Moshi Monsters was inspired by the success of the simple idea that became the Pet Rock phenomenon. After a slow start during the first two years, growth became rapid, leading to the 80 million PopJamregistered users today.

The brand now has now expanded offline to include books, toys, music, trading cards, video games and even a big screen movie. Understanding the temporary nature of all internet services, Michael is now looking to his next project PopJam, designed for mobile devices.

 Michael’s tips for success included, think big - but start small. And look at the opportunities the disruptive power of the internet and new technologies create for business.




Vanita PartiNext up was Vanita Parti founder of Blink Brow Bar. Vanita pioneered walk-in eyebrow bars and is largely responsible for bringing the ancient technique of threading into the 21st century.

Her ‘lightbulb’ moment came in 2004 after many happy years working as a brand manager for British Airways. But the time demands of two small children and full-time work were not compatible. Starting her own business was the answer to having more time for her family, and she recognised a gap in the market having to travel across London to get her own eyebrows threaded.

The initial phase involved trying to find and speak to the right people in department stores. This proved very tricky and resulted in lots of negative responses. This is where tip no.1 comes into play - be unashamedly persistent. Fenwick’s of Bond Street was the only store prepared to try out her idea. And with just one chair, instead of the relaxing coffee lounge Vanita imagined. From this small beginning, thanks to word-of-mouth marketing and loyalty cards, the brand grew gradually into other department stores.

Protecting her trade mark and brand were some  of the issues that Vanita felt she needed help, with the onset of competition. But for Vanita maintaining the premium level of the brand was crucial, and this involved turning down quite a few offers along the way. Ten years on Blink Brow Bars are now in 25 locations, and are just about to launch in the USA. In the early days Vanita was upset when staff she had recruited and trained left to set up rival brow bars, but she realised that competition is a fact of business. The key is to keep on step ahead, and to always maintain the quality of the brand. Her brand promise is to take the pain out of beauty regimes and leave women looking and feeling fabulous.

Vanita’s top tips were:

  • Understand what a brand is
  • Have a vision and don’t give up on it
  • Don’t be distracted from your ‘main thing’
  • Be unashamedly persistent
  • Have a financial plan - you need to make money to protect your business
  • Keep it interesting - repackaging something existing be a successful strategy

 Sam BompasFinally we had the flamboyant Sam Bompas co-founder of Bompas & Parr, who specialise in flavour-based experience design, culinary research, architectural installations and contemporary food design.

From 2007, when Bompas & Parr was founded as a craft jellymonger, the studio has rapidly grown from just Sam Bompas and Harry Parr to its current complement of ten - a team of creative specialists, designers, architects, cooks, technicians and administrators who work across a wide range of projects.

Projects include a fruit salad inspired jelly boating lake in Kew Gardens, multi-sensory fireworks for London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations and a neon jelly chamber.

Sam strode onto the stage in his shiny shirt and colourful trousers and immediately asked for a volunteer. After a rather lengthy pause, a brave member of the audience came forward. His job was to time Sam’s talk. But instead of holding a stop-watch, he was asked to hold a small piece of Gallium, on the basis that it would take about 15 minutes to melt in his hand. There was the slight problem due to the poisonous nature of Gallium, so a rubber glove was added.

Sam started his talk by telling us he has never taken on investment, and doesn’t really aim to make money - just to have fun with new ideas.

He skipped through a set of intriguing slides, ranging from architectural jellies to a breast bouncy castle recently installed in the New York Museum of Sex for an erotic themed event.

Sam’s ‘lightbulb’ moment was eating an expensive jar of mushroom pate from his local Borough Market, and discovering it only contained about three percent mushrooms. He reasoned the same principle applied to Jelly, except on a more extreme level, and with water instead of butter. How could they not make lots of money?

Unfortunately the jelly stall project got off to a bad start as they couldn’t afford the moulds, discovered jelly making is actually really difficult, and Borough Market said no. But the jelly idea stuck and they combined Harry Parr’s architectural training to produce a jelly mould of St Pauls Cathederal.

Jelly St Pauls

They learned the tricky technique of jelly making the hard way, with regular outbreaks of the dreaded ‘jelly finger’, But sadly never mastered the ambitious ‘wobbly bridge’ jelly.  Another lesson was that it very difficult to make large sculptures made of jelly even with the best made moulds.

The next step was to hold an architectural jelly banquet, for which the tickets sold out in days. The only problem was the high expectations of their customers, which they met by making the banquet an experiential event.

As you can probably tell, Sam is always thinking about the next project. His most important tip was to do something you love, and that stories are crucial in business.

He wouldn’t leave the stage without a quick demonstration of his current obsession - gherkin light-bulbs. He plucked three from a jar and pushed them onto a rather dangerous looking contraption. On the count of three from the audience he plugged this device into the mains. At this point I was glad to be sitting at the back of the room. However, there was no explosion, and after a short delay the gherkins glowed brightly.

Later on during our Questions and Answers session, moderator Matthew Rock mentioned that Bompas and Parr’s financial records seemed quite healthy, and all this talk of Jelly and parties were on a profitable business.


Neil Infield and Seema Rampersad on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

13 June 2014

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Going Global

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BarclaysLast Monday was our Going Global Inspiring Entrepreneurs event kindly sponsored by Barclays Bank. As well as the audience in the British Library conference centre, the speakers were also screened live in the Newcastle Business & IP Centre in their Central Library.

Once again the evening was ably chaired and moderated by Matthew Rock, DueDil editor-in-chief and Real Business co-founder.

First up was Will Butler-Adams Managing Director Brompton Bicycle.

Bromptons were first produced in 1988 and are famous for their folding design. Over the last twelve years, Butler-Adams has transformed them from a niche company to the UK’s biggest bike-maker. Brompton now make over 52,000 bikes per year and employs approximately 230 workers. All Bromptons are designed and built in West London and are exported to more than 44 countries with 80% of sales from overseas.

Will Butler AdamsWill started with a short demonstration on the stage of how quick and easy it is to unfold a Brompton bike. He explained that the bike is pretty much all they do, and admitted that although the engineering is sexy, the bike is not something that will attract the ‘birds’.

Will talked about how he met the inventor of the bike and was entrance by the product and the potential for the company that he felt was stuck in the dark ages. At that point it had 24 staff, sales of £1.7 million. They now make a profit of £27.5 million and have a staff of 240. They make 950 bikes a week and sell to 44 countries, “and its bloody good fun”.

For a long time Brompton was a business where they couldn’t make enough product to meet demand. The easy answer would have been to stay with home market as the profits are bigger and you have more control over distribution. He said it takes about five years for the bike to become established into a new market. But that you should believe everyone who tells you how complicated exporting is.

Will’s advice is to treat it like a holiday. Choose a market you think has potential. Get the UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) to help you research the local market and check out the local trade shows. But don’t spend too long doing research or you might never get started. Then meet local people and get an understanding of their market. He explained how they tackled the China market cautiously, and how in that case unusually they own the distribution and retail outlets.

He said Brompton don’t focus on the business or the brand, instead they focus on producing the best product and service for their customers. He feels strongly that these are the most important asset of any business. It takes longer but it gives you a solid basis to build your business on.

Sian-Sutherland-High-Res-nsm-e1370516678624Next was Sian Sutherland, Founding Partner & CEO of Mama Mio and Mio Skincare

Sian is a serial entrepreneur with a varied background in advertising, restaurants, film production and brand creation, Sian was an early winner of the National Magazines’ Entrepreneur of the Year for her first business, British Female Inventor of the Year and received the coveted CEW Achiever Award in 2010.

After creating a new beauty category with their maternity skincare brand Mama Mio eight years ago, she launched their second brand, Mio, focused on the fitness market. Their approach has always been to behave differently as a beauty business; giving their ‘fit skin for life’ brands a distinctive and very approachable personality developing a unique position in the skincare market.

Sian explained how Mio is the most selfish skin-care brand on the market. They work on the principle that if it works for the founders then it will work for their customers.

Mio is aimed at active women and promises to give them fit skin for their whole life.

This new brand grew out of Mama Mio which is for pregnancy and is already available in 18 countries  through 4,000 stores and spas. In addition 30% of sales are through their website. For instance Germany is now their fourth biggest market but sales are only available online.

Sian outlined several lessons she had learned over the years including the number one lesson for trading in China - register your trademarks first.

1.    Have a plan
a.    But make sure it’s your roadmap and not a straightjacket
b.    Be able to measure your success
2.    Do a few things really well
a.    Don’t spread yourself too thin, and don’t try to do everything at once
b.    Seek like-minded partners who want to create like-minded businesses
3.    Be distinctive
a.    The UK doesn’t need more stuff
b.    And nor does the rest of the world
c.    So work out why your products will sell
4.    Be where your customers are
a.    Be in the right stores, on the right sites, in their homes, at the right events
5.    Invest in spreading the buzz
6.    Use your size
a.    It can be a huge advantage to be small and nimble

Karan-Bilimoria-headshot-black-1-590x786Finally onto the stage was Karan Bilimoria.

Founder and Chairman of Cobra Beer which he founded in Bangalore South India in 1990, it has grown into a £126 million business which exports to nearly 50 countries. In 2006 he became a member of the House of Lords and he is the founder and president of Zoroastrian Chamber of Commerce. Lord Bilimoria has been a strong supporter of the Business & IP Centre since it first opened, and has spoken at a number of our events over the years.

His introduction was to get everyone in the audience to ask themselves a question - what is the purpose of your life and how will you measure your achievement? For him it has been about aspiration, inspiration and perspiration, and the attitude that an entrepreneur will never take a ‘no’ as a ‘no’. Starting a business is always against all odds - it is a David vs Goliath challenge.

One of the biggest challenges a start-up faces is overcoming the credibility gap – the answer is to have faith, passion and belief in your product and brand. But you also need to be ready to ‘Adapt or Die’ to changing circumstance and different markets.

Karan spelt out his Eight P’s of business success.
-    Have the right Product
-    At the right Price
-    In the right Place
-    Promotion is key
-    Phinance is essential
-    Passion will drive the business
-    Without Profit the business will not survive

He ended his session with an entertaining advertisement showing a fictional boss running Cobra beer by day and Braco a brassiere company by night.

A lively question time followed moderated by Matthew Rock and included Will Butler-Adams telling the audience not to get too obsessed by being made in the UK. The most important thing is providing the best quality and value for money for your customers.

When asked about their biggest mistakes, he said that Brompton make loads of mistakes, but the key is to try to limit each risk to a size that won’t kill the company. That makes them more adventurous and able to make decisions more quickly. For Cobra Beer their speed of growth proved their undoing as they were too highly geared and suffered when the financial meltdown of 2008 happened. Fortunately they were rescued by Molson Coors and have continued to grow since then.

Neil  Infield on behalf of Business & IP Centre team.

15 May 2014

Book review - Cook Wrap Sell: A guide to starting and running a successful food business from your kitchen

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Gail Mitchell reviews Cook Wrap Sell: A guide to starting and running a successful food business from your kitchen By Bruce McMichael.

This book written in partnership with Country Living magazine aims to help you turn your love of food into a thriving small business, with the right idea and a watertight business plan.

It has chapters covering costs and funding, tax and insurance, branding and packaging and much more. As well as general business start up information it also contains information on food allergies and intolerance. It has a diary of events and festivals. Gives tips on blogging and lists food blogging groups. And how to get involved with food festivals and farmers markets as well as how to run a successful stall.

It also has case studies throughout the book and websites for further information within each chapter.

Hopefully a recipe for success!


Gail Mitchell on behalf of Business & IP Centre

13 May 2014

Act Local, Think Global

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Jules QuinnOur Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Going Global local Newcastle entrepreneur, Jules Quinn from The *Teashed shares some of her stories about cracking global markets.

You can hear more from Jules at the Newcastle screening of Going Global on 2 June. Find out more and book your Newcastle ticket.



With 7 out of 10 of us in the UK owning a smart phone, we all literally have the world at our finger tips. A quick jump onto Google search and we can land at the shop of a potential supplier in Asia, who within 24 hours has sent you quote and samples are in the post. Skype allows us free face in front of face conversations across the world, whilst simultaneously being able to refer to websites, email each other files or share via Dropbox. To have a chat with Tim in Timbuktu is just as easy as chatting to Sheila in Sheffield. Exception of course being time difference and language barriers.

But we are lucky, we have English as our mother tongue and it is common across the globe to find people, especially in business, who speak English. Having travelled extensively for business, I have not yet faced a language barrier that has meant we couldn't do business. And with time difference, well, if you are running your own business you will be up working all night anyway so it doesn’t matter!

I found all potential tea suppliers for The *TeaShed through Google and only two years later did I have the time and money to go and visit them. Language has not been a problem as our suppliers all speak English and time difference is only 5 hours. Global suppliers = simple.

Importing and exporting is also not as scary as you think. Yes, there are a lot of hoops to jump through, boxes to tick and fees to pay, but all in all it’s a pretty simple process and you normally will have agents who deal with it for you. I did once hear about a man who lost 1 million dollars worth of TVs out at sea and didn’t have any insurance though! Make sure you insure freight.

So once you have your international suppliers sorted and your logistics then you need to start attracting overseas customers. There are various ways through trade shows, agents, distributors but again the easiest is right in front of you now; the internet.

Search international competitors – into which stores in their country do they sell and then contact them directly. Search types of shops in particular areas. Perhaps the easiest place to start is British shops abroad. Often these shops will regularly import from the UK and so will have consolidation somewhere in the UK anyway.

Social media is an excellent way of creating international brand awareness. You may have to change platforms for some countries but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are all a great start.

The one thing to really do your research on, are the different laws for each country, for example in regards to packaging, IP, import/export and agents. UKTI can give a lot of advice on these topics and often have workshops you can attend. 

One area we looked closely at and indeed had guidance from Business & IP Centre Newcastle was to trademark or not to trademark. We went ahead and applied for a UK trademark straight away for The TeaShed and got advice on a community trademark (European).

They have a great deal of knowledge, which can be used to help protect yourself when selling abroad. IP will most probably be of huge importance to your company and therefore putting safety nets in place early on is recommended.

With research and precautions in place, the world is your oyster. The UK is undoubtedly a great market to target but it is also only a tiny part of the world. We have such fantastic infrastructure here, built upon hundreds of years of international trading, that you can import and export in a click of your button and wake up to an inbox bursting with orders.

Don’t just see what is in front of you. Look for what you can’t see.

Jules Quinn on behalf of Business & IP Centre

Our next Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Going Global will be held in London and screened live in Newcastle as well as live webcast. Tickets are going fast so book yours now!

21 August 2013

Trendspotting in a Nutshell for Innovators to Laggards

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A few weeks ago I attended a Business & IP Centre workshop by Cate Trotter of Insider Trends on ‘Spotting Trends and Opportunities’ during our ‘Cooking up Success’ series of events.

It was obvious from the beginning that the attendees were really on the cutting edge of the food business. During the icebreaker an attendee’s insight was that ‘food is trendy now and we want to be a slice of it!’

Cate helped us identify techniques for trendspotting as an essential strategic process that helps organisations and individuals anticipate change, plan more effectively, introduce more successful initiatives and spot niches in the market. Doing this means a business can focus on what to do next, make better decisions quickly which saves a lot of energy and money in the long run. 

Cate started by showing us a clip of a single person dancing at a festival but slowly…gradually…one by one… the dancer was joined by other people to form a mass gathering of something that they all enjoyed.  It was obvious from the clip that there may have been persons who didn’t want to participate or who may have needed that extra push or help to take part. 

Trend curve

Based on Rogers, E. (1962) Diffusion of innovations. Free Press, London, NY, USA. Source: Wikimedia

The moral of the story – trends takes a bit of passion from an innovator for it to move through the ‘Roger’s Innovation Curve’ from an innovator to laggards, gathering impetus to the mainstream where even the laggards eventually come on board. 

 For the food business we discussed innovators and early adopters who would go to the most obscure places to eat and sample new trends. Mostly, these persons are connectors and like to keep at the cutting edge of the industry and would attend foodie events from their social network or in their local area.  Cate reinforced that if you have your business cap on, you would use these experiences to gather information by observing, talking to people, brainstorming new initiatives and conduct informal market research for your next business idea or spotting the trend.  

Two practical exercises used were:

  •  The use of Google Trends to find out what people are taking about or what is ‘common knowledge’, for example cupcakes have far more hits than dosas
  • How to use trade and consumer magazines to find out what those ‘in the know’ are writing and talking about. Have a look at our popular Food Industry guide for resources available from us in the Centre.                    

Here are some tips for trends and opportunities spotting:

  • Know why you are spotting trends – the clearer you can be on what idea you’re looking for, the easier it will be to find it
  • Observe – trendspotting begins with an in-depth look at the various areas of influence such as new and old media, research, networking, scoping, everyday observations and problems highlighted
  • Connect the dots – after gathering the nuggets of information, make sense of it by connecting the dots with tags like Delicious, Freemind, Evernote or even Post-it-Notes on a wall or whiteboard.
  • Assess – investigate trends to assess the level of opportunity inherent in tools such as Google Trends & Keywords and Facebook Ads, which has how many people are interested.  Work out where they are in the Innovation Curve.
  • Ideate – Produce ideas that tap into the trend that you deem to have the most potential.  Identify and engage with the target group with the right balance of effort and reward that can help you have a more thorough understanding of the level of potential in each idea.
  • Test – Get feedback from the real world! Keep looking at your sales data, web analytics, press coverage for traction, monitor your social media or basically, speak to your customers.

In conclusion, we were reminded that trendspotting is something that should be continuous and you should formalise the process every 12 months or so to make sure that you are aware of all opportunities or risks ahead and the best position to take advantage or avoid them.

Find out when the next Insider Trends workshop takes place.

Seema Rampersad on behalf of Business & IP Centre

15 August 2013

China’s top 20 western brands

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Yum KFC China logoLast week the BBC published a fascinating report on the progress US companies have made in the rapidly growing Chinese market for consumer goods and services. Western brands 'more popular' in China.

The number one brand in China is fast food chicken restaurant chain KFC from Yum! Brands. The Chinese market contributes about half of Yum! Brands' overall profits. The company has about 4,400 KFC units in about 850 cities in China. It first entered the market in 1987. But in banking and telecoms Chinese companies still dominate.

The BBC asked global brand research company Millward Brown to find the 20 most powerful foreign brands in China, the ones that have gone in and succeeded where many others have failed.

A discussion on the Today Programme between presenter John Humpries and Peter Walshe Global Director of Brands at Millward Brown, produced a great definition of what makes a succesful brand:

Peter Walshe
Products that are delivering great quality in a meaningful way to consumers, are the ones that are bought again and again, by those very discerning consumers.

John Humphries - The assumption has been that in the West, you can sell anything to anybody if the advertising is good enough, and the marketing is good enough.

Peter - I certainly wouldn’t agree with that at all. You can announce something , and providing your advertising clearly annunciates what it is that is special, good and interesting about that product or brand, people will listen, and they may well try it. But when they try it and it doesn’t live up to that promise, you’re in big trouble.

One of the reasons Omo is doing so well is that it has listened and adapted to its consumers locally. The way that you wash clothes is quite different in China, compared to some other markets. They have very carefully listened to consumers and created products that are relevant.


Here are some success tips from some of the top brands via Millward Brown:

Get in early
All of the brands have been pioneers in China, entering before 2000.

Understand your market
The Chinese market is changing quickly and many of the companies are learning to keep up.

Be bold
Having got in early, many of the companies are building on that advantage. Some of the numbers are staggering.

City strategy
Many of the brands that spoke to us stressed the importance of looking beyond the coastal cities of Shanghai and Beijing to the staggering growth and new consumers in cities across the country.

Build your team
Running a business in China is difficult to do from outside the country, and many of these multinationals tell us that their success is built on finding the best Chinese talent and joint venture partners.

Neil Infield on behalf of the Business & IP Centre

Chloé Titcomb on behalf of the Business & IP Centre - See more at:
Chloé Titcomb on behalf of the Business & IP Centre - See more at:
Chloé Titcomb on behalf of the Business & IP Centre - See more at:
Chloé Titcomb on behalf of the Business & IP Centre - See more at:

03 July 2013

Starting a food business

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Although 'Cooking Up Success' has come to an end for 2013, we still have some great stories from food and drinks businesses who have a wealth of advice to offer.

Innovating for Growth business, Blueberry Hill, share their story of starting a growing a small business:

"Oh, where to start?!

Setting up Blueberry Hill has been one of the most rollercoaster rides I have ever experienced! 

Neither Ella or I came from a food background, so as we looked at setting up the business, we were starting totally from scratch.  Although this meant we definitely ended up going the long way round on occasions, we have learnt everything together and both have a deeper understanding of how all our business processes work.

Before launching into the partnership we decided to test our working relationship, as although we were friends from university, we knew this doesn't always mean you can work together!

While still working full time, we started slowly by selling some home-baked goods at local markets over weekends. Baking through the night on a Friday after a long week at work tested our stress levels but allowed us to see how we each dealt with customers and the finance side of things. 

After a few months of this, and some long nights writing a business plan we decided to take the plunge, and Blueberry Hill was born.

Photo 4
Blueberry Hill creations

Things change on a daily basis, the business plan gets amended and nothing ever goes quite to plan so it can sometimes feel like a bit of a whirlwind. We have learnt that you have to be flexible and open-minded, but also make sure you stick as much to your plans as possible or it is super easy to get distracted! 

We definitely fell into the trap of starting to work in the business too much and not on the business, and are only really now, one full-time year in, forcing ourselves to step back and look as objectively as possible at what we have achieved. 

Our crucial tips for going into a food business are;

  • Do all the H&S paper work from the start because as you grow it makes life a lot easier;
  • Don't be afraid to following your gut as this is usually right;
  • Make sure you remember to take some time to yourself!"

Rachel Reynolds, co-founder of Blueberry Hill on behalf of Business & IP Centre

Blueberry Hill have taken part in our Innovating for Growth programme which offers London-based small businesses the opportunity to get £10,000 worth of free bespoke advice and support.