Prominent representatives of different companies in the food sector participated in the webinar entitled “X-ray of the new ‘gastroconsumer'”, organized by MARCO, a renowned agency specializing in brand building and reputation management. This event is part of a series of industry webinars that the consultancy has started and focused on new trends in the food and beverage sector, analyzing the new consumer, the crucial role of sustainability, as well as the importance of communication and marketing in this industry.
The meeting was attended by Miguel Sanz, Director General of the DO Ribera del Duero Regulatory Council; Alejandro Calvo, co-founder and owner of Cuac EVOO; Sofía García, Marketing Director of Healthy Poke; Paco Hevia, Corporate Director of Galletas Gullón, and Jorge Alonso, Marketing Director of Grupo Calvo. Throughout the webinar, topics of great relevance for the food and beverage sector were discussed, such as the evolution of the industry in 2023, the habits of the new consumer in the current macroeconomic context, the fundamental role of sustainability, as well as the communication and marketing strategies necessary in a highly competitive environment.
Keys to reach the new ‘gastroconsumer’
The food sector currently represents 2.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Spain. Despite the current circumstances, this sector continues to be the most robust in the country, according to the most recent reports from the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB). In this context, Jorge Alonso, Marketing Director of Grupo Calvo, highlights the four main keys to reach the new consumer. “We are facing a more rational consumer, who is looking for practicality. Another important key is health, which must be combined with pleasure and convenience if we want to continue growing. The third key is to bet on food quality, especially in proteins , both plant and animal, which account for a large part of consumption. Finally, innovation, where we emphasize social, economic and environmental aspects to promote growth”. In addition, Alonso adds that “the user experience is increasingly relevant, since more than buying brands, we look for experiences. We must put the consumer at the center and offer them the best possible experience in this complex period marked by inflation” .
Miguel Sanz, General Director of the DO Ribera del Duero, highlighted “the importance of niches and authenticity, which are more fundamental than ever in a sector in which globalization has given rise to the creation of large groups”. This opinion is shared by Alejandro Calvo, co-founder and owner of Cuac AOVE, who affirms that “with specialization and a differentiated product we fight to make our way in a market as competitive as that of oil. That is our key, to find our niche of market”. Paco Hevia, Corporate Director of Galletas Gullón, adds to this reflection, who highlights the change in dynamics since the pandemic and the commitment to “a local product and consolidated brands, in which the value chain of food companies has been strengthened that operate in Spain”. This fact reinforces one of the main conclusions of the PwC study, ‘Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey 2023’, which reveals that more than 70% of consumers say they are willing to pay more for locally produced food and products manufactured by companies recognized by his ethics.
In addition, in this analysis of the sector and of the new food and beverage consumer, a growing concern for the food we consume prevails. Sofía García, Marketing Director of Healthy Poke, explains that “the healthy food market is the one that has grown the most after Covid-19, with the appearance of new categories, such as ‘poke’ dishes. Indulgence is not lose, but we must adapt to the new habits of a consumer who is more aware of their diet”.
Sustainability and co-responsibility between brands and consumers
According to the study ‘The Changing Climate of Sustainability’ carried out by NielsenIQ, 73% of Spaniards consider that sustainability is now more important than two years ago, which highlights the need to position sustainability as a fundamental pillar in the strategy of the brands. Paco Hevia highlights the co-responsibility between companies and consumers in terms of sustainability. “Companies can make as much effort in ecodesign as they want. However, if the packaging is not deposited in the appropriate containers, that effort is lost. There is a co-responsibility between producers and consumers that affects food waste, the circular economy , decarbonization and multiple aspects. To achieve a global impact in terms of sustainability, all actors must act together.”
For his part, Miguel Sanz points out that winegrowers and winemakers are “the first to want to take care of our environment and our vineyards. Currently, environmental sustainability is valued, but consumers could forget other levers of sustainability as important as social and The viticulturists respect the vineyards and the land because they depend on them to live and also to ensure the livelihood of future generations”. Along the same lines, Alejandro Calvo, in addition to emphasizing the importance of caring for the environment and the olive groves, highlights the need to guarantee that “when implementing our production processes, sustainability is not excessively burdened on the client, since they still is associated with increased costs. Sofía García underlines the relationship between sustainability and health in the broadest sense. “We link sustainability with health in general, caring for the environment and ourselves. In addition, for us it is essential to carefully select our food suppliers, who are local, and also create a business model that seeks to eliminate the food waste. For his part, Jorge Alonso explains how Grupo Calvo addresses sustainability with a triple commitment, focusing on the oceans, the environment and people. Among the main achievements, he highlights that “in the field of oceans, we work in sustainability from the raw material and responsible fishing. This year we achieved that 100% of our tuna boats are certified as responsible fishing. In addition, 91% of the electricity we consume in our factories comes from renewable sources, and 98% of the materials we use are recyclable.”
Innovation and differentiation, pillars in the new communication and marketing strategies
Paco Hevia highlights the strategy of Galletas Gullón in the points of sale, prioritizing this channel even over advertising investment. “For many years we gave up advertising and mass communication and focused on the point of sale, communicating when the consumer was already looking for that ‘diet’ section. It was at that moment that we achieved visibility and we had the advantage of being, for a long time, time, the only product in its category. Alejandro Calvo highlights innovation as part of his marketing strategy. “We wanted that when people see our bottle, they would remember their childhood, thanks to the drawing of the yellow duckling, and at the same time obtain a high-quality product. In this way, consumers know that Cuac EVOO is a differentiated product thanks to its image “. Jorge Alonso explains that “the construction of the Calvo brand, based on quality, authenticity and innovation, has been possible thanks to a high-quality product and very effective communication. What has always set us apart is our differential, courageous and disruptive creativity “. In this line of betting on creative approaches, Miguel Sanz highlights the permanent campaign of #EspírituRibera. “With this campaign we have reached places where the presence of wine was not expected and where its presence did not bother the consumer. Thus we have begun to be present at film festivals such as SEMINCI, Sitges or the Feroz Awards, as well as at the festival of Sonorama music in Aranda de Duero. Thanks to these actions, other cultural projects seek us out by observing the value we provide.” Sofía García, from Healthy Poke, points out that “in the ‘poke’ sector there is some infidelity. Until now we have focused on strategic alliances with key home delivery companies, but now is the time to establish our position as leaders and highlight those attributes that make us unique and special”.
The transition from the ‘traditional consumer’ to the new ‘gastro consumer’
From MARCO, the figure of the ‘gastroconsumer’ is considered as an evolution of the traditional consumer. This is a new type of consumer who is much more aware of the different events that mark current affairs, more willing to discover new experiences from brands, without sacrificing quality, considering price and demanding a responsible and sustainable attitude on the part of of these brands. According to Juanma Dortez, Director of the Food & Beverage area at MARCO, “in addition, this is an increasingly informed consumer, immersed in the world of networks and social media, more digitally sociable and a consumer of brief, direct audiovisual content , simple and attractive”.