Ireland’s food, drink and horticulture industry will for the first time enjoy unrestricted access to the latest global trends, research, consumer insights and industry innovations thanks to a new integrated, state-of-the-art consumer research and market insight centre launched by Bord Bia at its headquarters in Dublin today.
As the industry prepares to virtually double its exports, to reach the target of €19 billion set by FoodWise2025, The Thinking House will play a potentially transformative role in helping it to develop and differentiate its offerings in the global marketplace, according to Bord Bia Chief Executive, Aidan Cotter.
In addition to meeting the challenge presented by Brexit, achievement of the industry’s ten year target is expected to require a step change in export growth to Europe and a trebling in its exports to international markets, including a quadrupling of its presence in Asia’s growth markets, according to Bord Bia, which opened its thirteenth international office in Singapore earlier this month.
The Thinking House, the logical progression for Bord Bia’s growing investment in market and consumer research, will be managed by Helen King, Director of Consumer Insight and a team of 11 professionals, with backgrounds ranging from psychology to librarianship.
The creative space includes a Trends Zone to highlight the latest food and drink innovations from around the world and a Packaging and Branding gallery to promote best in class design and to showcase Bord Bia’s recent work with Irish food and drink brands.
The ‘Living Room’ and its adjacent viewing room, will allow Bord Bia, and the industry, to conduct qualitative focus and discussion groups, equipped with audio, video recording and live streaming capacity, while the Library presents invaluable access to a wide range of databases and reports that would heretofore have been financially prohibitive to source for many small to medium-sized companies working in the industry.
Finally, an innovative working space, with room for up to 70 people, will be available for the industry to use for workshops, meetings and presentations.
Although Bord Bia’s award winning* research and insight work is now well established having initially focused on global food trends, the Consumer Insight team currently work with over 100 Irish brands per year across all sectors, ranging from small start-ups to large multinationals. Recent research work has extended into the far reaches of China, South East Asia and Africa where Bord Bia staff, using cultural ethnography, have visited and stayed with people in their homes, shopped with them, eaten with them and even looked in their fridges, to better understand food habits in very different cultural environments.
Meanwhile Bord Bia’s Consumer Lifestyle Trends programme, which identifies and tracks the biggest trends shaping people’s lives over the next 3 - 5 years, is based on global quantitative and qualitative research in 21 countries across four continents. As part of this programme, Bord Bia works with a team of ‘Streetscapers’ based in 60 cities all over the world from Mumbai and Mexico to Tokyo and Toronto to help the industry monitor the latest food and drink trends and innovations.
Speaking at the launch this morning, Aidan Cotter, Chief Executive, Bord Bia commented “The recent performance of our food and drink exports, growing by more than 50% over the past six years, and now at just short of €11 billion, has been exceptional in the context of its time, positioning the industry at the heart of our economic recovery. As the industry strives to reach the ambitious export target of €19 billion, the goal set by FoodWise2025, it now requires transformational initiatives to support another step change in export growth. I believe the establishment of The Thinking House sends a signal of how our industry will seek to compete and will, over time, prove transformational.”
“Success in a highly competitive, global marketplace, where we seek to compete not on price, but through value, can only come from having a deep understanding of the needs of consumers and the insights that will enable us to create, demonstrate, and effectively communicate relevant points of difference” he added.
Meanwhile Helen King believes The Thinking House will help “elevate Ireland as a 21st century contemporary food-producing nation that commercializes sustainable and scalable food production in line with genuine consumer needs. Insight gives us a deep understanding of our markets and end users, so that our industry can make better informed decisions based on what consumers and customers want and need. Ultimately this leads to more commercial success” she added.
Bord Bia’s upcoming market research work includes a focus on health and wellness through The Psychology of Sugar study, understanding the story of sugar today and how consumers and shoppers navigate product choice; Ageing Well, a semiotic and qualitative look at how older people engage with products while trying to lead a healthy, long life, and ethnographic work in China to research opportunities for Irish beef and pork.
*Bord Bia has been awarded a total of nine Marketing Society of Ireland Research Excellence Awards, five for its international work and four additional awards for other projects.