Nikki Austen, our London based Director of Insight & Strategy, took to the stage at the NPD Food & Drink Innovation conference to share the trends and insights we uncovered to inform our strategy in repositioning Ryvita as a versatile snack for today’s health conscious consumer.

From the behaviours we observed while conducting ethnographic studies, future food trends and semiotic analysis of the category; Nikki distilled our observations into a thought provoking presentation on “The Death of the Diet” and the ever increasing negative associations of the term.


Introducing the audience to her point of view on Millennial foodies, Hybrid hobbies (such as Yoga brunches & Edible cinema) and the rise of Flexitarianism (it’s a thing. Google it!), Nikki covered many of the salient points at the top of the day’s agenda.

Nikki, as always, took the opportunity to learn as well as inspire and returned to our Waterloo HQ with some great observations.

“I’d like to summarise with these choice morsels;

The recipe to success – We have finally turned a corner with adopting and valuing genuinely consumer-centric innovation approaches. Integrating consumers into the learning plan was shared throughout the day as being absolutely critical to the process.

Less is more – At the top of the list of priorities are the great sugar debate, the sustainability agenda and the paralysis of consumers faced with too much choice. Nestlé, Kerry Foods, Quorn, Innocent & Ella’s Kitchen shared common obstacles, challenges and innovation goals in these areas.

Keep it fresh – It is critical that in agency/client partnerships we learn to make bigger differences more efficiently, with less risk, shorter timescales and with smarter investment. Spend the time, effort and resource in the right places and make things happen fast. A process is critical but don’t let it get in the way. That’s when things go stale.

Serve it up – Brand Activation is considered far too late in the process, very often an after-thought. There is a 2-3 second window of opportunity to engage shoppers at shelf and disrupt autopilot thinking. It is vital, especially when dishing up something new, that we learn to use design to influence changes in shopper behaviour and impact their decision making process. Mathew Critchley of Premier Foods offered the same advice to all of the Innovation leaders in the room and phrased it beautifully, “Don’t spill the milk in the last 10 yards”.

Hungry people – It was incredibly encouraging to hear throughout the day, as speaker after speaker revealed the secret ingredient in achieving their success is their people. Great teams of experts with great minds and a great appetite for success.

All very inspiring food for thought.”

If you’d like to hear more from Nikki about any of the topics mentioned here please get in touch.


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