The New Year brought numerous reviews of the previous 12 months and whereas I’m a believer in looking forward, rather than back, it’s always very interesting to see what consumers bought over the year and potentially what drove them to make those buying choices. Mary Portas, self-proclaimed ‘Queen of Shops’ fronted Channel 4’s ‘What Britain bought in 2015’, which provided a snapshot of the big winners from retail throughout the year.
The programme depicted an overview of what was purchased throughout the year and more importantly the driving factors which influenced these decisions. Being able to pin-point why purchases are made and analysing these trends helps retail buyers and marketers to predict what may become popular in the coming year, helping to pre-empt buyer behaviour to maximise sales.
At the beginning of the programme Mary said, ‘I believe that the choices we made say more than we may realise about us and the year we have just had.’ and I’m inclined to agree. The items people buy, help to shape and ultimately define the society we currently live in.
So.. what did Britain buy?
An interesting run down of the highest selling products from last year was then described from January to December starting, of course, with the obligatory annual workout DVD. With the festivities over and the excuse of eating cheese and mince pies for breakfast ‘because it’s Christmas’ a distant memory, the January fitness and healthy lifestyle boom inevitably begins.
The rising prices of gym memberships plus the anxiety of potentially being ridiculed for getting your barbells mixed up with your dumbbells (barbells have fixable weights either side of a long bar to be easily gripped with both hands, dumbbells have weights either side of a much smaller bar for holding in each hand individually…but you knew that didn’t you) has seen the rise in home workout DVD’s. Couple that with a previously overweight, recognised (to a degree) celebrity and their social media accounts and you’ve got yourself a recipe for success.
This has been highlighted on numerous occasions with the likes of Davina McCall, Lorraine Kelly and the original instigator Jane Fonda, however the fitness DVD crown for 2015 fell triumphantly to Charlotte Crosby from Geordie Shore (why aye!)
Next up, to go with the ‘clean living’ trend, which has continued to grow as awareness of the dangers of obesity and diabetes are increasingly highlighted, is the Spiraliser. A what, I hear you ask? Well I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve jumped on this band wagon, I was given one for Christmas and have been spiralising everything I can get my hands on ever since! Essentially, it turns your vegetables, mainly courgettes, into string-like spaghetti or ‘courgetti’ (yep, genius) so you can use it as an alternative to pasta, if wanting to cut down on your carbohydrate or wheat intake. Plus it makes your dinner look much jazzier!
Sales of courgettes up 20%
When items like these are introduced to the market place and have such a successful uptake, they also have an effect on already well established products in the marketplace, in this case vegetables. It’s been reported that sales of courgettes at Marks and Spencer were up by 20% from April 2014 to April 2015 and Sainsbury’s recorded in April 2014 that volumes of courgettes were up by nearly a third year-on-year. The simple courgette has turned into a ‘hero vegetable’, all because of its spiralising qualities, who knew?!
It seems we don’t take enough time-out, in this 24-hour digital world we’ve created, the answer? Adult colouring books. This trend emerged as the shift towards ‘mindfulness’ behaviour became popular, these intricately designed books, some created specifically to help you de-stress and focus the mind, are flying off the shelves and are currently saturating the best seller list on Amazon.
Other purchases making the top spots were Christmas jumpers, worn proudly from October to December, not just on Christmas day, the now infamous suede skirt from Marks and Spencer, beard oil, to assist the latest male accessory of facial hair and particular items to spice up your love life, thanks to the highly anticipated (by some) book turned film, 50 Shades of Grey, I’ll say no more.
There are several factors which research has shown influence consumer buying behaviour, theconsumerfactor.com outlines these as cultural, social, personal and psychological factors. We’re influenced by family, friends, our cultural environment or society, which in turn plays a role in the perception, habits, behaviour or expectations of us as consumers. Often, the driver in consumer buying behaviour is a straightforward ‘want’ for that product, to follow the trend or because your friend has got one, incidentally, you’ll be pleased to hear I’ve started a spiraliser movement within the office. The secondary purchasing catalyst is a ‘need’ for that product, when your toothpaste is empty, or your washing machine decides to leak with no hope of fixing it. Analox products cover both, with a regulatory or legal ‘has to’ thrown in for good measure, depending on which country our monitors are being used in.
I don’t suppose gas monitoring will never be on trend, or even one of the bestselling products however, it is becoming more and more talked about from a safety point of view, as the dangers of gas leaks or depletion not only affects a business’s profits, in the case of West Yorkshire Fire Station where an entire training day and costs were lost due to contaminants infiltrating their compressor, it can also be detrimental to the lives of employees and customers. A member of the public in a McDonalds restaurant in Georgia, USA, collapsed and died after being overcome by CO2, which was leaking from a crack in the system used for piping the gas to carbonate the restaurant’s drinks.
With such serious consequences we still find it amazing that gas detection is not more intensely regulated across the UK and the rest of the world.
Some of our products have even been specifically researched, designed and manufactured as a reaction from incidents that have occurred, in order to help stop it ever happening again. Analox’s Hypergas was introduced after an incident involving a diving bell, contaminated with hydrocarbons, was brought into the bell from the seabed by a diver. Hydrocarbons can set off gas in the bell atmosphere and act as an anaesthetic which could prove potentially fatal for divers if they are not made aware so that they can take evasive action.
What will Britain buy in 2016?
Mary Portas finished ‘What Britain bought in 2015’ with her predictions of which items will be the best sellers for this year. As gas detection experts, we would hope to see a rise in awareness of the importance of gas detection and an increased purchase of monitor’s in-line with recently emerged regulations IGEM/UP/19 and BS 6173 which state that the level of CO2 in a commercial kitchen is a reliable measure of the ventilation system’s effectiveness.
However, the retail world will be going mad for sugar-free food, natural tanning products, outerwear (apparently ‘clothing’ is too generic these days!) and my personal favourite, the Brussels sprout, because remember, a sprout’s not just for Christmas, it’s for life.
See ‘What Britain bought in 2015’ on Channel 4 until the end of January: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/what-britain-bought-in-2015
Author: Melanie Smith, Marketing Executive
Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.