Thursday, 11 September 2014

Food marketing: Three ways to make your products stand out

Even if you have created a truly sensational food product, you may never reap the financial rewards if you fail to attract enough interest among consumers. The fact is, it doesn’t matter how delicious or nutritious your food is if you can’t get anyone to give it a go. Here are three top tips to help ensure your company’s tasty treats really stand out.

Creating a stir

Always bear in mind that a little savvy marketing can go a long way when you are launching new products. Whether shopping online, in supermarkets or at artisan markets, when it comes to food, people are usually confronted with row after row of products all vying for their attention, not to mention their money. Often, they will stick to brands they know, not paying much attention to new items that appear on the shelves. This means you’ll have to do something a little different if you want your product to end up in consumers’ shopping baskets.

One way to get noticed is to launch your product with introductory or online special offers. Everyone loves a bargain, especially now when many household budgets are squeezed.
If you are selling your products in shops, you may also want to ensure that they feature on special promotional stands so that consumers can’t miss them. This may require a little effort and expenditure, but it should help to put your brand on people’s radars.

Effective packaging

Your items must look the part too. If your packaging isn’t up-to-scratch, shoppers will doubt the quality of its contents. As well as looking professional, packaging should be visually appealing. Highlighting the importance of this issue, research conducted earlier this year by the MeadWestvaco Corporation revealed that, among the people it polled, 64 per cent had tried new products because the packaging caught their eye. Meanwhile, 41 per cent noted that they had purchased a product again because of the packaging.

As well as being functional, your packaging must appeal to consumers’ imaginations. Bold colours and unusual shapes can help your food items to stand out. Using atypical designs in this way may raise the cost of packaging, but it will also increase the impact your goods make.

A standout label

A crucial part of your packaging will be your labels. Indeed, an effective label can be one of the most important assets that a food brand has. This item should contain all the relevant information and it must grab consumers’ attention. When you’re designing your label, think about your target audience. Decide exactly who are you trying to appeal to and make sure that the language, colours, images and general look of your labels reflects this.

These items should have a distinctive appearance and this is especially important if you plan to release different product lines. From a marketing perspective, it is vital that all of your goods are instantly recognisable. Your labels should also give people a clear idea of what is inside the packaging. Shoppers are often strapped for time, so you don’t want to leave them guessing as to what your products are.

Firms such as Labels Plus offer a host of different labels and should have the perfect solutions for you. The best thing is, despite the importance of labels in terms of branding, these items are inexpensive.

Meanwhile, if packaging and label design are distinctly out of your comfort zone, there’s no need to panic. You can always turn to the experts for help. Paying a little extra to benefit from professional design services can prove to be a savvy long-term investment and it may help ensure that when your products hit the shelves, people really sit up and take notice.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Apple Crumble

With the cold evenings beginning to creep in we start moving from summer desserts to warm comforting desserts like this recipe for apple crumble. My most fond memory of apple crumble is from my grandmothers house where it was always served warm with custard, straight from the oven. On special occasions served with ice cream. This recipe is simple to follow and always produces impressive crowd pleasing results.

The Ingredients:
380g Granny Smith Apples (This can be tinned if apples if you dont have fresh)
210g Silver Spoon® Caster Sugar
30g Neills® Plain Flour
210g Light Brown Sugar
150g Butter
220g Neills® Plain Flour
80g Rolled Oats
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
1tsp Ground Vanilla Pods (Optional)

Recommended Equipment:
Pyrex Mixing Bowls
Pyrex Cake Dish with Handles
Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Scale

The How-To:
Preheat oven to 190c.
Mix together the apple pieces, 210g caster sugar, ground cinnamon and 30g plain flour until just combined. If you are using tinned apples mix very gently so you do not break up the apple too much. Tinned apples are completely fine to use and is very flavourful if you do not have access to fresh. Set this mixture aside.

In a separate large bowl mix together the butter, oats, 210g light brown sugar some ground vanilla pods if you have any (Dr Oetker do a great vanilla grinder so keep an eye out for this!) and 220g plain flour.
Rub this mixture together until a chunky breadcrumb consistency is achieved.

If the crumble mixture is too wet (this can happen if the kitchen is very warm when the butter and sugar are softer than normal) add 1tbsp of flour at a time until the mixture crumbles into chunky breadcrumb consistency.
Evenly spread the apple mixture into a shallow baking dish, we use the Pyrex cake dish with handles as its absolutely perfect for crumbles.
Top the apple with the crumble mixture and spread out evenly, being careful not to upset the rhubarb mixture below too much.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins until the crumble is nice and golden.

Allow to cool for 5-10 mins before serving.
Our recommended serving method is with warm custard.


Recipe Notebooks of the Future

If you're like us you will always have scrap pieces of paper containing recipe notes in bags, wallets, recipe books, pockets and just about everywhere else you can imagine. It’s amazing how many things you jot down to remember 'later' not realising that later often means weeks or months down the line and that is if the note doesn't get lost along the way!

Over the past few months we have been testing numerous iPad apps to keep a digital archive of our recipe notes as well as numerous stylus for the iPad to make the note taking task less of a task and more of a pleasure.

We have always had the habit of handwriting all our recipes and articles, (even this one you're reading now!), before publishing them here and throwing away the notes. We write our articles and recipes all over the world, wherever and whenever the inspiration comes to us. We decided action had to be taken! We're very keen writers and believe strongly in keeping the art of handwriting alive, especially in this digital day and age. 

We soon discovered that the note taking process on the iPad doesn’t always need to be for ‘new’ recipe notes but could be used to preserve ‘Granny’s Old Cookery Notebook’.  Why not transcribe an old, tattered, falling apart family recipe notebook into digital form in your very own handwriting. To be shared with family members for years to come by email and other digital methods while the original book can remain safe from further damage. By transcribing the notebook it still retains the personality and style of the family and creates a wonderful legacy to pass down future generations.

The one compromise we never make with keeping our paper journals is the pen we use. You enjoy writing so much more with a pen you are comfortable writing with, it’s a very good investment to encourage your writing. We’re not 100% digital yet and when hand writing we prefer the fountain pen as it has elegance and class as well as a quality of writing that a ballpoint pen simply cannot replicate. Are we pen snobs? We don't really care, it's whatever you feel most comfortable writing with. We found the exact same problem with choosing a stylus. So many are cumbersome, awkward to hold and do a downright shabby job. We tested numerous stylus and the ones which came out top were the Adonit Jot Script (for iPad 4th Gen and above) and the Adonit Jot Pro (for all iPads).

The Adonit Jot Script with PixelPoint Technology ($74.99) has amazing Bluetooth technology which means a seamless connectivity between your stylus and the iPad making the stylus truly feel like a pen. This also incorporates palm rejection technology into the writing experience meaning whatever way you hold your pen, if your wrist accidentally touches the iPad screen the iPad knows and doesn’t record those touches. With a 1.9mm tip say goodbye to the thick awkward stylus which make you feel like you’re writing with a crayon. The tip and design of this stylus has been designed especially to make it feel like a pen. The tip itself looks quite like the tip of a ballpoint pen and feels like it too when writing.

If you have an older model of an iPad which we do and sometimes use when travelling you need not feel left out. We found a stylus also by Adonit which is just as comfortable to use, the Adonit Jot Pro ($29.99). This uses less digital technology and more precise tip technology to ensure an accurate handwriting experience. Moving from using a fountain pen to a stylus we found this the smoothest transition. We also found it quieter to use as the rubber tip didn’t use the tap tap tap sound that the Jot Script did with its hard tip. The tip incorporates a small pad of rubber on top of a fine tip. This might look strange but it ensures smooth and seamless contact with the iPad screen. The stylus only produces strokes the thickness of the fine tip and not the complete pad. This is our favourite stylus that we have found so far as; to us it is the closest to a fountain pen which we are familiar with using. Its glides effortlessly over the ipad screen whether you are writing,drawing or signing a document your handwriting always comes across as it would on paper.

Our app of choice on the iPad is NoteShelf, it is currently £3.99 but we find it is completely worth it. There are of course hundreds of free note taking apps and they all work fine but if you intend to keep a lot of notes and want to keep them organised into books and even shelves we think that NoteShelf does all these things perfectly. This app allows you to easily write, sketch, highlight and just about anything else you can do with a pen and a piece of paper. Just what we were looking for! Each of your notebooks is beautifully displayed on a wooden shelf layout. You can choose the cover and page style of each of your books and name them appropriately. Even pile similar books on top of each other to stay even more organised.

So far our digital notetaking has been a relatively smooth transition and we have almost completely eliminated those stray pieces of paper we all find in the bottom of our bags. So far we have transcribed two very battered and well used family recipe notebooks so they will now survive several more generations than they would have originally.

Our research into the perfect methods to record our notes digitally is constantly evolving as the technology does too so we will update this article with any new findings as we come across them.