After two and a half years of working remotely and ‘meeting’ clients on zoom, it was a complete joy to visit a real life, three dimensional trade show. As soon as we walked in the hall was alive with chatter and an energy that was tangible. A feast for the senses - and not just taste - pops of colour, sights and sounds, far removed from the flat screens we have become so accustomed to. Video calls have undoubtedly changed the working world for the better, but you cannot replace face to face contact - especially with clients.
Whilst we were all keen to talk, lots of brands had given extra thought on how to take engagement further. Slam dunks, hook a duck (or wonky fruit!), wheels of fortune and other conversation starters made it harder to snaffle a sample and sneak off. Creative ways to connect made for positive and authentic engagement and gave the show an extra dimension of fun. It certainly made the job harder for those who were simply asking “Have you tried our water?”…..visitors were already off to the next stand to see what it had to offer.
Lots of stands at Lunch! literally had their brand names up in lights. For good reason too - fantastic standout and brand recall. From yellow scripts to hot pink logos, multi coloured graphics and 70’s fonts, the stands that were switched-on had tapped right into this trend.
It's amazing to see innovative new products emerging: from cocoa dusted, extra crunchy cashews to turmeric shots, CBD drinks and brownie crisps (like the end bit of a brownie, super crunchy, thin and sprinkled with sea salt!), we even saw innovation in water, from the way it was branded (function over emotion) to the way it was sold (in reusable aluminium bottles).
This is BIG. Producers are bringing gut health to the masses, making it easily accessible and communicating the incredible link between the gut and brain. From ‘live’ shots to activated snacks, (shout out to Boundless!) kombucha drinks and kefir - even gut friendly chocolate.
Consumers have long since known about the detrimental effect of sugar on health, yet it seems to be taking forever for the biggest brands to do anything about it! All hail the challengers! At Lunch! we saw an abundance of sugar free / no added sugar / no artificial sweetener products. This is no longer niche or nice to have, it is a baseline and bare minimum. With greater flexibility to innovate, we saw lots of smaller to mid sized brands replacing sweetness with depth and layers of flavour - from bog standard fruits to more exotic, less-known botanicals and plants, particularly in drinks and snacks.
We had barely taken two steps into the show before bumping into former colleagues, clients, business connections and so on. Between three of us, we couldn’t clear an aisle without spotting a friendly face.
With The Seed Fund, set up by The Collaborators and supported by the Great Taste Awards, soon to be entering its 10th year, it struck us how many brands we have worked with over the years. Seeing how much they have grown - from small, tentative startups to powerful brands with conviction, confidence and presence - is something we are very proud of - with many of our tiny seedlings now on board as Seed Fund mentors!
Months of working with clients on strategy, planning, concept development, design finalisation and artwork means that products on shelf are just a small (but rewarding) part of what we do. To then see our vision brought even further to life in giant, oversized form is something that fills us with complete pride. We were absolutely thrilled to see the stands we had designed for Ombar and Love Struck come to fruition, and just how we had intended - not to mention bustling with activity! Huge thank you to N3 Display Graphics for all their help, expertise and meticulous attention to detail.