As we get excited for Christmas in the office, our Bloom & Wild mini-trees sparkling and the air scented by NEOM’s Christmas Wishes candle, we’re reflecting on another year of big changes in consumer behaviour, margin pressures, channel shifts, and marketing effectiveness. The commonality is our pride in the undiminished resilience of the 350 founders that we have met throughout the year.
We believe that in tougher times, strong brands that have created an emotionally-engaging relationship with their community and customers win out. When consumers pare back their spending, they will remain loyal to brands that reflect their personal values and that help drive positive changes in their lives.
We are confident that in 2024, founders will find evermore creative ways to drive these changes to live healthier and happier lives (also happens to be our purpose). Changing consumers’ behaviour can be slow and expensive. The role of great brands is to help speed it up by talking to them and educating them in an engaging way and creating a differentiated brand that they are proud to be associated with and tell others about, turning their community into advocates who drive the change for them. We are seeing this in each of the sectors that we invest in.
In health and wellness, through our partner brands Wild Nutrition and Ancient + Brave, we are seeing supplementation become an essential ritual for more people. Yet it’s a confusing space with too much choice and a big disparity in quality. Our prediction is that brands innovation will bring more scientific and nutritionist expertise into their new product development, focus more on specific customer groups (they can’t be all things to all people), as well as improve the taste and format to make supplementation as accessible as possible.
Supplementation is also making its way into beauty, from creams to powders. Yet, the big trend remains in brands driving innovation in natural and sustainable products. Our prediction is that brands will find ways of making natural and sustainable products also highly efficacious and better value for money to drive more mass adoption, while growing in both retail and D2C.
In food and drink, supplementation is also now the most prevalent trend. Innovation is coming through in functional food and drink that helps with everything from gut health to relaxation. Our prediction is that this will gather momentum, but with an increasing focus on things that are less processed and on the quality and quantity of the ingredients that are genuinely efficacious. Margin pressures will ease but it will remain challenging to build profitable brands with products that are good value for money.
Even in hospitality supplementation is a trend. We are seeing the popping up of matcha tea cafes and turmeric on coffee shop menus. However, the most prevalent trend is still in experiential and great value for money eating and drinking, as is the case with both of our partner brands Flat Iron and Turtle Bay. Our prediction is that this will continue but will also need to be married with a very strong business model.
Anything that happens with humans trickles through to pets very quickly. In fact, some things are going the other way, whether it be cold-pressed, raw, freeze dried, functional treats or insects. In an ever-competitive space that has seen lots of investment, our prediction is that brands that really understand what owners want as well their pets will win out. As we see with Omlet and Bruce’s, innovative pet products and services will grow in popularity while supplementation will continue to be infused into NPD.
In travel, brands that help people make the most of their lives and discover new places by themselves by walking, cycling and train travel or in small groups will continue to thrive, but with an increasing emphasis on great service and a deeper level of experience with local places, people and cultures. As we are seeing with our two partner brands The Thinking Traveller and Rabbie’s, British brands will also continue to make waves in the US.
In home and lifestyle accessories, our prediction is that brands that tap into wellness trends, from yoga to wild swimming, will continue to prosper. Just like our partner brands, Bloom & Wild, Monica Vinader, Mous and Neom, more brands will spread their wings internationally and specifically the US where the economy is better and spend is much higher.
We look forward to catching up with many of you in 2024, launching another season of our podcasts series (listen here), and running our quarterly Founders’ Collectives to help founders explore the latest ways to brand-build.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us all – picture above from our Christmas party making pasta at the wonderful Enrica Rocca Cooking School on Ladbroke Grove near us.