NEWS19 March 2014

From the death of risk to rogue food: turning trends to traction


A series of case studies presented at the MRS Conference described ways of responding to consumer change.

Death of risk

“Picture a family car travelling along the motorway. The father isn’t wearing his seatbelt – he doesn’t like to – and he’s chain-smoking with the windows closed. A three year-old child is roaming around in the backseat, enjoying the ride. I bet you’re thinking: ‘what a crazy family’. But that three year-old was me.”

Christophe Jouan of Future Foundation used this example from his childhood to illustrate how times have changed with regard to how society views risk. Alongside Jessica Salmon of O2 Telefonica, he described how ‘risk’ is now defined by financial success and career rather than adventure, and that while people glamourise risk-taking behaviour, very little actually takes place.

Salmon described how O2 used this insight to develop its ‘Be more dog’ campaign, which encourages adventurous behaviour while creating a safe space in which to do so.

Team Me

A case study from McDonalds, presented by Viki Cooke of Britain Thinks and Julian Watson of McDonalds, explored how the combination of a perceived trust deficit, ‘squeezed’ Britain and ‘networked’ Britain has led to consumers seeking experiences where brands put them at the centre of its thinking.

McDonalds used this insight to design a more family-orientated restaurant intended to give customers a more rounded experience: a space for families to spend time together without alienating non-family customers. This included improved seating, play areas and iPads installed in restaurants.

Rogue food

Flamingo and Weight Watchers presented a case study where insights around the cultural shifts that lead to us eating more had been used to drive Weight Watchers’ PR coverage. “Rogue food is invading our spaces: it has stealth occupation of all spaces,” said Kirsty Fuller of Flamingo, describing how our kitchens are slowly invading our homes, our offices and our social lives, leading to us eating more often. Fuller also talked about how “hyperactive culture” and the “informalisation of culture” has led to the same result.

Angharad Massie of Weight Watchers then outlined how this insight fed into Weight Watchers’ most successful PR coverage to date.