Blog: Olly WehringDrinktec - hedonism everywhere

Olly Wehring | 16 September 2009

Today (16 September) marks the changing of the guard at the Drinktec show in Munich, as one team of just-drinks' personnel is swapped for another for the second half of the week. So, if you are at the venue and want to catch up with editor Olly Wehring between now and Friday, drop us a line and we will arrange a time to meet.

In the meantime, I am bidding farewell to Drinktec until 2013 – I am not taking a prolonged sabbatical, the show is only held every four years. It's been a fascinating few days. We have developed a string of new contacts within areas of the drinks industry I have not been heavily involved in before, from ingredients to technology, and it would be remiss of me not to thank everyone we visited for the warm welcome we received on each stand.

The sheer size of the show and some of the stands – Krones, Cargill and KHS's efforts practically filled whole exhibition halls on their own – are the most obvious memories I'll take away. But, even more encouraging was the positive atmosphere that pervaded the exhibition halls. It's at this level, amongst the engineers, food ingredient scientists and developers, that you see innovation in the drinks industry at its rawest, and there was a clear sense that this agenda was alive and well despite the global economy.

As well as stand-hopping, we managed to cram in a few of the seminars over the last couple of days, including Coke's aims to produce a viable 'water footprint' for its business. It's a project with a number of issues still to iron out and it will take time before it has the kind of traction with consumers that the carbon footprint principle does. But, given Coke's recent run-ins over various environmental issues – particularly some of the protests it has seen in India – this has the feel of a significant move by the drinks giant and one with implications for the whole industry.

Finally, it's also worth mentioning a seminar I attended hosted by research company AC Nielsen, because the findings of a study by the group demonstrated why the ingredients and technology companies – those in the health and wellness sectors especially - will be so key in driving growth in the drinks industry over coming years.

The study was on a newly-identified group of consumers known as LOHAS – which stands for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability. Like many other marketing exercises, this was a term originally coined in the US. However, our host at AC Nielsen , Harald Eirund, argued that this was not another esoteric new group but a hugely important band of consumers who already account for 30% of all German consumers and 20% of all those buying FMCG products in the US.

Furthermore, they have already affected the strategies of retailers from the supermarkets to the discounters and from producers in chocolate to beer.

AC Nielsen started to track these consumers two years ago and has subsequently split LOHAS into seven subsets: mature, community, ideologists, frugal preservers, trendy hedonists, body conscious and bargain hunters.

Eirund's main point was that LOHAS was not only a real and important group of consumers but also far from a fad. “We are not talking about about young, hip households, but older people too: people who love to spend money and love to live.”

They are growing too on the back of rising levels of environmental discussion and climate issues.

As I bid farewell to Munich then, I'll leave you with this thought from Eirund's presentation on LOHAS - which proved to be the quote of the week so far - when trying to describe the LOHAS subset 'Trendy Hedonists'.

“They have a lot in common with the rest of LOHAS,” he said, “as there is hedonism everywhere.”

Hear, hear.



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