Is mainstream a ‘dead end road’? 3 examples

Shifting away from mainstream, consumers nowadays are polarized: discover how and why consumers are looking for good value for money, while also hunting for high-end products to lift the ordinary.







From the rise of €10 chocolate tablets to the huge success of discounters’ in-store bakeries, it seems that mainstream brands and retailers are faced with a tough choice when it comes to sweet goods: trade up or trade down. Consumers struggle to see the added value of a mainstream A-brand product, when they can get the exact same taste experience with a private label. Similarly, they are also much more keen on spending extra for a product that delivers an extraordinary experience and/or has a believable story to tell.

Affordable luxury

A striking example is the UK retail environment. The last 5 years saw the rise in market shares of both discounters and high-end retailers to the expense of the mainstream “Big 4”. Waitrose and M&S focused on high-quality products while Lidl and Aldi offered great value for money, leaving consumers confused as to why they should keep on shopping at mainstream supermarkets.

This is true for the travel and hospitality industry. As shown in Stylus report “The future guest - New luxury travel”, a trend towards “lean luxury” is now rising as budget accommodation experiences an upscale makeover.

“Lean luxury for us means authenticity, style and service – but without the super-high price tag,”

explained Roxane Gergaud, co-founder of UK-based online budget boutique hotel finder Doris & Dicky.

Travellers’ profiles are changing: single female travellers, empty nesters, fragmented Millennial population… and previously untapped small but profitable niches appear.

True premium

Speaking of extra-ordinary experiences, Rolex is the perfect example of the adequation between product experience, brand values and emotional benefit.
Rolex designs watches that can resist 3900m below sea level, using only the best materials, assembled by the best watchmakers in the world.

Rolex Oyster watch. Source:

Through authenticity, craftsmanship and great storytelling, Rolex is not only a luxury brand for the richest 1% in the world, but it’s also aspirational, hence widening its customer base without losing prestige.

Keep up the innovation pace

Finally, make sure you keep up with the innovation pace. Consumers are faced with a plethora of choices and are much quicker than ever before at switching brands if they are not delivering according to their expectations.

Blackberry, once considered a premium brand, realized the company was lagging behind quicker and more innovative competitors. They went mass-market with mainstream products, lost their brand premium and eventually almost disappeared from the cellphone market.

So, what should you do to keep up with ever-evolving consumer needs?

Discover which strategies and ingredients to use in Bakery/Pastry, Confectionery and Ice Cream so your products stand out from the crowd.

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