Princes embraces rapidly emerging trends with unique retailer ‘Co-Labs’ innovation platform


International food and drink group Princes is expanding its market-leading innovation strategy with a new co-creation initiative for retailers.

Co-Labs will help retailers embrace emergent trends, utilise cutting edge technology

and leverage insight to identify products that will prove commercially successful.

Alan Eriksen, marketing director at Princes Group, said: “The last 18 months has seen the biggest shift in global, social and consumer trends in decades. And it doesn’t stop changing. We have absolute belief that our now 3,000-strong consumer community and our truly unique take on food and drink innovation is the blueprint for how retailers can keep pace.

“Co-Labs will see us partner with retailers to leverage our unique community to provide real-time insights into the categories that matter to them most, helping to create and refine future-fit innovation that meets their changing consumer needs head-on. Our Trend Book identifies what each trend means for innovation and the benefits to the consumer. It’s a powerful combination of market knowledge and consumer insight retailers will find invaluable.”

Princes’ innovation arm, Innov8, was set up by the Liverpool-based company in 2019, creating a dedicated team that focuses on developing industry-leading products and overcoming some of the biggest sector-wide issues.

The innovation team has launched a number of ground-breaking products since its inception, including U:ME Spice Shots, Princes Fruit Pots, Princes Plant-Based Ready Meals and the Plot 9 Plant-Based Range – all made it to the final of The Grocer New Product Awards.

Innov8 is a unique partnership between Princes Group and KICR – a young innovation consultancy formed in 2018 to address the two key challenges that many food and drink operations face – innovation agility and embedding the consumer viewpoint as part of the innovation process. This has, Princes says, been the foundation of its recent successes. The Innov8 team spans packaging, brand, category, culinary and product innovation for brands and customer own label products.

The 3,000-strong consumer community, which has grown from a panel of 800 in 2019, will be used as part of the Co-Labs platform to provide product feedback, co-create concepts, deliver essential category understanding and trial products. These insights can be drilled down to views on specific retailers and branded and own label ranges, fuelling ground-breaking co-creation projects.

Princes’ Innovation Kitchen at its Royal Liver Building headquarters, part of the initial £5m investment made by the Group in innovation in 2019, is a state-of-the-art facility with a prep area, showcase space and interactive ideation and breakout area, which will be used for the Co-Labs initiative to host live product testing and demonstrations, as well as interactive workshops.

The Trend Book packages trend knowledge from multiple reputable data sources, bringing these to life for valuable use. The short, medium and long-term mega and macro trends identified will ensure retailers can keep their finger on the pulse of the changing landscape and its impacts on consumer behaviour, alongside Princes. Then, by deep diving into the micro trends, the Co-Labs will be able to explore the hot opportunity areas for future growth whilst keeping the thinking firmly planted in consumer needs. Granular detail is provided on each trend, including evidential data and product examples to make the book as user friendly and useful as possible. In addition, there’s the ‘so what’ which provides suggestions as to how this trend might be used when creating strategy or driving food knowledge into businesses.

Princes Group’s Trend Book is available on its website