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Gluten Free – A Lifestyle Choice

Gluten Free – A Lifestyle Choice

Each week, it feels, a new diet dominates the headlines, whether it’s the Atkins-inspired cutting of carbs, the Mediterranean Diet of plentiful fresh fruit and veg, or indeed intermitted fasting, the choices are endless and there is always something ‘new’ to try. But, whilst there may be an abundance of choice, lack of longevity is something a lot of these diets have in common.

A new movement

Image Courtesy of thenewsin1, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of thenewsin1, flickr. com

One notable trend which has been quietly moving its way up the popularity scale is going ‘gluten-free’. Once primarily a diet born out of necessity for the gluten-allergic masses, it is now fast becoming a lifestyle choice for many who simply want to maintain a trimmer silhouette. Miley Cyrus follows it, as does Gwyneth Paltrow, and it appears now that so does the British public. 

Gluten is a protein found in grains, and is typically quite difficult for the body to digest – it is widely reported to cause bloating, skin conditions, heartburn and fatigue amongst other problems. But as a nation, Britain has been the victim of gluten overload in recent years, all due to the significant increase in the uses of highly refined flour in our everyday food, and it is now that the effects are starting to show – 45% of the nation is now reported to have gluten sensitivities and people are choosing to ditch the Gluten in an effort to avoid the wrath.

How are supermarkets responding to this trend?

 

Image Courtesy of aprylmayhem, flickr. com

Image Courtesy of aprylmayhem, flickr. com

Reported to be one of the fastest growing food categories in the past 4 years it would seem that Supermarkets are well and truly jumping on the Gluten Free bandwagon. Consumer demand for Gluten Free produce is on the rise, and big chains like Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Asda now finding themselves having to cater for the masses, with shelves and isles dedicated to a plethora of Gluten Free goodies. Sainsbury’s ‘Free From’ range, for example, offers a great variety of breads, cereals, pasta’s and sweet treats, and high street coffee shops like Costa Coffee are bucking the trend with their Gluten Free Cherry Bakewells and range of sandwiches.

What are the PR opportunities?

It has been duly noted by these retailers that this is very much a lifestyle choice which is here to stay and that the way forward is to respond to the trend and meet customer demand. But there are of course benefits to these chains in riding the wave – being seen to support a variety of diet lifestyle choices will appeal to the general public and from a PR perspective it opens up a window of opportunity for supermarkets to talk about this trend and the great range of product available. It can be used as strong leverage to help position these supermarkets at the forefront of trend and really shout about their ability to adapt to ever-evolving consumer demand.

LUSH PR Stunt

Images Courtesy of Pip, flickr.com

Images Courtesy of Pip, flickr.com

Lush has taken action to fight against animal testing in the cosmetic industry.  Though made illegal across the EU three years ago, many companies still run tests on animals for cosmetic products.  Lush took to their flagship shop on Regent Street to raise awareness about animal cruelty by bringing these brutalities to the public’s attention.  They exposed testing methods normally done on animals and tested them on an actual human on one of the busiest streets in London.

Performance artist, Jacqueline Traide, 24, was hauled on a leash to the shop’s window. Over the course of the next 10 hours, she endured numerous poking and prodding, was force-fed, and went through two saline injections. Not to fret, she didn’t suffer any ‘actual’ pain. But the experiment stopped shoppers and those passing by dead in their tracks as they witnessed the all too real reality of animal testing.

As a Fashion & Lifestyle PR  team, we keep abreast of PR stunts and are also big Lush consumers. As such two thoughts came to mind, the first being shock and dismay, followed by a desire to help Lush fight against those malicious test centres and cosmetic companies who use, abuse, and then kill innocent animals.

PR stunts take place every week, with some gaining more coverage than others. Lush took a step outside the conventional box by combining the harsh reality of the cosmetic industry with emotions of shock and horror to appeal to an empathetic public, and as a result, it was a huge success.  The stunt challenges men and women to consider the darker aspects of an industry which exclusively exists to make us feel good.

The response to the stunt was predominantly positive, with hundreds stopping to sign the ‘fight against animal testing’ petition. Yet, a large number of individuals simply stopped, watched, and moved on without taking the time to make a difference. Criticism has come from the public, stating that while it is still legal in the UK to sell cosmetics that have been animal tested in other parts of the world, including North America and China, the stunt would have perhaps been better suited in a country that legally allows the cruelty to happen. Others spoke out saying Lush took the image of violence too far.

Lush received positive press coverage around the world for their stunt.  Yes, the images were startling and uncomfortable to view, but they made people aware of the dark secrets in the cosmetic industry.  It encourages men and women to consider how their product was created the next time they make a cosmetic purchase. As far as PR stunts go, the shock factor paid off with 200,000 signatures for their petition and chances are an increase in their sales. A startling, but successful campaign that’s got us thinking twice about my next cosmetic purchase!

The Name of the Game – Starbucks Get Friendly With New Campaign

Image Courtesy of Katarina Ribnikar, flickr.com

Image Courtesy of Katarina Ribnikar, flickr.com

Last Wednesday Starbucks got everyone very excited when they launched their new PR campaign to offer everyone a free latte to celebrate a new initiative to stop charging customers for an extra shot of coffee, should they want it.

Being a daily Starbucks customer myself, there was no way I was going to miss out on this opportunity so popped to Great Marlborough Street to see what was happening. Inside I was greeted at the back of the queue by a smiley member of staff who was waiting for me to say the magic password “Hi my name is Jacqueline” – a compulsory part of the exercise in order to obtain your free latte.

I then gave the barista my name and order and once it was ready they called my name to say it was ready, rather than the name of the drink as they usually do. I honestly found that this kind of service brightened my day, and reminded me of the same sense of welcome conveyed when you walk into a store in the United States. The atmosphere was very buzzy with lots of strangers talking to each other discussing the goings-on. The happiness was definitely spreading and you could certainly tell that people left with a smile on their face having had a happy start to their day.

In terms of lifestyle PR, Starbucks are THE go-to brand, having created the ultimate lifestyle experience through its brand. Buying a Starbucks has (through effective branding, marketing and PR) become a choice based on your lifestyle, rather than your thirst.

What is the general verdict on this new campaign though? As a stereotype, we Brits may deem this an invasion of privacy. In my opinion, having that personal touch does make the customer feel special and this was proven by the atmosphere in Starbucks on the day.  With customer service standards seemingly dwindling these days let’s hope Starbucks have started a trend that will spread to other businesses.