When that night is in the exotic seafront Hotel Arts, and the reason is to be present as nominee for the Best Sustainability Initiative of The World Juice Awards 2012 ?
So I didn't.
There was method to the madness.
First up, there is no such thing as no excuse for PR, and an award can't hurt.
But, more importantly, one gets to run shoulders (at a usual few thousand Euro per delegate conference) with the kind of folk who may yet take an interest in my little invention.
Anyway, first the less good news: I didn't win. Close, but no cigar. Runner-up only. But still creditable given the competition, and many others who were not shortlisted.
OK, enough about me. Losers are not interesting.
However, a few of the seminars I was able to attend were. Very. And useful. So much so that at the Q&A to all I was at, the Junkk.com rep's hand was constantly up.
So let me pop in a little, highly personal, 'review' of those I managed to catch (with a few pictures too - they're taken from the audience, so not great quality):
Examining NPD within the Smoothie Category
James Ajaka - Chief Nudie - Nudie Foods Australia
Very much in the mould of Innocent here, the product(s), person and style was appealing.
They for sure have benefited from being direct and honest with their consumer audience, to the extent of creating labelling that 'tells it as it is', even admitting that their oranges were not domestic during the drought that meant local sourcing was not possible. Admirable.
Sadly I missed most of his talk by only just arriving, but had a good chat afterwards.
Embedding Sustainability into the DNA of a Packaging Company
Dagfinn Hansen - Senior Mgr, Corp Environment - Elopak Norway
As the category and conference sponsor, a good one to catch.
Not least because these guys are in the business of packaging.
Norwegian-based, Elopak have the commitment to sustainability for which Northern Europe, and its brands, are renowned.
'Boss' Mr. Wright was quoted as saying 'What you can measure, you can manage', so the numbers were a key aspect here. And they are prepared to place a $ value on consumer innovation.
It also seems they have thrown a lot behind this, coming up with a plan called 'Futureproof 2020'.
So, big on insiprational quotes, they have a strategy based on the nautical saying 'If you have no direction, no wind will be positive for you'.
While they were big on the '3P's' - People, Profit, Planet - they are sadly more interested in only 2 'R's': recyclability and renewability. Reuse was mentioned, but only in the context of recycling. I'll have to see if I can persuade them to 'tweak' that (in this chart caps as part of the supplier chain are an aspect over which they.... currently... have no carbon reduction control)!
Especially as the mantra was that sustainability cannot, as I have found so often elsewhere, be viewed as a side stream, being required as an integral part of the business. Indeed, they have 6 pillars allocated to corporate management, and involve all the company in driving the value chain.
They are seeking to create new heroes. Maybe I can yet interest them in acheiveing that.
How Can We Push "Brand Value" to the Consumer
Sam Waterfall - Healthy Marketing Team UK
Another interesting one.
My first thought was that pushing is never good; much better to embrace the consumer into the brand value, lured via end benefit.
But he got me on board by empathising with all who have suffered, or are suffering from 'being ahead of their time'. I heard that!
He pushed the notion of being first vs. being better.
Again that's a winner for RE:tie, but by being first and the best. Win-win!
However he also damped my mood somewhat by sharing that a new idea takes, on average, 7 years to work into just the first glimmers of being embraced and accepted!
He shared some interesting case histories, including a Soya one, culminating in a bottle design that contained the same old soya milk, but was premier priced because of the brand values coferred by the packaging and marketing. And popular.
Now, what about a simple redesign that has a perceived additional value to the consumer of 2p (see research thread, plus both green and grey market benefits on top? Hmnnnn?
Examining the Latest Consumer Trends for Juice & how to use them to Structure NPD
David Bird, Senior Analyst - DataMonitor
Finally, some more 'pure' research.
This was very much viewed as 'new' vs. 'old', while I still see great potential for giving what is old, estabslsihed, but maybe tired.... a new lease of life too.
Because... 80-90% of 'new' products don't make it. Many reasons, but innovation often fails by not meeting consumer needs. But also... they can be put off by what is not familiar.
I see this as a vindication for the evolution that RE:tie represents.
He too shared some new, innovative packaing. Including a Sainsbury's juice carton that I hade never seen or heard of, but is an award winner (must try and locate it!).
I found it intriguing, because that looks like a very expensive, non-eco design (multiple components and materials), and while there is a benefit (visual measure of portions), hardly the most necessary or earth-shattering to throw weight behind.
It reminds me that Sainsbury's did try the milk pouch with some hefty A&P support, but this doesn't seem to have really caught on yet, if at all.
And on the matter of A&P, in the Q&A I aksed about the amounst needed in support of such new ideas, but David did not know as not his area. He did say he didn't think support of this nature was necessary, but I had to and still doubt that.
Still, some interesting market data on top.
With luck, some of it may yet pay dividends. But if not, I got in a bit of great sightseeing as I waited for the bus:)