There is a need to upgrade the image of eggs, David Bosshart of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institut, Switzerland, said at the International Egg Commission recent meeting in Budapest, Hungary. Anything perceived as a commodity has a lower image and is seen “as a loser”. He stressed that the power of opinion leaders should never be underestimated. “If a celebrity chef says that non-cage eggs are better, this will impact on other chefs,” he added.

Brands are growing in importance. Consumers need choice and it is the brand that differentiates between products, he said.

Around the world, the private label share of the market is growing. Large retailers have the advantage of a personal, direct, and daily consumer interaction. If they do a good job, people became more trusting of them and believe in their competence, which make it easier for the retailer to introduce new products and services.

Bosshart said that it is essential to know precisely what makes consumers tick and particularly whether they are prepared to pay a higher price. With the evolution of technology and in particular the internet with its search engines, managers have better tools than ever before for finding out more about the market and what consumers think.

Increased choice has led to consumer confusion in the marketplace. “The bigger the choice, the greater the need to differentiate products to help consumers make their purchases,” he added. Customer confusion is currently a topical issue in supermarkets, he noted.

Advertisement

Bosshart reminded attendees that they are competing against other food products as well as rival eggs. Looking to the future, he forecast that both the mass and premium markets would see more segmentation.

He said that people at one expensive store, people are willing to pay as much as 35 Euros ($49.70 USD) for a bottle of water, which indicates that it was possible to sell anything at higher prices. A few years ago, these buyers were purchasing champagne and duck or goose liver, but now they bought water and a herring sandwich. “The cost was the same but there has been a change in consumer attitudes in how they perceive health, food and drink, and how animals should be treated,” he said.

The age where the manufacturer was in the driving seat is over and now the private label is. “Indeed, some retailers’ labels are perceived as national brands,” he added. Retailers will invest more in research and development and in image advertising, which used to be the domain of the manufacturers.

But, Bosshart said, future technology is moving power increasingly away from the retailer to the consumer. “The consumer will dictate what they want,” he added. New technology will give rise to increased transparency. “Consumers will know all about you and your company,” he said. High technology would also allow for more personalized products.

The potential for differentiation are many—health (the most important), freshness (consumers perceived freshness as equating with healthy), safety (becoming more important), and convenience.