MB Talks With Cleo Farman & Diablesse Rum

Consumer, Drink, Events, Hospitality, Industry, Insight, Interview, Retail

Posted on 15 November 2022

As a wave of drinks brands look to innovate and evolve in a post-Covid world, consumers are often left wading through an overwhelming number of choices that currently flood the shelves of bars, restaurants, and supermarkets alike.

This sudden burst of quality spirits has birthed a highly competitive market, with one such brand, launching on the cusp of the global pandemic, having embraced the highs and lows of the unpredictable, yet exciting drinks industry.

Born out of a deep love for the Caribbean and a desire to shake up the rum category, this unique brand has gone above and beyond, voyaging across the oceans to bring us a range of quality, craft rums… with a twist.

MacGregor Black talks with Cleo Farman, Managing Director of award-winning drinks company, Diablesse Rum, about ‘savouring over sessioning’, breaking the sailor mold, and what the future holds for this ambitious brand.

MacGregor Black: So, Cleo, to someone who’s never come across Diablesse Rum before, how would you introduce the brand?

Cleo: Gosh, where do I start? First of all, I’m proud to say it’s the first female-owned rum brand in the UK (Yay!). Diablesse was born out of a HUGE appreciation for quality Caribbean rums, where people have distilled rum since the early 17th century and is where I think the best rums come from! The figurehead of the brand, the beautiful woman on the label, is La Diablesse, a mythical female enchantress character from Caribbean folklore. The purpose of the brand is to change people’s outdated perception of rum which still seems to be that it’s mega strong and quite samey flavours, if you know what I mean?

MacGregor Black: And why did you choose La Diablesse to represent the brand?

Cleo: Some of the best master distillers out there are women but unfortunately, you wouldn’t always know that. I wanted to get a bit more female representation in the industry, and I was lucky enough to come across Diablesse. She was a temptress that also stood for female empowerment and she’s of Caribbean descent so represents the heritage of the beautiful rums in the blends (and it would be a travesty to put anyone else on the label in my opinion), But, yeah, I thought her character sat well with the brand and what we stand for, which is that: Diablesse rum is a female forward inclusive rum brand, is flavour lead and is here to show people that there’s more to rum than they might think.

MacGregor Black: With so many spirits out there to work with, why did you choose to launch a rum brand?

Cleo: Basically, I used to be a gin drinker but, to be honest, I got a bit bored. And since I used to own four bars in Manchester, that gave me a really good platform to explore distinct categories of spirits and I discovered that I quite liked rum.

So, I went off to the Caribbean and looked at the distilleries there, met with loads of impressive people that knew a lot about rum and I really loved it. Ok, I’m going to be a nerd now, but my Diablesse Golden Rum is a blend of an eight-year-old double distilled rum from Barbados, a four-year-old copper pot still rum from Jamaica and a three-year-old rum that’s made in the only wooden column still in the whole world! It’s been really exciting working with all these lovely flavours and pairing them up to see what fits.

MacGregor Black: So, what exciting things do you have going on now at Diablesse Rum?

Cleo: Oh my gosh. Loads of things! So, right now I’m going through a major fundraise. There’s so much money involved in launching a spirit brand. I’ve put a lot of my own money into the brand because I believe in Diablesse and now that I’ve demonstrated, through a good sales record, that people like it and want to buy it, I’m now looking for investors to join me!

I’ve also got a new Marketing person starting with me soon who is working with me to put together quite an ambitious marketing plan. If we raise the money, we’ll be doing activations across the UK, attending festivals, and just working hard to get the brand message out there, really. Which is nerve-wracking but also super exciting!

Diablesse Rum is also going to be making an appearance at the Manchester Christmas markets this year, which is 41 days solid of talking about rum! I’ve put a team together and we’ll be there to spread the message and speak with anyone who’s interested in knowing more (and to give everyone a taste!)  I’m really looking forward to it. We’ve got a stall at St Anne’s Square, and we’ll be there from the 10th of November, so come and see us!

MacGregor Black: What would you say your most ambitious goal is for the Diablesse Brand?

Cleo: I’d love to open a little distillery under the Diablesse brand, where I could experiment with creating more of my own small batch limited addition rums. I’d like to have a brand home at some point in the near future, where people can learn about the company, visit our in-house bar, and really get a feel for the complete Diablesse experience. And I’d also love to see Diablesse launch into the US and China, but not just yet. 

But, having said all that, I’d say my most ambitious goal for the brand is, like I say, to change people’s opinion about rum entirely. In the UK, a lot of people still associate rum with the Navy and it’s seen as quite a male drink. You know, you’ve got many rums brands such as, Neptune Rum, Captain Morgan, or Sailor Jerry, but I wanted to do something a bit different. Bring a new light in and really shake up people’s perception of rum to see it as something that can be savoured, rather than chucked back with a coke mixer. ’Savour, not session’ is what I’m going for!

After building Diablesse here and abroad, one of my most ambitious personal goals is to launch into different spirits, but not under the Diablesse brand. Diablesse is so personal to rum and the Caribbean, so I don’t think another spirit would sit under that brand. I would probably look to get into white spirits, but not gin. There you go, there’s a clue… yeah, Gin is brilliant, it’s doing really well but not gin ….  I’d like to keep away from that.

MacGregor Black: Having been there and done it, what advice would you offer someone looking to launch their own brand-new rum brand?

Cleo: Well, firstly I’d say do your homework! It takes a lot to get off the ground, there’s so many hoops you have to jump through for instance getting your licenses from HMRC. I even had people check my home to make sure I wasn’t some sort of dodgy rum dealer! For Diablesse, I store a lot of the rum under bond, which basically means I stored my rum in HMRC-operated warehouses and am only required to pay the Alcohol tax once I’ve taken a bottle out of the warehouse, rather than paying it all in one go. That has helped with cashflow immensely, but you have to get special government licenses to be able to do it and it can be quite difficult.

Secondly, I’d say be honest with your forecasting. It costs a lot more money than you’d ever think to get going, I learned that the hard way.

Another thing is, you’ve got to build your distribution. Once you’ve made your rum, how are people actually going to buy it? It’s not often that you can just walk into a bar and say, here, I have a rum, do you want to sell it? You need to work with wholesalers, which can be hard and takes a lot of time. I started out doing markets to push Diablesse out there and that’s how I met my wholesaler. I now have a distributor that sells to wholesalers, so I’ve gone about it that way.

Lastly, build a brand that means something. Don’t just think, ok, I want to make a rum because I want to make lots of money because people see right through that. people want to know who you are, what you’re about, what drives you and what drives the brand. For me, I really like rum and I’ve built the brand around a story that resonates with what I’m trying to achieve.

MacGregor Black: And finally, to round things off, which Diablesse drink would you recommend to newcomers?

Cleo: I’m sorry, but I love them all!

Well, I guess you could say my personal favourite is our Golden Rum with a ginger and lime mixer, but that’s not always to everyone’s taste, is it? So, I’d recommend trying the Clementine Spice Rum, paired with a Fever Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale mixer, or at this time of year, hot apple juice! I also really love the Diablesse Coconut & Hibiscus Flower Rum with Franklin’s Pineapple and Almond mixer. All of those are delicious and I drink them at home.

If you would like to speak with our specialist team of Drinks Consultants, or would like to discuss featuring in our next MB Talks, contact us on 0191 691 1949 or email us at hello@macgregorblack.com

Advertising, Case Study, Consumer, Cosmetics, Fashion, Health & Beauty, Industry, Insight, Marketing, Retail, Social Media, Technology

Posted on 27 October 2022

When social media first popped up in the late 90’s, none of us could have predicted the astronomical growth it would undergo, nor the influence it would ultimately hold over our lives.

What began as a way to simply connect with friends, has since become one of the most powerful global platforms of our time, able to reach millions of targeted people in milliseconds and influence the way we shop, vote, and even feel. Evolving far beyond your typical networking tool, social media has opened up opportunities for not only the every-day-scroller, but for businesses also.

But is the way we use social media set to change? And have brands had enough?

MacGregor Black takes a closer look at social media, and why some brands are taking a permanent break from it.

Social Media vs… The Battle of the Brands

With Facebook alone connecting 2.11 billion users all over the globe, it’s no surprise that social media has come to play an integral part in many of our lives. But with such scale, how is it possible to monitor and control 2.11billion individual narratives? The simple answer is… it isn’t.

With such publicity, comes scrutiny. And as platforms such as Facebook continue to embed themselves deeper into our society, many users are beginning to highlight some of their potential negative effects. One particular issue that continues to dominate the conversation, is social media’s relationship with our mental health.

In recent years, research has provided us with a plentiful evidence pool linking social media usage with a number of mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and body dysmorphia. According to a 2022 Healthline study of 1,042 U.S citizens, 29% of participants of all age groups felt they needed to take regular social media breaks, in order to feel a benefit to their mental health. This number increased to a shocking 46% amongst 15–24-year-olds.

So, what can be done about this, and who’s responsibility is it to take control?

Lush Cosmetics

Noting the negative effects that social media was having on many of its customers, global cosmetics company, Lush, took a stand; and in 2021, decided to cut ties with online platforms Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat and Facebook.

The British retailer released a statement to accompany their decision:

“From 26th November 2021, the global Lush brand will be turning its back on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat, until the platforms take action to provide a safer environment for users. This policy is rolling out across all the 48 countries where Lush operates. In the same way that evidence against climate change was ignored and belittled for decades, concerns about the serious effects of social media are going largely ignored now. Lush is taking matters into its own hands and addressing the issues now, not waiting around until others believe in the problem before changing its own behaviour.” 

Tesla Motors & SpaceX

Pre-dating Lush’s decision by almost three years, in March 2018, tech billionaire Elon Musk joined the race against social media; deliberately deleting both Tesla’s and SpaceX’s Facebook business pages.

Having regularly aired his opinion publicly, it is widely known that Elon Musk distrusts the way Facebook handles their consumer data. The decision then came to pull both his business pages, following a tragically historic week for the social media company, one that still sits fresh in our memory. In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica scandal prompted a wave of mistrust against Facebook, which later gave rise to the #deletefacebook hashtag.

At the time of the scandal, WhatsApp Co-Founder, Brian Acton tweeted in protest, “it is time #deletefacebook”, in which Musk responded sarcastically, “What’s Facebook?”. The Silicon Valley entrepreneur then went on to tweet that he thought Tesla’s Facebook page was “lame”.

In a final act, Musk was challenged by Twitter users to delete Tesla’s and SpaceX’s pages, “if he really was ‘the man’”, and in typical form, Musk declared he would delete them immediately. Sure enough, in under 30 minutes both business pages were cut from Facebook, and the following media attention, combined with the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, caused Facebook’s stock to plunge 6%.

Elon Musk has since gained the reputation as the modern day ‘Robin-Hood’ of free speech, as in April of this year, the eccentric billionaire made another daring move. This time, against Twitter.

In an effort to force change, on April 14th of this year, Musk made a bid to buy the social networking site for $54.20 per share, putting one of the world’s richest people at the helm of one of the world’s most influential platforms. Musk declared that, should the deal go through, his first priority would be to crack down on data management. However, only weeks after Elon’s rather rambunctious offer, he sought to terminate the deal, citing concerns over the social media company’s use of bots on the platform, artificially inflating their user numbers. Claims which were later supported by a company whistle blower. Twitter has since sued Musk to follow through with the acquisition. The judge overseeing the case has given both parties until the 28th of October to close the deal or face a trial in November.

Bottega Veneta

In 2021, globally established fashion house, Bottega Veneta announced their own bold move to completely cut social media from their marketing strategy.

Creative Director, Daniel Lee, stated in an interview with The Guardian that, “there is a mood of playground bullying on social media which I don’t really like. I wanted to do something joyful instead… I don’t want to collude in an atmosphere that feels negative.” However, despite personal comments from Lee, the Bottega Veneta company refrained from releasing an official statement to explain their swift exit from social media. Leading fans to believe that perhaps this was the company’s latest strategic move in creating the ultimate luxury brand?

Kalyani Saha Chawla, former VP of Marketing & Communications at Dior believes luxury brands need to re-consider the fine balance between over-accessibility and exclusivity, quoting to Grazia UK that,

“luxury brands are diluting their image by using the same social mediums that every high street brand is utilising. Luxury stands for exclusivity, and if it’s all over Instagram and Twitter, it becomes too accessible, which might not resonate with a niche audience.”

A message that sat fittingly with Bottega Veneta’s social media departure, as it came less than a month after it unveiled its exclusive “Salon 01 Spring/Summer Show”, which was being secretly recorded at the time. Shortly after Bottega Veneta’s decision to ditch social, luxury apparel brand, Balenciaga quickly followed suit, wiping all of its content from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Perhaps another strategic move with this decision also preceding the brand’s first haute couture show in over 50 years…

Answering the Burning Question… What Happened Next?

In today’s society, it’s near impossible to picture a global company succeeding without a social media presence, but alas…some of our favourite cosmetics companies, automotive developers and high-end fashion brands claim they are already paving the way to find a successful future without ‘the Gram’.

Lush Cosmetics

After announcing their departure from its social media channels in 2021, cosmetics brand Lush turned to creating what they felt would be, authentic, quality content on the company’s online site instead. At the time, the company released a statement assuring shoppers that, ‘there are plenty of other places to take a dip into the Lush world’, stating that customers could still engage with the brand through shops, events, through the customer care team and on other digital platforms like Lush Player, Lush.com and their Lush Labs app. However, it’s worth noting that some individual stores and Lush staff continued to be active on social media and the company even encouraged customers to continue using branded lush hashtags to promote their content organically. Meaning Lush would remain true to its anti-social media protest, whilst also still staying fresh on the screens of shoppers across the globe.

SpaceX & Tesla

Following Elon Musk’s bold decision to delete both SpaceX and Tesla’s business Facebook pages, the company went on the make an even bolder move in 2020, officially dissolving it’s entire PR department; dubbing it the first automaker to no longer engage with the press. When asked to comment on the move, the billionaire business magnate stated that he wouldn’t go back to having a PR department because he ‘doesn’t believe in manipulating public opinion,’. He responded to a twitter user that encouraged the reinstatement of the Tesla PR team, saying, ‘Other companies spend money on advertising & manipulating public opinion, Tesla focuses on the product. I trust the people.’

So, with a much-reduced social media presence and absolutely no PR staff, how does a multi-billion-dollar business like Tesla expect to stay ahead of the curve?

Well, the American clean energy company relies heavily on one of the most effective marketing strategies out there, word of mouth. Tesla runs a highly popular referral program that encourages customers to share their love for the brand with their friends and family. Tesla enthusiasts, and their referees can earn rewards like free supercharger miles and cash to spend on energy efficient products. Not only that, but the electric vehicle manufacturer also manages multiple customer forums, hosts a global ‘owners club’, and is regularly involved in giving back to the communities they operate in. All of which are great ways to establish a strong brand message without even so much as a ‘share’. However, it’s worth noting that Musk himself has been a driving force behind Tesla and SpaceX’s ongoing success. His loud, charismatic, and sometimes even controversial social media presence certainly draws enough attention to both brands…

Bottega Veneta

Founded in 1996 in Vicenza, Italy by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro, Bottega Veneta has since firmly established itself as a high-end, luxury fashion house. Their fine leather handbags and quality crafted accessories don the frames of wealthy style icons in all corners of the world, that no doubt, enjoy scrolling as much as the rest of us.

Which is precisely what Bottega Veneta was counting on…

Despite not posting on their business account anymore, Bottega Veneta lives on through the Instagram pages of their loyal customers, influencers, and external partnerships. Rather than coming directly from the brand, content like product launches, events, and brand promotions make the rounds mainly through organic, user-generated content. Which enhances the brand’s exclusive image and cuts out a huge chunk of their workload. So, in theory, they can kick back and reap the rewards as customers are naturally drawn to their brand.

A strategy in which Bottega Veneta took to heart as at the time, the luxury brand doubled down on its quarterly online magazine in what they hoped would offer, “more progressive and more thoughtful” content. A goal in which many say they have successfully achieved since then. 

MacGregor Black’s Global Head of Marketing, Mark Thursby, commented:

“I couldn’t agree more with Kalyani Saha Chawla, in that many Luxury brands sit in a precarious position. One that almost caused the demise of the iconic British Fashion Brand Burberry during the 1990’s, where high demand was met with ease of accessibility. And I believe social media is currently turbocharging just that, or the false impression that luxury products are easily accessible.

Social media is a great equaliser in that it grants the average user access to countless celebrity and influencer lifestyles, mixed in with our friends and family. However, when our feeds are excessively filled with luxury goods, this directly drives demand to a potentially dangerous level. Therefore, when accessibility meets it, in the form of ‘replica’ products, via short-term financing options such as fashion rental, or services such as Klarna, a brand can pass a point of which it’s presence in a market is too heavily saturated and it ceases being perceived as ‘luxury’.

The same theory applies across the board. From cars, to homes, to holidays, and even our own physical appearance. When social media creates the illusion that all of these brilliant products are easily attainable, and not just that, they’re owned by your neighbour, your best friend, and the people you went to school with, the potential to damage a person’s self-esteem can be severe.

Therefore, with brands withdrawing from social media it’ll be very interesting to see what impact that has in the long-term. Will losing the central voice of their brand, do the opposite of what they aim to achieve, and create a more customer-controlled brand image? Or will it dampen demand down to sustainable levels and drive traffic through more ‘traditional’ channels where brands can better manage the battle between demand and access?”

Whilst there are many advantageous qualities to the root-and-branch reform of social media, something brands should consider is, one of most identifying features of a successful business is its powerful approach to customer loyalty. What social media offers consumers is the ability to receive quick responses via direct messaging, as well as the opportunity to engage with brands honestly and publicly on live comments. Some argue that, as a result of axing social media, businesses run the risk of potentially thinning the line of communication between themselves and their customers.

Is This the Way Forward?

Without doubt, social media is one of the most impactful and cost-effective marketing tools available today. But as we’ve recently discovered, some brands are beginning to stand up and take notice of the damage it may be causing to, not just to their customers or their brand image, but to wider society in general. Dubbed with a disregarding attitude towards mental health, rocky data management processes, and the potential to banish a brand’s luxury image, is the social media sparkle slowly dwindling?

And as globally recognised brands like Bottega Veneta, Tesla and Lush radically re-think their social media strategies, many of us are left asking the question, is this the beginning of the great social media snub?

Consumer, Drink, Events, Food, Gifting, Industry, Sustainability

Posted on 12 October 2022

Just a few short generations ago our planet’s natural resources seemed cheap, easy to acquire, and plentiful, with the consequences of our actions too often an afterthought. The hard truth is that the responsibility has fallen upon each one of us to make better decisions, as the choices we make in our everyday lives, known or unknown to us, have a cumulative impact on the world we live in. 

Fast forward to present day and with the domino’s beginning to fall, the race to repair, redesign, and replace has begun. 

With the combat against climate change now one of the most important conversations of our generation, a rising number of corporations have pledged to increase their sustainability efforts in the name of ‘going green’. But what does that really involve? How does a business ‘go green’? And why are some of our favourite household brands slow to following suit?

What does ‘Going Green’ really mean? 

To understand what it takes for a business to go green, first we must understand what the term means. In short, when a company decides to ‘go green’ it means they are making a conscious effort to reduce/offset the negative impact their operations have on the environment. 

Why Would a Business ‘Go Green’?

As mentioned in our last article, ‘MB Insights: Vertical Farming – Is the only way up?’, many of the earth’s natural resources are depleting. From the soil we plant in, to the fabrics we weave, it’s reported that there aren’t enough materials to sustain the population’s ever-growing demand for commerce. Therefore, aside from the main incentive of, sustaining the delicate ecosystem that is our planet, businesses are continuing to go green for a number of different reasons. 

One reason for adopting a greener strategy is, for the cynics among us, because it’s expected of them. In 2021, Deloitte conducted a study to explore how consumers are adopting a more sustainable lifestyle and found that an overwhelming 61% of consumers had consciously reduced their usage of single use plastics. The study also revealed that nearly 1 in 3 consumers claimed to have stopped purchasing certain environmentally impactful brands or products entirely. A clear sign that a growing number of customers are judging their favourite brands, based upon their impact on the environment. 

Studies have also shown that such practices aren’t just influencing our shopping habits. A further investigation revealed that 74% of employees interviewed, say their job is more fulfilling when they’re provided with the opportunity to make a positive impact on social and environmental issues. Evidence that developing a sustainability focused corporate social responsibility programme is not only directly influencing customers, but also candidates. So much so, that ‘going green’ is now one of the top five internal practices that encourages an positive corporate culture. 

Going green isn’t just a positive change for the environment, it’s also good for your wallet! Although a number of large upfront costs are difficult to avoid, in the long-term, efficiency saves money. As companies look to reduce their energy consumption, minimise their use of wasted materials, and decrease their carbon footprint, with that eventually comes a reduction in operational costs. Not to mention the potential for a higher sales value, as consumers actively seek out ‘greener’ options. 

But perhaps the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. With many complex moving parts, and a large initial outlay, there comes a reduction in available capital, which in turn brings risk, a dampened ability to react, and a potential need to reduce costs elsewhere. For example, people. Which raises the question. Would you begrudge your favourite company for choosing survival over sustainability?

As mentioned earlier, both consumers and employees are favouring businesses based on their environmental impact. Unfortunately, this leaves us with the opportunity for businesses to appear to be more climate conscious than they really are. Typically, these companies only one goal in mind…fattening their profits. When companies use ‘green’ as a status symbol, this is often referred to in the industry as ‘greenwashing’. A term coined in 1986 by environmentalist, Jay Westerveld. One such example of this is the oil giant, Chevron. With the release of their TV, radio, and print advertising campaign in the 1980’s, the company proudly declared its dedication to executing positive environmental practices. Yet in reality, they were regularly violating the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act bills, while continuing to ‘spill’ tons of oil into wildlife refuges. 

Something brands should be wary of crossing is the thin line between promising eco-friendly practices and actually delivering on them. In a world where consumers increasingly demand accountability, it is all too easy for companies to accidently ‘greenwash’ their brand. Despite having the best initial intentions, situations like these arise as implementing a whole new sustainability strategy may not be a quick or smooth sailing process for some businesses. Ultimately leaving the company overwhelmed, underprepared and under-delivering on their promise. 

Finally, big or small, it’s clear to see that businesses can benefit from being more eco-friendly. For those sitting on the fence, a tip in the right direction might now come in the form of legal and regulatory compliance standards. For example, the UK government has recently committed to achieving a net zero society by 2050. Something that can only be met with the uncompromised support of businesses across the country. 

Is It Easy Being Green?

Is it easy being green? 

If we were to ask Kermit the frog, the answer would be no. 

If we were to ask the businesses out there that are making eco-friendly changes, the answer would probably still be no. 

However, we’re all familiar with the phrase, ‘nothing good comes easy’ and it’s safe to say that although it may be tricky, making greener choices has its benefits. So, what are the choices that businesses have and how do they make them?

One of the first, and arguably most important things a business might look at when starting their sustainability journey, is reducing their carbon emissions output. There are many ways to do this, one of which is a business dialling back on the amount of energy it consumes, or its partners consume. For example, if there’s a piece of equipment, large or small, that can be swapped out for a more sustainable alternative, such as energy saving light bulbs, motion sensitive lighting and smart thermostats, make the change! Or perhaps powering operations with renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, or trading petrol fuelled HGV’s for hybrid or fully electric fleet vehicles.

You know that meeting that definitely could have been an email, well… put it in an email! And if that can’t be done, switching to online meetings, or even offering a working from home option could not only this save businesses money, but also requires less travelling from the team– meaning less harm done to the planet – and… side bonus, no changing out of your PJ’s! As more and more people lean towards a remote/hybrid role, with sustainability (and PJ’s) being a huge factor in their decision, working from home is looking like it may be here to stay, with some businesses even claiming an increase in staff productivity as a result. According to a study performed by global job site, Indeed, searches for remote work have increased by more than 500% since February 2020, and job postings mentioning remote work have increased by 180%, now totalling 10% of all job posts on the site. Of course, this has been heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, which could also be another key driver in the demand for increased climate consciousness, with many people believing the lockdown gave the planet ‘a break’ from human interaction.

In order to meet the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of the future, not only do we need to improve sustainability in the workplace, but we also need to review and improve on the products being produced, including how they’re packaged. Many organisations are already making huge strides towards combating this issue, such as the global home, gift, and party accessories specialists, Talking Tables. Founded in London in 1999 by Clare Harris, with the ethos of bringing people together around the table, Talking Tables is a clear example of a company that truly takes responsibility for the impact their operations have on the planet. With sustainability at the heart of their brand, supporting the planet through their business success was a natural step for Talking Tables, who are keen to lead by example.

One of the first things the company wanted to improve on was their packaging. In particular, reducing the ‘P’ word, plastic. With packaging becoming a prime focal point for those that wish to be more conscious of their personal environmental impact, a great start to becoming more sustainable is swapping out plastic packaging for natural, biodegradable, or recycled alternatives. And so that’s exactly what Talking Tables did. After thorough research, the brand now packages most of their paper tableware products, such as paper plates and napkins, in card-based packaging. Producing an effective, attractive, and recyclable alternative. Along-side cardboard, another alternative is compostable packaging, which can be made entirely of bio-based polymers and non-toxic wheat or corn materials. However, Talking Tables avoided the use of bio-based polymers, such as PLA, due to fact that there’s a limited amount of bio plastic recycling facilities in the UK and an increased risk of potential contamination to plastic recycling streams.

Once their packaging got the ‘green’ light, Talking Tables were able to look at the overall design of their product and how they can make their range eco-friendlier. For those of us with a house party or two under our belts, or for the American Pie fans out there, the famous red party cup is legendary. But what most consumers don’t realise is that the well-known cups, aren’t quite as much fun for the planet. In-fact, most party cups contain an inner plastic lining that means they can’t be recycled and could even take a whopping 1,000 years to decompose. An issue that Talking Tables had to address. Thankfully, not only have they successfully created the world’s first recyclable party cup but have also taken further steps towards a ‘plastic-free’ status across 95% of their product roll out, as well has having launched a range of home compostable napkins. 

In the case of Talking Table’s, a key factor to their success has been partnering with the right suppliers. A practice that a number of multinational corporations have adopted, pledging to only work with suppliers that adhere to social and environmental standards, who in turn must expect the same from their suppliers. Therefore, creating a cascade of sustainable practices that flow smoothly throughout the supply chain. Ironically, one of the most prominent difficulties issues suppliers currently face, is automation. The more a supply chain is designed for mass production, the more likely it is that it’s automated, therefore the more difficult it is to make small changes to that cycle. As a result, some companies turn to overseas suppliers that use less automated equipment, although this still leaves them with the issue of transporting the goods across larger areas, which ultimately tips the scales back toward increasing their carbon emissions output. Therefore, cultivating loyal relationships with local suppliers becomes hugely important when it comes to relying on them for support when making changes. 

Talking Tables’ Director of Supply Chain, Daniel Fagan, comments on the need to build long-lasting relationships with reliable suppliers and how this affected their environmental goals: 

“When looking at the sustainability of our products and packaging, we found that one of the most important things to us was collaborating with the right suppliers. Over the years we’ve built long-lasting relationships with our partners, some of which we’ve worked with for over 10 years, and when the time came to looking at our collective environmental impact, everyone was all too happy to help. I think these trusting relationships and the loyalty we’ve built with them have played a huge part in the support we’ve had during our sustainability mission.”. 

To work out exactly how they were impacting the environment, Talking Tables sent out detailed surveys to their suppliers, asking about their waste management, their use of hazardous materials and chemicals (if any), and any other impacts they may be having on the planet. 

“From there, we worked hand-in-hand with our partners to make improvements and set action plans for our operations moving forward. Every two years, we hold a suppliers’ conference, as well as regular workshop sessions to keep everyone on the same page. As sustainability isn’t always at the forefront of supplier’s minds and they can often face issues like rising material costs, transport issues and high shipping costs, it’s up to businesses like us to drive the mission by supporting them through the process and keep them wanting to support us on our journey.” Said Daniel. 

We asked Daniel, if he was to offer a piece of advice to businesses going green, what would it be? 

“As well as being really passionate about my role, a key thing for Talking Tables is that a lot of the energy and drive around sustainability has come from the founders, Clare, and Mark. They are truly invested in wanting to make a change and for any company wanting to go green, you have to have the buy in from the top.”

“For us, what worked really well was breaking down everything we planned to do. Each year we’ve set specific pillars of strategy, with sustainability being one of them, and within that we built out all the key areas we want to go for that year. Whether that be a target on reducing the percentage of plastic we have in our products, or on boarding new or recycled materials. I think breaking it down annually, then breaking that down again to around 90 days helped us put it all in a digestible format and made it easier to communicate to the wider team.”

After chatting with Talking Tables, we can all rest easy knowing that there are businesses out there with a true passion and commitment to combating climate change. So much so, that Talking Tables are even on track to becoming officially B Corp Certified. A designation that signifies they are ‘leaders in the global movement for an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy’. A clear statement that the brand continues to invest in social and environmental practices, even offering all team members two volunteer days, a wellness budget and funding towards any training they wish to complete.  

As you’ve probably worked out, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to a business going green. The whole process depends on whether the sustainability changes being made are affordable, accessible, manageable, and dependable. All of which can be difficult to achieve for certain types of businesses but is vital to the longevity of our existence. At some point in the cycle, the responsibility also falls upon consumers to take accountability and make greener choices. 

However, with companies like Talking tables pioneering advancements in sustainability, there’s certainly hope for a greener future. 

The rest they say… is up to us. 

If you would like to speak with our team of dedicated Gifting & Accessories specialists, contact us on 0191 691 1949 or email us at hello@macgregorblack.com

Case Study, Consumer, Cosmetics, Health & Beauty, Industry, Insight, Sustainability

Posted on 7 October 2022

For thousands of years, skincare has played a vital role in many of our daily routines.

As early as 4000 BCE, our ancestors have experimented with creative and resourceful ways to enhance their physical appearance. Now, one modern trend looks to reshape the multi-billion-dollar global industry.

MacGregor Black takes a closer look at the cosmetics industry and its latest development, ‘Clean Beauty’.

The Cosmetic Industry

The ancient Greeks lathered their faces with honey and the early Egyptians exfoliated their skin with salts extracted from the Dead Sea. Our historic desire for the perfect complexion has echoed throughout the ages, giving birth to a £395.7billion industry we know today as, the cosmetics industry.

An industry where, in more recent years, many brands have drifted away from traditional techniques and ingredients forged in nature, instead turning to science in the search for success. Whilst such techniques may well have resulted in cheaper, more convenient, and (admittedly) in many cases more effective products. There is a newfound spotlight shining brightly on the long-term effects of pursuing perfection.

Fast forward to present day and an increasing amount of consumers are beginning to pay close attention to the products they consume. Labels are used to educate rather than attract, ingredients are analysed and understood, and brand are now held to account for the impact they have on not only our skin, but the world around us.

The result?

Cosmetics companies from across the globe are beginning to ditch the new for the old… all in the name of the ‘Clean Beauty Movement’.

What is Clean Beauty?

At its core, clean beauty refers to cosmetic products that are free of hormone disrupters, carcinogens and other harmful chemicals or ingredients such as, petrolatum, parabens, oxybenzone, phthalates or artificial fragrances, to name but a few.

Led by a rise in conscious consumerism, clean beauty products are flooding the cosmetics industry. And are we really surprised? According to data collected by Statista Research, almost half of 13–19-year-olds are interested in trying clean beauty and personal care products. In fact, in today’s market, clean beauty products generate around £350 million per year, with forecasts expecting 600% growth by 2024, totaling to a whopping £20 billion worldwide.

Clean beauty products are not only defined by their use of safe, non-toxic ingredients but are also bolstered by their transparency. There is a conscious movement towards tearing down the wall of secrecy that has previously surrounded many well-known brands, as modern consumers seek to educate themselves to better the decisions they make. So much so, that according to a recent survey conducted by Statista Research, 66% of 13-39-year-olds are more likely to buy a personal care or beauty product that has a ‘clean’ label on it.

Long gone are the days when consumers shopped solely for designer names or fancy packaging alone. Ingredients are now firmly under the microscope, with favour falling heavily to transparent beauty brands that clearly list not only exactly what is in their products, but also omits ingredients that can potentially harm.

Now to some, the conversation may end there. After all, a ‘clean’ label must mean it’s clean, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In truth, there is no legal or official definition for clean beauty at this moment in time. And in the absence of clearly defined rules bring ambiguity. Ambiguity that many brands have taken advantage of, seeking to define clean beauty according to their own agendas. Not only that, but the cosmetics industry sadly isn’t as regulated as we’d all like it to be and as a result, some brands have the ability to mislead their customers. For example, ‘fragrance’ is not an ingredient but due to the lack of detailed regulation, companies can hide toxic ingredients in their products under the banner term ‘Fragrance’.

This is precisely what Clean Beauty aims to correct.

What Else Could Be Considered ‘Clean Beauty?’

Fuelled by a sudden boom in the health and wellness sector, many brands have opted to launch products that are not only labelled as ‘clean’, but also ‘organic’, ‘cruelty-free’, ‘green’ or ‘natural’. We’ve broken down those terms for you below.

Organic

For a product to be dubbed ‘organic’, it must be composing of at least 95% organic materials, formulated using organic farming, handled and manufactured in coordination with specific laws, free of genetically modified ingredients and must be officially certified as ‘organic’. Unlike the food & drink industry, the term ‘organic’ in cosmetics has little regulation and unless a product has gone through an extensive testing process to become officially certified, it’s difficult to guarantee it contains truly organic ingredients. However, one thing to bear in mind is, in the United States the USDA organic certification isn’t cheap and therefore some smaller health and beauty companies operating out of the US can’t always afford to display the official USDA organic certification seal, despite their products being truly organic. So, it’s best to do your research!

According to data collected by Mordor Intelligence, the organic skincare market is expected to grow by 8.5% per year through to 2026. Currently, the market is primarily dominated by a select group of large cosmetics companies, however as more and more beauty brands reap the benefits of producing organic products, we expect to see a surge of new contributors entering into this space.

Cruelty-Free

With the same passion shown for their own health, many consumers are pushing for the cosmetics industry to also be more conscious of the effect they have on animals.

Unfortunately, the cosmetics industry has a long and ugly history of testing on animals. Thankfully, and in large part due to consumer backlash, this is slowly changing, and many beloved brands are now opting to test their products using other methods of research instead. For example, cosmetics companies can utilise vitro testing (the practice of testing on human cells and tissue), silico testing (testing using computer modelling techniques) and are also able to test their products with the help of human volunteers.

As cruelty-free brands become more popular, there’s a common misconception that these products are also ‘vegan’. Whilst cruelty-free products share the same sentiment as vegan products and aim to protect animals as much as possible, cruelty-free products can still contain ingredients derived from an animal, despite them not being sourced in ways that could prove harmful to the animal. For example, a product that contains honey could be considered cruelty-free, as extracting honey from the hive doesn’t harm to the bees, however, the product is not vegan as it still contains animal ingredients.

If you’d like to know which products are cruelty-free, keep your eyes peeled for official cruelty-free logos and certifications.

Green

Easily confused with ‘clean’ beauty, ‘green’ beauty refers to products that cause no harm to the environment. From its manufacturing to its ingredients, all elements of a green beauty product will have little to no impact on the planet.

One of the most talked about topics within green beauty right now is, sustainable packaging. According to a study conducted by specialist health & beauty agency, The Pull Agency, nine out of ten shoppers (88%; rising to 93% of Generation Z) look for sustainability credentials in their beauty and personal care purchases and a third (32%) have deliberately chosen a sustainable brand in the past.

However, despite the swelling demand from consumers, the cosmetics industry is one of the top contributors to plastic pollution, producing more than 120 billion units of packaging waste every year. This is because, sadly, much of the packaging used in the health and beauty sector is comprised of a mixture of materials that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to recycle.

Natural

As reported by Nielsen, 40.2% of consumers say they look for natural ingredients when making a purchase. However, buzzwords like ‘natural’ are tricky to define.

In a nutshell, if a product is claiming to contain ‘natural’ ingredients, it’s more than likely referring to the essential oils inside the product. An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile chemical compounds derived from plants, and depending on how concentrated the oils are, this could drastically change their effects on your health. Whilst they are natural, if they’re not formulated correctly, essential oils could damage the protective barrier across the skin, which is why when racing to grab the latest ‘natural’ products from the shelves, consumers should still always be conscious of the ingredients inside them. However, more often than not, essential oils incorporated within manufactured products go through a degree of regulation and are usually pretty safe to use.

How Much Damage Can Products Really Do?

Since there are little regulations around keeping harmful ingredients out of cosmetics, the clean beauty movement must be led by health-conscious-consumers and companies alike. Being aware of the effects that certain ingredients in products can have on both our safety and the planet is the first step down the path to true clean beauty.

Preservatives such as parabens, used by brands to increase the shelf life of their products, have been known to cause skin irritations, allergic reactions, and in some cases, have even been known to disrupt the hormones in our bodies, causing fertility issues and increasing the risk of cancer. And that’s just one ingredient!

Similar to parabens, phthalates, which are used to bind a product with a fragrance, can also cause allergic reactions, hormone disruptions and irritate our skin.

As you can see, some (not all) of the ingredients used in health and beauty products can have long lasting, harmful effects on our health, but did you know that some of them can also do just as much damage to the planet?

Oxybenzone is an ingredient most commonly found in sunscreens, used to protect our skin from the harsh UV rays. Although used in over 3500 sunscreens worldwide, this popular ingredient offers far less protection than we might think…Not only does oxybenzone act as a human hormone blocker, but it has also been known to bleach and cause serious damage to coral reefs. Many consumers aren’t aware of this, nor are they aware that there are many suncream brands out there that opt to use zinc-oxide or titanium oxide instead of oxybenzone, both of which are kinder on our skin and the planet.

We can understand why products using synthetic ingredients can often get a bad rep (especially after reading the above!) and whilst we might assume that natural ingredients are superior to lab-created synthetic ingredients, this isn’t always the case. In fact, after years of detailed research and development, many skincare brands have been able to create safe synthetic chemicals as a method of maintaining the purity of their products and increasing their shelf life. Which in turn, means less packaging waste and a smaller carbon footprint!

Brands to Watch

As the demand for clean beauty soars and an abundance of new products pop up in stores across the globe, it can be tricky to pin down which brands are truly clean.

MacGregor Black spoke with Health & Beauty sector specialist, Kriisti Atherton, to review her top clean beauty brands and why they made the cut.

The Ordinary

A common question many people have about clean beauty brands is, are the products worth the money? It seems that the cleaner the label, the steeper the cost and many consumers say they shy away from clean beauty products simply because of their extortionate price. This is where The Ordinary comes in.

It’s no surprise that bloggers, influencers and consumers are going mad for The Ordinary’s products. This brand aims to make skincare accessible. Most of the brand’s products cost less than £20, with some of their serums, creams and solutions costing as little as £5. Each of The Ordinary’s skincare formulations are simple, easy to understand and are free of additives, fillers, fragrances and dyes. Their packaging is minimal and straight-forward and their product labels explain exactly what’s inside them.

Kriisti Atherton comments:

“The Ordinary products are ideal for those who want to get straight to the point when it comes to their skincare. My favourite product from this range is their chia-seed oil, which personally I feel is massively underrated! It helps me with pretty much all of my skincare concerns (and even keeps my hair smooth and shiny!), from breakouts, to fine lines, to split ends. For me it’s magic.

I also really like their products in particular because they’re packed with evidence-based ingredients like retinol, salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid, without the market leading prices people might usually be expected to pay.”

UpCircle Beauty

Founded in 2016 by siblings Anna and William Brightman, UpCircle is a brand that aims to make the most of the hundreds of prime cosmetic ingredients that end up in landfill each year. This affordable organic beauty brand has built themselves a credible reputation for fighting waste by for sourcing and re-using natural ingredients discarded by the food & drinks industries. In their products, you’ll find ingredients like coffee grounds, olive stones, kiwi juice, maple bark and apricot stones.

Health & beauty specialist, Kriisti Atherton commented in a statement:

“UpCircle beauty products hold a special place on my shelf. I’m actually using their body scrub made with tangerine and repurposed coffee grounds and the results have been amazing. The circular economy sits at the foundation of their brand, as they aim to reduce as much waste as possible through upcycling (hence the name UpCircle) and taking advantage of the many perfectly usable ingredients that end up in landfill each year. And to top it off, their products are palm oil free, vegan, cruelty-free, natural and sustainable. Plus, their packaging is 100% recyclable.”

Biossance

In 2003, Biossance patented a life-changing technology that allowed them to create an accessible cure for malaria. Today, the sustainable brand has turned to beauty, developing over 120 million skin-loving treatments, thanks to this technology. The ingredient most commonly found in their products is squalene, an oil Biossance produce entirely from sugarcane (rather than it’s typical source. Yep, you guessed it… shark livers!).

The brand prides themselves on their continued efforts in shark conservation, saving over 2 million of these ocean dwellers lives with their renewable squalene creations. Not only that, but their packaging is fully recyclable and in partnership with CarbonFund.org., they also plant trees and fund large restoration projects offshore each year.

Kriisti Atherton gives her insight:

“What I love about Biossance is their undying commitment to the environment! The company ships carbon neutral, is cruelty-free and has a green lab certification, meaning the brand meets the non-profit’s laboratory standards for energy consumption and usage. The company has also taken it upon themselves to personally ban over 2,000 harmful ingredients (like parabens and phthalates) from their products, further proving their passion for preserving the planet, as well as the safety of their customers.”

Monday Haircare

MONDAY is a dermatologically tested haircare brand that currently has people across the internet raving about its results. Their shampoo and conditioner formulations are free from SLS, parabens and are certified under the Leaping Bunny programme by animal protection and advocacy agency, Cruelty Free. Whilst also being recognised by PETA as a brand that has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to testing on animals.

MacGregor Black’s beauty expert, Kriisti Atherton notes:

“I wanted to include a haircare brand in this round-up because the clean beauty movement isn’t just focusing on skincare or cosmetics, it extends to pretty much any personal care product out there.

With a focus on using natural ingredients, MONDAY is all about making luxury products more affordable for the average person. They don’t believe you should pay more for quality ingredients or fancy packaging, which still looks amazing and is 100% recyclable.”

In short, the Clean Beauty Movement encourages us to challenge the norm and push for what we feel is right. While cutting through the hype and investing your time into finding out which brands are truly ‘clean’ can be difficult, it’s worth remembering that the Clean Beauty Movement began out of a genuine need for transparency and higher-quality ingredients in the products we consume. Thanks to this demand, the industry is evolving, and more brands are tackling problems like the misuse of harmful ingredients, unethical practices, and misleading marketing.

By reframing the focus on the ingredients in our skincare and pushing for cleaner, natural, better-quality products, the Clean Beauty Movement holds the power to re-shape a multi-billion-dollar industry.

If you’d like to speak to our Global Health & Beauty Practice, get in touch today via hello@macgregorblack.com or +44 (0)191 691 1949

Advertising, Consumer, Events, Fashion, Industry, Insight, Retail

Posted on 23 August 2022

The time-honoured tradition of battling it out for a parking spot, brushing past rows of neatly lined linens, grabbing a quick coffee, and heading home with shopping bags bursting at the seams is under threat like never before. With Covid-19 fast-tracking the shift to online, how does in-store retail respond?  

MacGregor Black takes a closer look at what’s in-store for the future of retail, including one of the most popular strategies that brands are rolling out right now, experiential marketing. 

Today’s Retail Landscape? 

If you’re find shopping feeling a little different these days, you’ll be glad to know you aren’t alone. Shops certainly still exist, the gladiatorial parking spot battles still commence, and coffee still powers the weary toward that one final purchase. However, in the last decade we’ve witnessed the bustling world of in-store retail evolve drastically, with many consumers now opting to get their hands on the latest products, without even stepping near a store. 

Where once, to see, try on a product, and own it that day was a market owned entirely by in-store, these days technology has joined the party and is showing no signs of going home. 

From ordering online, to scrolling through Instagram, the internet has opened up a plethora of alternative options for consumers to shop and it’s easy to see why many of us are choosing convenience over physical experience. As our lives get busier and our time more precious, shops naturally become less appealing. Add to this the recent pandemic and the enticing lure of the internet, with its 24-7 convenience becomes harder than ever to resist. Despite this, retail is certainly still alive & kicking, and with the threat of online competition, the natural response is… innovation. 

A whole host of new and creative experiences are being rolled out for shoppers all around the globe with big name brands like Nike, Ralph Lauren and Red Bull offering their customers an in-store experience that goes far beyond the traditional shopping trip.

What Exactly is Experiential Marketing? 

If you’re a film lover, or a regular book worm like myself, then there’s no doubt you’re familiar with the intoxicating feeling of being transported to new and exotic worlds, to experience something completely new. Something exciting and most importantly, unique. 

This is the type of memorable, immersive experience that experiential marketeers hope to create for their audience. An experience that stands-out from the crowd and leaves us wanting more. After all, people want memories, stories, and adventures to share, not just products, and experiential marketing is a perfect way to achieve this.

Also known as ‘engagement marketing’, ‘live marketing’ or ‘participation marketing’, experiential marketing is a strategy that invites an audience to interact with a brand through a real-world, face-to-face event. In short, experiential marketing enables customers to not simply buy from a brand, but to deeply engage with and experience the brand on a personal level. According to Forbes, experiential marketing can bolster a long-lasting and unforgettable relationship between brands and customers, as well as providing brands with a unique range of opportunities to further grow and develop. 

While most experiential campaigns focus on live events such as festivals, retreats, trade shows and conferences; there are no written rules. Many examples take the form of one-off installations or activations, such as product taste testing, giveaways, pop-up experiences, kiosks, and a range of other unique experiences that drive meaningful interactions with customers.

However, not simply limited to in-store, experiential marketing often crosses the borders between the physical and digital world, with many brands incorporating an online presence into their experiential strategy, such as a branded hashtags, micro-sites, and social media campaigns, to raise awareness and encourage eWoM. 

Why Use Experiential Marketing? 

In recent years, one of the common demands that has steadily emerged across the consumer and retail industries is, trust. The more honest, dependable, and trustworthy a brand appears, the more likely it is that consumers will shop there in the future and even recommend the brand to their friends and family. With this in mind, a sure-fire way that retailers can build confidence in their brand and ensure this season’s boots stay on the ground, is with a well-executed and engaging experiential campaign. Providing customers with the opportunity to physically meet with brand reps, try new products in person, and experience unique events, creates a feeling of connection that simply cannot be achieved exclusively through online campaigns. 

Not only is experiential marketing a great way to reinforce a brand’s message and build loyalty with existing customers, but it can also be a fantastic platform for new customer acquisition. Personal interactions can go a long way when it comes to gaining a consumer’s initial buy in, as it opens up the opportunity to really understand a brand, the product, and the people behind it. In fact, according to EventTrack, a hefty 91% of consumers reported that they would be more inclined to purchase a brand’s product or service after participating in a brand activation or experience, and 40% felt they would actually become more loyal to the brand. 

Similar to the intricate world of digital marketing, one of the most important benefits to experiential marketing is the ability to generate leads and gather data on potential new customers. From contact details, to demographics, brands are able to obtain and use this data to fine-tune their strategy and engage with similar people who may also be interested in their brand in the future. And when coupled with an audience that has opted into the experience on offer, the quality, quantity and also reliability of the data collected is likely to be significantly greater. 

Our Top 5 Campaigns

According to HubSpot, experiential marketing now ranks as one of the top five marketing strategies that companies currently leverage, with brands all over the globe beginning to see the benefits of engaging with their customers on a personal level. 

But enough talking, here are our top 5 most interesting experiential campaigns launched to date:

SNCF – ‘Europe is Just Next Door’

In 2012, French rail network, SNCF teamed up with ad agency, TBWA, to put their company on the map, with the launch of their ‘Europe is Just Next Door’ campaign. The railway company created a virtual traveling experience for city goers all over Europe, by placing brightly coloured doors in major EU cities, waiting patiently to be opened by curious passers-by. Behind each door was a real-time event that offered pedestrians the chance to be transported to beautiful cities around the world with just the twist of a handle. It could be a street performer on the bustling banks of the Seine River, an enthusiastic mime surrounded by mesmerised crowds on the streets of Milan, or even a sketch artist eagerly waiting to paint your portrait from a park bench in Brussels. The campaign created a connection not only between the consumer and the location, but also with SNCF, placing it as a company that could turn your dream European trip, into a reality. 

Pepsi’s ‘Pepsi Touch’ Social Vending Machine

Using interactive digital technology, PepsiCo launched a state-of-the-art Social Vending Machine, which transformed the simple metal box, into a vessel for kindness. The impressive system allowed users to gift their friends a pre-paid bottle of Pepsi, from a far-away location. For the user, they simply add in the receipts name, mobile number and a personalised video message, and the receiver of the beverage is sent a system code and instructions to retrieve the drink, free of charge, from a selected machine. The campaign also allowed people to commit random acts of refreshment by purchasing a drink for a stranger or sending “a symbol of encouragement to a city that’s experienced some challenging weather or a congratulatory beverage to a university that just won a championship,” PepsiCo said. 

This is a great example of how experiential marketing opens the doors for brands to gather as much useful data from potential customers as possible.

‘Scoops Ahoy’ – Netflix & Baskin Robbins 

In the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things, 80’s teen, Steve Harrington worked at the fictional ice cream parlour, Scoops Ahoy. In 2019, the well-known streaming platform, Netflix and leading American ice cream specialists, Baskin Robbins teamed up in an epic attempt to bring the on-screen ice cream shop to life. The campaign consisted of a range of different elements that launched steadily across America, including a shop, which remained open for two weeks, a 15 second commercial advertising the famous USS Butterscotch ice cream as seen on the show, an ice cream yacht, and a social media campaign to spread the word. The creative campaign also featured a Scoops Ahoy themed van travelling around the UK, giving out free retro flavoured ice-cream to excited Stranger Things fans in busy cities including, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Exeter, and Dublin. 

The Fortnite Rift Tour

Fornite, one of the biggest gaming franchises in the world and Ariana Grande, Guinness World Record holder for the most songs to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, teamed up to create an out-of-this-world musical experience. The Fortnite Rift Tour, held in the metaverse, was an event that pushed the boundaries of experiential marketing to the max, bringing virtual, hybrid and in-person events all in one place. The partnership saw experiential marketing professionals working with the metaverse to create a new range of immersive, high-tech events. As part of the campaign, Ariana Grande gave her first live performance in two years, exclusively for her fans in the metaverse. The detailed digital setting also allowed the audience to explore the colourful world of Fortnite, with interactive mini-games and challenges available throughout the event. 

Proud and Present by lululemon 

A key theme in many successful experiential campaigns is to eliminate the need to generate direct revenue from it. Instead opting to create a brand experience that your customers will never forget. In 2019, American apparel retailer, lululemon, launched the ‘Proud and Present’ campaign encouraging reflection within the LGBTQ21A+ community. The activation saw the execution of a full social campaign, two in-person experiences, and multiple in-store campaigns. The brand worked with their employees to create intimate, personal photos and videos which discussed topics impacting their community, which were shared on social media and brought to life in an outdoor installation in Hudson River Park in New York City. For two weeks, the brand also hosted LGBTQ21A+ inspired yoga sessions in the park to raise funds to support The Trevor Projects work with the community. 

In conclusion, as customers become increasingly aware of when, where, and how they shop, and the battle for convenience rages on, the in-store experience, now more than ever must stand out from the crowd. And with almost 60% of consumers now expecting retailers to dedicate more floor space to experiences, rather than just products, the future of retail has a clear expectation. Even a whopping 81% of consumer said they were more likely to open their wallets and pay more for products that offered an upgraded their overall shopping experience. 

With that in mind, keep your eyes peeled for the latest in activations and events at your local stores!

If you’d like to speak to our team of Retail Marketing recruitment specialists, get in touch today via 0191 691 1949 or via hello@macgregorblack.com

Consumer, Fashion, Industry, Insight, Interview, Outdoor, Sports, Sustainability

Posted on 27 May 2022

Clothing & apparel, like many other industries, has swung back and forth navigating the intricacies of Covid-19, countrywide lockdowns, and the ever-changing societal habits that have ensued. As the pandemic has irreversibly accelerated the shift to not only digital, but also experiences we have as customers, one such brand has not only successfully navigated the pandemic, but done so building an army of loyal customers with an unwavering commitment to purpose, quality, and most all… building in Britain.

We sat down with Oliver Massy-Birch, Director of clothing brand, Fortis, to talk outdoors, apparel, and what the future holds for the brand flying the flag for British manufacturing.

MacGregor Black: So Oliver, to a newcomer out there, how do you introduce them to Fortis?

Oliver: Well, the first thing people say about us, is that we’re very different.

The idea we have at Fortis is to make something that is going to be a trusted friend for a long, long time. And not only that, but to make it in Britain, with British fabrics. Manufacturing in the UK has been depleted for years as the fashion world is very much, centred around fast fashion. We’re very much going against that.

We want to increase the demand for, what we call slow fashion. And that means making a better product. It’s a bit more expensive, but it is going to last longer, have a repair service, and you know, have all of these things that incorporate something that you’re going to have for years to come.

We think, why can Fortis not lead the way for the fashion world?

Oliver Massy-Birch, director – fortis clothing

MacGregor Black: Going down the ‘slow fashion’ route, is that something that you’ve pursued, where did the decision come from?

Oliver: It came very much from my father, who to begin with, manufactured for the police & military world. Then he moved into the shooting, fishing, and farming markets. So, when I took over, I just saw it as ‘we can do this right across the board.’, it doesn’t just have to be a brand for, you know, the hardcore country types.

It can be the same technology, the same quality, just across fashion markets, but also to lead the way in that actually, you don’t have to change the colour of your jacket every year. You can have it for the next five years, six years, whatever it may be, because it’s quality, and it fits well.

And I’m a big advocate of that. A well-made product does look very nice. So, I will always say something of quality is absolutely on trend. So we aim to cater to that base going forward and fit that demand, if you like.

MacGregor Black: In the last decade we’ve certainly seen a noticeable shift in buying behaviour, where there’s now a greater need for fashion to also be functional for the everyday consumer. Particularly over the last 3-4 years there are luxury brands that have a deep history in producing purpose-built clothing, such as Canada Goose and Moncler, that have incredible success in the Fashion industry, due to positioning in that specific category.

Is this something you can see happening to Fortis in the future?


Oliver: I think the ‘made-to-order’ market we are right now is a very good market… and importantly, it’s a growing market. There are a few things that make it a little, confused if you like. You can have police officers in forces jackets, farmers in forces jackets, and shooting & fishing in them too, as along the way, one item can meet the needs of many. You know, the core ideals of staying dry, comfortable, and ultimately having their needs met are our priority.

So, I don’t see us going down the route of saying we’ll design a piece for this purpose and this market only, and that’s how it will stay.

As long as we meet our functional performance and sustainability promises. I’m happy to move and steer our direction as we see it developing. Whether that be in five years’ time or 20 years’ time.

MacGregor Black: You mentioned earlier that many people describe Fortis as ‘very different’. One of the ‘stand-outs’ for me is your commitment to manufacturing in Britain. Why is it so important to you that this remains at the core of Fortis?
Oliver: For me, I know tomorrow we could pick it up in China and you have make five, six times the profits, maybe more.

But the issue for me with that, is that there’s a principle. And the principle for me is that okay, great, I enjoy what we do and I enjoy making profit that we can reinvest into the company and into the local community. And you want to do exactly that over time. But there’s also something about creating a positive, lasting legacy. One of something that is quite different… and special. Rather than being just another company that manufactures in China.

Thinking ahead, how sustainable really is that for the environment? Fewer miles for our materials and products to travel means reducing our carbon footprint. We’re going to bring it down by manufacturing in Britain, and in the long run it’ll make a big difference.

Ultimately, we’re doing the same processes, but we’re doing them in Britain, and to a better standard. So there is a long term plan.

And I’m an outdoorsman myself, so the environment is the biggest thing for me. So we think, why can Fortis not lead the way for the fashion world?

MacGregor Black: Finally, to round things off, give me the five words that embody Fortis now and to move forward with.

Oliver: Quality, sustainable, trustworthy, and… bloody good!

With Oliver at the helm, Fortis looks to be in good hands, and with a flexible strategy for the future, centred around it’s unwavering core principles of quality, sustainability, and trust, it’s easy to see why they’ve been quick to gain such a loyal following.

If you’d like to talk talent with our specialist team of Sports, Fashion, & Outdoor recruitment consultants, get in touch via hello@www.macgregorblack.com or at 0191 691 1949

Consumer, Events, Food, Hospitality, Industry, Insight, Outdoor

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To many of us, bees are simply seen as striped honey-making machines, that buzz around our gardens during the summer. However, our airborne accomplices actually play a much more important role in maintaining the planet than we may initially think.

Bees are the pollinators of crops, producers of honey, and pioneers in digital advancement, with some engineers even attempting to emulate their impressive swarm intelligence in today’s technology.

In light of ‘World Bee Day’, MacGregor Black dives deeper into the busy life of the beloved bee, exploring their enormous impact on the world around us.

Let the Truth Bee Told…

With the two most well-known species of honeybee and bumblebee often stealing the limelight, it’s easy to overlook the fact that there are actually over 25,000 different types of bees (which just so happens to be the same number of bee-related puns we’ve worked into this article…)! All of which belong to the insect or Super-Family ‘Apoidea’, which also includes Wasps, from which bees are believed to be descended from… but we don’t hold that against them.

The fact is bees contribute to our eco system in many amazing ways. With one of their most important contributions being, pollination. According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, approximately 80% of all flowering plants are pollinated mostly by insects, with birds, bats and bees being ranked as extra important due to their ability to pollinate on such a large scale.

But what makes bees in particular such good mass pollinators? The answer to this question lies in a set of physical features that, in comparison to other animals and insects, gives our fuzzy friends an unexpected edge.

Firstly, they have tiny strands of hair all over their bodies, legs and even eyes, which the plant pollen sticks to and as a result, is shuttled around from flower to flower. These millions of little hairs are extremely important to bees, as they also help with regulating their temperature and detecting vibrations in the atmosphere. Isn’t that the bee’s knees! Secondly, the shape and size of their bodies plays a vital role in pollination, as they’re able to squish inside even the tiniest and most delicate of flowers.

Another factor in the bee’s brilliant ability to mass pollinate is the fact their lives actually depend on it. Honey made from plant pollen and nectar is the main source of protein that bees consume, and they need a strong amount of it in their systems to cope with the rearing of broods and the continued development of their sophisticated colonies.

It’s not just the bee-autiful flowers in our gardens that benefit from bees, many of our favourite fruits and vegetables like, broccoli, asparagus, cucumber, and strawberries, also rely on the pollination of bees, and since cultivated plants like these are an extremely important income to farmers, some are even partnering with beekeepers for support with targeted crop pollination. In fact, about one third of everything we eat globally has been pollinated by bees or other animals, and it’s even been recorded that some bees have been seen to travel a whopping 5-6 miles a day in the process! It’s also interesting to note that, in recent years, with more and more people are opting for a plant-based diet, what we eat being pollinated mainly by bees begins to hold a lot more significance.

These hard-working furry invertebrates have been around for millions of years, not only leading the way in the pollination of flowers, fruit, and vegetables, but also producing the delicious golden delicacy that we all know and love, honey.

“Honey, I’m home!”

As you read this, billions of bees all around the world are busy gathering precious nectar, flying it back to their colonies, and turning it into sweet, sticky honey to see them through the winter. But how does this popular sugary treat make it from their hives to our homes?

Once the flower nectar is gathered, it’s broken down into simple sugars and stored carefully inside the honeycomb. The design and shape of the honeycomb, accompanied by the constant fanning of tiny bees’ wings, causes evaporation inside the hive, resulting in the thick gooey liquid delight that is honey. Luckily for us, bees usually produce more honey than necessary for their hive, meaning beekeepers can harvest and bottle it without impacting the colonies overall food supply. It’s said that on average, a hive will produce a whopping 55 pounds of surplus honey each year!

When ready, beekeepers will harvest the honey by collecting the honeycomb frames, removing the protective wax cap that bees make to seal off the honey, and placing the frames into an extractor. The extractor then rapidly spins the honeycomb, forcing out all the honey in the process. After it’s extracted, the honey is strained to remove any remaining wax or particles.

After straining, it’s then time for the honey to be bottled, labelled, placed on shop shelves, and spread straight across our morning slice of toast. If the honey is pure, not one single additional ingredient is added from bee, to hive, to bottle. It’s also fascinating to note that the taste and look of honey all depends on the type of nectar the bees are collecting. For example, honey made from orange blossom nectar has a zesty kick and can even be lighter in colour, whereas honey from avocado or wildflower nectar can have a darker, more amber colouring to it.

To Bee or Not to Bee?

Beekeeping by nature, surprisingly, doesn’t need a huge investment, large amounts of land or even a complicated technical knowledge. Yet like most other livestock sectors, beekeeping still comes with its fair share of challenges.

One of the largest threats to the beekeeping industry is unfortunately, species decline. When researchers analysed bee records collated by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility from museums, universities, and citizen scientists, they found that there’s been a steep decline in bee species recorded since 1990. In fact, there were approximately 25% fewer species reported between 2006 and 2015 than before the 1990’s. Beekeepers also face a range of other constraints that can contribute to species decline, such as bee pests and predators, the misuse of pesticides and herbicides, bee diseases, colony absconding and a shortage of resources.

However, despite the many challenges that beekeepers have to overcome, the honey industry is currently buzzing. Research from a study conducted by the University of California Agriculture found that in the US alone, the honey industry is responsible for over 22,000 jobs and in 2020, the global honey market was estimated to be valued at just over $8 billion US dollars, which is expected to rise to over $10 billion US dollars by 2026.

Beauty is in the eye of the Bee-holder

Cleopatra, a woman highly renowned for her mesmerising beauty, was known to regularly bathe in milk and honey, helping her maintain her youthful glow. Throughout history, ancient Greek women lathered their faces in honey and olive oil to keep their skin looking as radiant as the infamous Helen of Troy. Queen Elizabeth the 1st, a beauty icon to Elizabethan women, used honey, lemon juice and rosewater as an effective remedy for spots and blemishes. As far back as the days of Tudor England, mythical Greece, and even ancient Egypt, the beauty enhancing qualities of honey have been documented and well utilised by some of history’s most famous faces.

Although we’re far from the days of bathing in milk and honey, today, honey can still be found in most of our much-loved modern-day cosmetics. According to a study conducted by Mintel, a huge 75% of us are likely to use cosmetics containing honey in our every-day lives. From glossy hair conditioners to silky face creams, this natural ingredient has remained a firm fan favourite throughout the decades.

To some, such uses of honey may be surprising, however it’s remained so popular in the cosmetics and healthcare industries because honey and its extracts, like royal jelly, are high in antioxidants and nutrients. Some honey variants, like Manuka honey, have even been proven to contain high levels of antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties.

To learn more about the mystical range of qualities possessed by Manuka honey, MacGregor Black sat down with Darren Robinson, Commercial Director at Steens Honey, New Zealand’s leading producer of high-grade, raw, unpasteurised Manuka honey.

“What can you tell us about Steens?”

Steens was started by Paul and Sheryl Steens because they wanted to pursue their passion for bringing a better-quality Manuka honey to the market. Both Paul and Sheryl have been beekeeping for over 34 years, so they know a thing or two about honey, and Steens itself currently manages over 10,000 hives across some of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.

To sum it up, what we do is produce and sell some of the finest raw and unpasteurised Manuka honey, straight from New Zealand.

“What makes Manuka honey so special?”

Manuka honey is truly a unique product and one of the most incredible things that nature provides. It’s made from bees who have fed only from the Manuka bush, which is unique to New Zealand’s rich native forests and is the vital ingredient in taking honey from a natural sweetener, to so much more. The Manuka plant only flowers for six days a year at the height of summer and it takes 12 bees to make a single teaspoon of honey in their lifetime, so it’s all hands-on deck as soon as the plant is ready. We have land teams on standby that notify us when the plant flowers, and we move in as quickly as possible to harvest the pure Manuka honey, sometimes even using a helicopter for efficiency.

We position our hives in some of the most remote parts of New Zealand to make sure the honey isn’t congested with any other type of flower nectar, and to also support the natural economy of the area. When it’s harvesting time, we’ll leave enough honey in the hives, or replace it with a different honey to keep the bees happy and healthy.

“How do you determine that your Manuka Honey is actually Manuka Honey?”

Good quality Manuka honey isn’t just made in New Zealand, it’s also tested there before it leaves the country to confirm its genuine and pure quality Manuka honey. When testing, what we’re looking for is the presence of key signature markers like MGO, Leptosperin and NPA, which are only found in high-quality Manuka honey from New Zealand. All of the Manuka honey made by Steens is UMF Certified, meaning it’s been through the complete advanced testing procedure, and each one of our jars can actually be traced with a code to ensure its authenticity.

“Is it true that Manuka honey has ‘magical’ qualities?”

Well, yes. You could say that!

Manuka honey is probably most renowned for its wound-healing capabilities. Similar to Savlon, it’s been approved in children’s hospitals because of its anti-septic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. It also holds special value to me because I use it to combat the symptoms of my diverticulosis. Which is one of the reasons why I’m so passionate about working with Steens. I can truly say our product is out in the world, making a difference.

Well, there you have it!

Beyond its sweet, sticky deliciousness, honey has a whole host of beneficial properties, and as more and more people play closer attention to the ingredients in their products, the demand for this natural resource is only set to rise.

All of which can be accredited to one very small, but mighty friend of ours… the bee.

If you’d like to talk talent with our team of industry experts, or take the next step in your career, get in touch via hello@www.macgregorblack.com or via +44(0)191 691 1949

If you’re interested in trying some of Steen’s award-winning Manuka Honey, in celebration of World Bee Day, they’re offering a 50% off sale on their website for today only!

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Once dubbed, ‘the juice of the gods’ and given its own official deity, wine has been a well-enjoyed beverage for thousands of years. From the range of alcoholic drinks in circulation today, arguably none have impacted society in quite the same way. The history books show that this much-cherished drink has bridged the gap between ancient cultures, opened up channels for philosophical ideas to spread across Europe and even played a key role in the evolution of worship.

And so… in celebration of Wine Day 2022, MacGregor Black explores the rich history of wine. From how it’s produced, to the popular variations we know today, and how they could be changing for modern wine-lovers all over the world.

Where Does Wine Come From?

Unfortunately, no one can be 100% certain about the exact origins of wine. As with any new innovation, as it journeyed across cities, countries and continents, the birthplace slowly became more story than substance. Fast forward to today and there equally as many new theories as old as to where this beloved beverage began its journey.

If we were to turn to Greek mythology, it’s said that Dionysus, the son of Zeus and ‘God of Wine’, invented wine whilst living among ancient mythological creatures called Nymphs. As much as we’d like to close the age-old case of ‘who did it first’, it’s likely that grape culture, or viticulture, outdates Greek civilisation itself.

If we turn to archaeology, recent discoveries suggest that the earliest known ancient wine production evidence dates between 6,000 BC and 4,000 BC during the Neolithic era, with winery sites, grape residue or clay jars being discovered in Georgia, Iran, and Egypt. However, some researchers argue that the earliest evidence of a non-grape-based drink, often compared to wine, was found in ancient China as far back as 7000 BC and was made from fermented rice, honey, and fruit.

Many people believe that wine is central to civilisation as we know it in the west. We use it as a medicine, a means of celebration, a social lubricant, a religious symbol, and last but certainly not least, to unwind after a long day at work. Whilst we can’t say exactly where it originated, we do know that we have sea-fairing civilisations such as the ancient Phoenicians to thank for spreading wine throughout much of the Mediterranean, along with olive oil, the alphabet and glass! The Phoenicians shared their understanding of viticulture and winemaking to several world-renowned wine-producing nations such as, Spain, France, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, Italy, and Portugal to name a few. Not only that, but the Phoenicians also had a direct influence on the expanding winemaking cultures of the ancient Greeks and Romans, which would later spread their understanding of viticulture across the rest of Europe.

Although we can’t say with certainty where wine began, one thing we can be certain of is that we all owe our well-deserved appreciation for wine to one single plant. The grape vine.

As there are many different variations of wine, you’ve probably guessed that there are also many different variations of grape. In fact, there are over 10,000 different species in existence today, with the majority of the world’s wine stemming from just one. Vitis Vinifera Sylvestris. Over the course of its ancient existence, and as early humans spread the desire for high-quality wine to varied climates across the globe, the Vitis Vinifera Sylvestris grape vine mutated and evolved to adapt to small variations in its new home. All culminating in the rich variety of grapes we know today, and hence why we’re lucky to have so many different delicious wines! Unfortunately, in more recent years, such high demand for particular wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, has led to a decrease in the world’s natural grape diversity. As many regions join the race to produce in line with demand, many vineyards have begun digging out their niche, native vines in favour of more mainstream varieties.

How Was Ancient Wine Made?

Whether it be a thousand years ago or this very evening to celebrate US National Wine Day, the process of turning grapes into wine is as impressive as ever. With modern-day technology playing its part in providing us with a smoother and safer drinking experience.

For ancient cultures to produce wine, workers would spend long, exhausting hours harvesting ripened grapes. Followed by pouring them into a large open top vat, with some opting to leave the grapes to dry in the sun beforehand in order to concentrate their flavour. Then comes the part many of us have seen and heard about. They would use their bare feet to repeatedly crush the grapes, producing enough pressure to both release tannins throughout the wine and break the skin encasing the grape. Yet, just enough pressure to preserve the seed inside, as breaking this would leave the wine tasting bitter.

After hitting their step count for the day, the liquid was then left to settle for a period of time while native yeasts converted the sugars in the grapes into alcohol, leading to the fermentation process, with some cultures then adding a variety of spices to sweeten the taste. Over the ages, many civilisations have fine-tuned their methods. The ancient Greeks invented a winepress to crush the grapes, followed by the Romans later using barrels and other techniques that helped them produce greater volumes at a quicker pace and lower cost.

With a limited drinks on the menu at the time, often including fruit juice, goats’ milk, or stagnant water, it should come as no surprise that some ancient cultures even chose to sweeten their foul-tasting water with wine. In fact, wine provided not only flavour but a safer and more sanitary drinking option for many. Although even our ancestors had to learn to pace themselves, with excess consumption leading to… well you know the rest. And so, it was common to also add water to wine thus avoiding over intoxication. So much so, that in some cultures drinking undiluted wine was considered scandalous and some Jewish Rabbis would even refuse to bless ceremonial wine if it hadn’t been first mixed with water.

Wine & Religion

Throughout time, wine has played an integral role in the course of human history as we know it, with religion being no exception. Where some religions, such as Islam, forbid the drinking of alcohol, others like Christianity and Judaism have been known to use wine as a ceremonial symbol. In fact, the Christian church may well be the ones to thank for improving the tase of ancient wine, as it’s recorded that around the sixth century, priests, monks and nuns cultivated vineyards in areas that weren’t as familiar with every-day wine drinking, which largely increased production and ultimately improved wine knowledge.  

From the Old World to the New

Following its unrivalled popularity, grape culture and winemaking was quickly transported from the Old World to the New and unsurprisingly many different cultures have since attempted to perfect the process.

Fast forward to today and you’ll be pleased to learn that the wine we drink now differs largely from the wine shared amongst our ancestors. For example, in comparison to today, ancient wines certainly packed a little extra punch. Converting them into today’s metrics, they were likely as high as 15% or even 20% ABV. Hence the rather wise desire to water them down. However, the most notable difference between ancient and modern-day wines are the preservation efforts. The modern bottles we use today help in protecting and preserving the quality of wine for many years to come, whereas many ancient wines we’re quickly spoiled by regular exposure to Oxygen. Thus, forcing Vintners to preserve them with resin, which unfortunately often compromised the wine inside, making it thick and sticky.  

Now they say not to judge a book by its cover, but in the case of wine, there’s a lot to be said for the bottle labels…

When ancient Egyptians dominated the wine trade, even sending King Tutankhamen to the afterlife with over 26 bottles of the stuff! an issue began to arise around how to determine a bottle of wine’s origin. And so, the wine label was born. Appearing to date back as far as 1550 BC, or maybe even further, seals and etchings were placed on bottles as a way to simplify trade, but also to signify the date, type, and quality of wine.

By the 18th century, the wine trade was booming, and etched labels had become a thing of the past, replaced with bottle labels that were printed on parchment and tied to bottlenecks with string, much like the hanging tags we sometimes still see today. Fast forward to 1798 and thanks to the invention of the lithograph, bottle labels could now be printed in mass. This in turn brought with it new innovations in in design bringing bright colours and an emphasis on artistic design to the forefront. Today, this same practice has reached far and wide from the simple wine bottle, now extending to print media as we know it.


In the 20th century, far from the days of clay jars and oak barrels, an Australian winemaker called Thomas Angove filed a patent in 1965 for what would later be known as bag-in-box-wine. The design was actually based off a very similar product already on the market, which was a bag in a box used by mechanics to transfer battery acid. With Angove’s new design, consumers were required to cut the corner of the bag, pour out the wine and seal it with a special peg. In 2010, the Scandinavian state institutions, Systembolaget and Vinmonopolet analysed the environmental impact of various wines, finding that bag-in-box packaging generated up to 90% less carbon than bottled wine. Not to mention the fact that, since the wine is removed from the flexible bag without adding much air to fill the remining space, it greatly reduces oxidation, ultimately keeping your wine fresh for longer!

It’s clear to see why the method is very much being carried on today by companies like Laylo, manufacturers of Premium boxed Wines.

Co-Founder of Laylo, Laura Riches, commented:

“The reason we chose to box our wine, rather than bottle it, comes down to three factors. One, the wine stays fresher for longer, and as I’m a personal fan of the odd glass of wine whilst cooking, it meant that I could open a box and keep it for up to 6 weeks after. Secondly, sustainability. As you’ve mentioned, boxed wine generates up to 90% less carbon and our product can actually be 100% recycled through our ‘return by post’ scheme. Lastly, here at Laylo we love telling stories and people love to know more about the history of the wine they’re drinking, and since there’s 6 faces on the box, that gives us plenty of freedom to do that.”

We asked Laura, how is it that boxed wine generates less carbon than bottled wine?

“When making wine bottles, there’s actually a huge amount of energy that goes into that process, not to mention the amount of energy it takes to transport wine bottles. If you were to weigh a bottle of wine, the bottle itself actually accounts for a large portion of that quantity and their awkward shape often means they’re packed using lots of plastic to keep them safe during transport. At Laylo, we actually ship our product to the UK in large containers, then package it from there to reduce the amount of transport required, ultimately reducing emissions.”

Whether you’re a history buff, a wine connoisseur, or just brushing up ahead of your next vineyard visit, knowing how various cultures have produced and used wine since it began will without doubt enhance your appreciation for the brilliant beverage. From the first flowering grape vine to the beautiful boxes by Laylo, wine is far more than just fermented grapes, it’s a journey through history that you can savour with every sip.

If you would like to speak with our specialist team of Drinks experts, call us on 0191 691 1949 or email us at hello@www.macgregorblack.com