Love them or hate them Brussels sprouts are a ubiquitous part of Christmas dinner. It is thus worrying news that wet weather this year has reportedly caused a shortage of UK-grown sprouts. Fortunately, there are various festive products on the market, dedicated to giving a twist to the controversial vegetable. We selected ten unique offerings and tested consumers’ propensity to buy them using two multi-option steers, which gave us the following results:
The top scorer is a non-edible set of six Christmas crackers, containing cooking-related souvenirs, which suggests that many people might prefer the idea of Brussels sprouts to the actual taste.
However, we were keen to test the vegetable’s potential during the festive season in food and drink in particular, so the rest of our selection was made up of various food and drink items.
Starting from the bottom, the most disliked product is the Brussels sprouts tea by Sainsbury’s, which left “tea-lovers horrified” last year, when it was launched for Christmas along with a Pigs in Blankets tea variety.
The Brussels sprout ketchup, a brand-new condiment by Sauce Shop, containing about 15 British Brussels sprouts for a 255g bottle, performed only slightly better. Claimed to be a first in the world, it will be sold by Amazon from the beginning of December and might potentially interest the more experimentally minded.
Similarly ranked, with only about a third of consumers likely to buy it, is the Brussels sprout gin, a new offering by Pickering’s. The gin has been distilled using Brussels sprouts sourced from a farm in Scotland, which, together with the distinctive colour and novelty element, makes it a unique but very niche product.
Moving up to slightly more widely accepted options, we come to the Brussels sprout smoothie by M&S, which gained almost 36% of votes. It was launched for Christmas five years ago, marketed as “two of your five a day.” The sprout flavour here is toned-down with apple and pear juice, making up a combination that has given it some longevity on M&S shelves in the festive season.
With almost 39% of votes, the Brussels sprout dust for roasts is a new product, marketed as “perfect for pimping up the well renowned boring sprouts for your traditional Sunday Roasts”. This is an attractive yet niche product, which would mainly be bought for gifting.
Having scored more than 40% of votes each, the remaining three food items could potentially gain mass market appeal. The Marmite sprouts is a frozen product, launched last year by Iceland, produced by Unilever in “an effort to rekindle the UK’s love of sprouts”. Interestingly, this was Marmite’s first frozen licensed launch, part of the brand’s wider effort to liven up its market presence and create a talking point throughout the festive season.
The vegan chocolate truffle sprouts don’t have real sprouts inside but are instead marketed as a “fun gift for friends and family who usually avoid the sprouts during Christmas dinner” by manufacturer Vegan Chocolatier.
Finally, we arrive at the top food and drink option, which does feature a Brussel sprout flavour – Walkers Brussel sprout crisps, having gained more than 53% of votes. Turning the festive feast staple into a snack has worked well for Walkers. It was launched last year as part of a festive range, also including turkey and stuffing, pigs in blankets, glazed ham and cheese and cranberry varieties. This season, the sprout crisps returned after Walkers had received requests from fans “desperately searching for them outside of the festive season”.
This year Walkers built on the initial success by creating two different Christmas dinner-themed multi-packs “to suit all tastes” – Sprout Lovers and Sprout Haters. The former contains Brussels sprout, turkey and stuffing, and pigs in blankets flavours, and the latter – turkey and stuffing, glazed ham, and cheese and cranberry.
We ran a simple choice steer to check whether the lovers’ or haters’ pack is more likely to fly off the shelves and obtained the following results:
While the sprout-free mix prevailed, it was interesting to see that Sprout Lovers gained 31% of preferences, which is a serious success for a more unusual product. We also noticed regional differences in these preferences, with Scotland and Northern Ireland consumers actually preferring the Lovers pack to the Haters.
Brands should not scare off bold innovation as it often presents marketing opportunities, especially around festivities. However, to make sure they have the formula right, they should base it on consumer feedback, which Vypr can help them with.