Top 50 Scottish brands 2019: Thriving amid uncertainty

Brexit may pose challenges for Scotland’s food and drink

Lesley Ann’s overview

smaller-lesley-ann-of-kantar-headshotLESLEY Ann Gray, strategic lead for Scotland at market research company Kantar – which provides the listing of the top 50 Scottish non-alcohol brands in Scotland and the top 25 Scottish alcohol brands in Scotland – analyses the year for the leading Scottish brands in Scottish food and drink retailing.

2019 was yet another year dominated by Brexit. The frustration of the industry is palpable as one year on, we are in the same position and facing the same uncertainty as last year.

However, this hasn’t impacted our top 50 take-home grocery brands, which continue to win over the hearts and wallets of shoppers.

There hasn’t been any change to the brands occupying the top five, with Scottish icons Irn-Bru, Graham’s The Family Dairy, Malcolm Allan, McIntosh and Bells all repeating their podium finish.

A quick look at the product offering of the top brands in Scotland suggests our nation’s favourite meal would be a pie, pastry or lorne sausage washed down with a glass of Irn Bru or milk – one I am sure we have all enjoyed at some point.

Whilst the majority of brands in the top 50 have appeared before, Brownings, Stoats and Lightbody make their debut in this year’s top 50 at positions 42, 46 and 49 respectively.

There’s otherwise little change in the ranking compared with last year’s list, which belies just how challenging it has been in the last 12 months to maintain momentum.

Our theme at Kantar this year has been Disrupting the Future, and 2019 was certainly a year which delivered disruption for the market.

The ramifications of this are clear. The big four retailers struggled to live up to the successes of 2018 this year, and for the first time since 2016, there were periods where none were in growth.

Sainsbury’s saw the biggest drop off in market share in Scotland, followed by Asda, with Tesco and Morrisons only marginally increasing their shares. It’s a different picture for the discounters, with store expansion once again seeing them set the pace with the fastest growth of any of the retailers. 

In Scotland Aldi has seen the biggest increase in market share from 6.7% to 8.2%, closely followed by Lidl at 7.5% share. This means that when combined, they have a bigger share of the market in Scotland than Morrisons.

There’s also good news for independent stores, which increased their share for the second year giving them a market share in Scotland of 3%. 

Another disruptor has been the Great British weather. With the market struggling in comparison to a very sunny summer 2018, it’s clear that the weather can both disrupt our shopping habits and generate opportunities for certain categories.

This year we have had 200 fewer hours of sunshine and that has a big impact. For every one degree mean increase in temperature, as a nation we head out to the shops 3.5 million more times over a four-week period.

This generates opportunities for the out-of-home sector and categories such as cold drinks, alcohol and ice cream.

More relevant perhaps for the Scottish climate is that for every rainy day, shoppers in Scotland make 3.5 million fewer shopping trips over a four-week period – with ramifications for how we shop and what we choose to buy.

Looking towards 2020 we expect to see consumer confidence dip, and for this to have an impact on shoppers’ behaviour.

Already we are seeing signs which are reminiscent of the 2008-9 recession, as shoppers look to manage their grocery spend. 

The two most common coping mechanisms to manage tightening household budgets are to switch to cheaper stores and to choose cheaper products.

This will likely further propel sales of private label lines, as shoppers look to these to manage their spend, and represents a dilemma for manufacturers who may be considering this as a vehicle for growth.

Brands are worth £5.5bn in Scotland (including alcohol) and Scottish shoppers show greater brand loyalty than in the rest of Britain.

In Scotland, private label lines are flat, while brands continue to grow. In Britain overall, more than half of grocery spend is on private label products, whereas in Scotland it is brands that have majority share of spend – for now.

The volume of items sold on promotion has also continued to decrease for the fifth year in a row, with approximately one third of all products purchased now sold on deal.

That said, some categories, especially discretionary or treat items like confectionary and biscuits see higher rates of promoted spend.

As a nation we may not be getting any healthier, but health is still an important factor in consumers’ choices. 

The number of food servings chosen for health reasons has increased by 10% since 2015, which equates to an extra seven billion servings.

This presents an opportunity for brands who are able to position their portfolios to meet this need, which extends beyond the classic New Year resolutions into consumers’ choices year-round.

Brands who can take advantage of these disruptions and can tap into the opportunities that follow them will be best placed to feature in our top brands list for 2020.

Top 50 Scottish take-home food and drink brands in Scotland – excluding alcohol

  Brand Rank 2019 Rank 2018 Moving up
1 Irn-Bru 1 1  
2 Graham’s the Family Dairy 2 2  
3 Malcolm Allan 3 3  
4 Bells Pies and Pastry 4 5
5 McIntosh 5 4  
6 Tunnock’s 6 7
7 Baxters 7 6  
8 Barr 8 11
9 Mackie’s 9 21
10 Seriously 10 8  
11 Simon Howie 11 9  
12 Scotty Brand 12 12  
13 Hall’s 13 10  
14 JG Ross 14 17
15 Galloway 15 16
16 Highland Spring 16 13  
17 Albert Bartlett 17 14  
18 Scottish Blend 18 19
19 Müller (formerly Wiseman) 19 18  
20 Border 20 20  
21 Rowan Glen 21 15  
22 Nairn’s 22 24
23 Macb 23 23  
24 Mothers Pride 24 22  
25 We Hae Meat 25 25  
26 Genius 26 28
27 Scott’s Porridge Oats 27 34
28 Paterson’s 28 29
29 Marshalls   29 26  
30 Tarbert Fine Foods 30 31
31 Lawsons 31 32  
32 Mackays  32 27  
33 Buchanan’s 33 37
34 Calder Millerfield 34 35
35 Mrs Tilly’s 35 33  
36 Highland Game 36 40
37 Big and Scottish 37 38
38 Glenrath 38 39
39 Macsween 39 44
40 Orkney 40 41
41 Mrs Unis 41 36  
42 Brownings 42 NE
43 Scottish Favourites 43 46
44 Dean’s 44 43  
45 Hamlyns 45 42  
46 Stoats 46 NE
47 Scottish Slimmers 47 47  
48 Stockan’s 48 50
49 Lightbody 49 NE
50 Lees  50 45