Chilly’s: saving the world one bottle at a time

The world of plastic is under threat.

Bottles, straws, even cotton buds are the devil in plain sight that we must purge from our societies (if the recent media hype is to be believed). But whilst it’s undeniably good that as a society we should reflect on how much plastic we consume…are we so apathetic to the plight of the environment that only top-down taxes and bans will provoke any kind of reaction?

It would seem at first glance, yes. Shifting consumer behaviour is tough. Taxation seems to work better than just asking nicely, if such examples as the 5p plastic bag tax dropping consumption of single use plastic bags by 85% is anything to go by.

But what if there was another way? What if you flipped the challenge and made recycling cool, even desirable?

Enter Chilly’s; the fashionable water bottle brand that has seemingly landed on office desks across the country overnight.

Founded by two entrepreneurs, James Butterfield and Tim Bouscarle, who tired of the Shoreditch digital marketing rat race, Chilly’s offer a range of slick-looking metallic water bottles that use “double wall vacuum insulation” technology to keep water cool for up to 24 hours and hot drinks warm for 12. They see design as key to their success: “our goal is to make products people love so much they don’t want to use single use stuff anymore” said Mr Butterfield.

Chilly’s have made water bottles desirable, not just functional. They look great, and they work well. You’re more likely to have your Chilly’s bottle with you and want to fill it up, rather than the manky old plastic one you accidently warped out of shape during a dishwasher hot wash.

Pret A Manger, the premium sandwich chain not known to miss a trick when it comes to sustainability, have spotted an opportunity to reinforce their environmental credentials and collaborate with the start-up. In an effort to reduce the amount of single-use plastic they use in stores, Pret have launched with Chilly’s its own range of water bottles, designed in keeping with Pret’s iconic food imagery, for £25 a pop.

All this leads me to a sustainability question for brands: if you want to get consumers to change their behaviour for the better, sometimes the carrot is better than the stick. Who would have thought a thermos flask might well become the darling of the sustainability world?

Original blog posted on The Value Engineers’ blog here.

Zero Star Rating from TFL: What’s Next for Uber?

At The Value Engineers we like to think about Shockwaves; imaginary, yet plausible future scenarios that would have dramatic implications for businesses. This challenges brands to think critically about their current strategy and direction. The most destructive Shockwaves tend to be the ones that prevent a brand from doing business at all. But of course that rarely happens in real life.
It seems though, that sometimes life can throw up shockwaves of its own…

A few weeks ago Uber’s application for a new licence to operate in London has been rejected on the basis that the company is not “a fit and proper” operator. This means that, after a 21 day period, Uber could in theory not be allowed to operate in London at all. Specific details on this are currently unclear, although it seems their supposedly relaxed approach to passenger safety and driver vetting may be driving the decision by TFL.

It will be interesting to see how this story will evolve:

Will consumers revolt, and urge Uber to challenge the ruling as they shudder at the prospect of travelling only via the Night Tube, buses and regular black cabs?
Will new competitors sense the opportunity to move in and disrupt the world’s biggest disruptor with a better (and regulatory sound) product? Could Lyft seize this opportunity to enter the UK market with a more ethical approach?

What impact will this have on the Uber brand, already on the ropes following several internal crises?

Regardless, with Uber integrated into the lives of so many Londoners, the question on everyone’s mind must surely be this: what on earth are we all going to do that first Saturday night without Uber?

Answer: probably get the bus.

Originally posted on The Value Engineers’ blog.

Imagining the Restaurant of the Future

A day spent musing on leading edge thinking at the Food and Drink Trends & Innovations Conference 2017 sparked many a thought about the future direction of this exciting and dynamic industry. One topic in particular (aside from of course the great presentation on innovation shared by Paul Gaskell and Steve Reeves) really got me thinking.

Listening to a discussion on restaurant trends, led by Anna Fenten from Levy Restaurants UK, I reflected on the following:

How different would a restaurant started in five years’ time look compared to now?

A focus on reducing food waste: Young Danish upstart Too Good To Go have recently launched in the UK. Their app connects restaurants who have surplus food at the end of service with customers wanting great food at a discount. It’s an excellent example of a business delivering a triple win; it gives restaurants a boost to their bottom line, it reduces food wastage, and is good for the end consumer who get a cheaper meal.

Further embracing of the takeaway customer: Deliveroo, Ubereats and JustEat have redefined the takeaway and enable consumers to enjoy restaurant quality food at home. Innovation in this industry is just getting started. Deliveroo have recently launched Deliveroo Editions last month, a series of “dark” kitchens for casual dining brands to rent and use solely for their takeaway customers. This allows restaurants to optimising their food for takeaway and take pressure off their own kitchens.

Greater use of technology to attract customers: Smart Home services like Google’s Echo and Amazon’s Alexa may soon be able to respond sensitively to the question “where shall we go for dinner?” by overlaying customer cuisine preferences, propensity to travel for food, and cross-reference with table availability (or takeaway delivery wait times). Surely this is more intuitive than panic Googling? The development of Facebook Messenger bot apps also enable restaurants to engage customers through new channels at just the right moment to entice them in.

A slicker in-restaurant experience: Eating out will mostly likely always need a human element, but soon many elements of service could become automated. Apps like CAKE and Qkr make paying the bill less of a pain, and brands like McDonald’s and Applebee’s are embracing self-service kiosks and iPads for great efficiency when ordering. Who knows, maybe your food will be delivered to your table by drone?

More flexible restaurant spaces: The rise of the pop-up restaurant allows for restaurateurs to trial new concepts more flexibly and at lower upfront cost. In fact, why shell out for a restaurant at all when you could host your restaurant in an inspiring space for a few months at a time before packing up and moving on? It helps make the high street more vibrant, allows for chefs to test more experimental ideas, as well as give established restaurant brands the opportunity to test their vision in new areas without investing too much first.

One thing is for sure. Disruption in the restaurant business is just getting started.

Originally published on The Value Engineers’ blog.



Along with my colleagues at The Value Engineers we have put together a list of 15 Food and Drink Trends we think will happen in 2015! Over the next few days I will be publishing three blog posts describing all these trends, from the realistic to the outlandish! Do you think we have got it right? Are there any we have missed? Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section! And so for our second instalment…

6. Gluten Free Sandwiches

Gluten Free has enjoyed considerable growth as a category, fuelled by rising allergen and free-from trends. The logical next step is for gluten-free products which put content claims front and centre to give way to new brands contesting for market share and shelf space within this category. We expect 2015 to be a good year for new brands launching into the gluten free space with something more than “gluten free” as a reason to believe.


7. Coconut Oil Cooking

Coconut water has enjoyed enormous success in both UK and US markets in recent years, and it now looks like coconut oil will be riding that wave. Already popular among an early adopting crowd for its concentration of fatty acids and perceived health benefits it is replacing ordinary cooking oils in a number of households.


8. Go Matcha

Matcha is Green Tea in powder form, already found in soba noodles, green tea flavoured ice creams and other oriental products. We’re keeping our eyes on the taste pioneers who are finding interesting new ways to use matcha in various dishes – cold tea beverages have already made their way into the market, but there is potential to extend into desserts, hot drinks, breakfast occasions and more.


9. Say Cheers with Ginger Beer!

With adult soft drinks growing considerably, and the war on sugar looming over the category at large, expect interesting developments over the next year. A noted favourite on the street food scene, and making a comeback via gastropubs we think 2015 could be the year to crack open a ginger beer.


10. Drink your veg!

Although this trend was previously a non-starter, 2015 looks set to be its year. In response to concerns around the level of sugar in drinks, drinks brands will look to vegetables to offer exciting flavour innovations. Fresh tasting, healthy and vibrant, vegetables look set to be the new darling of the drinks world. Innocent have already released fruit and veg fresh pressed juice, but expect other brands to follow suit.


For part 1 of our Food and Drink trends for 2015 click here.

For part 3 of our Food and Drink trends for 2015 click here.