The BBC Good Food Show Winter took place at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham in November. The event showcased the best of food and drink, attracting a wide range of exhibitors and visitors. The strategic goals and priorities of the event have evolved over time to meet the changing needs and expectations of attendees. The show fits with the overall strategy of the BBC Good Food brand, which aims to inspire and educate people about food and cooking. The show provides a physical extension of the brand’s online and print content, allowing visitors to experience Good Food in a tangible way.
Launching in 1990, the BBC Good Food Show provided a platform for food and drink brands to showcase their products and connect with potential customers, with many larger brands and manufacturers attending the show to sample their products, as there weren’t many other ways to engage with consumers to encourage them to taste and try different products. When it launched, the show also offered a unique stage for people to personally connect with their favourite chefs, who were predominately on TV, in large scale theatres with live cooking demonstrations, predating the emergence of social media. Visitors were also able to meet their heroes and hear inside tips and tricks in Q&As. This allowed attendees to establish a genuine rapport and gain insights into the culinary world in a way that was not yet possible through online platforms.
To keep the event dynamic and engaging, the BBC Good Food Show Winter has incorporated new talent, including culinary experts from various backgrounds. The Big Kitchen, the 1000 seat cooking demonstration theatre, and Let’s Talk Good Food interview stage are still a big part of the show – although with advancements in technology, the interviews are now recorded for our visitors and wider audience to enjoy, including on the BBC Good Food Podcast. Visitors can also now see and meet food talent from lots of different areas, going beyond mainstream TV personalities and embracing a diverse range of talent, many of whom are featured across the wider BBC Good Food brand. Social media has played a pivotal role in this, enabling new culinary experts to launch their careers, breaking down traditional barriers to entry, with Instagram, YouTube and TikTok providing aspiring chefs and food enthusiasts with accessible channels to showcase their culinary skills and share recipes. At the BBC Good Food Show Winter, there were three stages, with new up and coming talent featured including Sam Way, Becky Excell and Original Flava, alongside well known, household names including James Martin, Nadiya Hussain and Michel Roux.
As well as bringing new talent to the show, there has also been an increase in interactive food and drink experiences at the BBC Good Food Show Winter, as consumers look to be more hands-on, and want to actively participate in workshops and tastings. This is closely linked to the BBC Good Food brand, where there is a lot of content across the website and app, allowing consumers to get involved in online workshops and learn new skills. At the shows, visitors can learn new techniques, discover unique ingredients, and gain insights from industry experts, empowering them to recreate these experiences in their own kitchens and explore their culinary creativity.
Consumers value hands-on involvement at events because it offers them a more enriching, educational, and interactive experience, enabling them to develop their skills, expand their knowledge, and connect with others who share their passion for food and culinary exploration.
In 2023, the Winter workshops included cocktail masterclasses, Christmas canapés and festive knife skills. There were also a variety of tasting sessions that visitors could join, including discovering perfect wine pairings for a Christmas meal, learning how to taste wines and tasting weird and wonderful grape varieties at the BBC Good Food Wine Club. Visitors could also discover our smaller producers in sessions featuring cheese, coffee, chocolate and spices.
The show also highlights the significance of artisan food and drink producers, reflecting the growing consumer interest in locally sourced, high-quality products with a unique narrative. This emphasis on artisanal experiences has created a distinctive atmosphere, distinguishing the BBC Good Food Show from other events in the industry. Artisan food companies typically operate on a smaller scale, allowing them to focus on quality rather than mass production. This approach has resonated with consumers who appreciate the attention to detail, personalised touch, and the story behind each product.
The BBC Good Food Show Winter has become an important platform for artisan food companies to gain exposure and reach a wider audience, as well as bringing together food enthusiasts, industry professionals and potential customers, providing a space for artisan producers to showcase their products alongside established brands. The show offers a unique opportunity for consumers to sample and discover new and innovative food products, creating a buzz around the artisan food movement.
Larger brands continue to hold a significant role in the BBC Good Food Show Winter, with many food and cookware brands creating stands at the show to engage with their target audience. There has been a shift away from a sole focus on promoting products, to creating interactive brand stands that allow consumers to engage directly with them, telling the stories behind their brand, communicating their values and creating meaningful connections with the show audience. These include tasting experiences, hands-on workshops, and live cooking demonstrations with many brands working with influencers and chefs to enhance the experience further. Companies also use the show as an opportunity to bring wider campaigns and partnerships across print and digital throughout the wider BBC Good Food brand to life, as well as creating content to use across other channels, leading to an omnichannel approach across our live events, print and digital platforms and amplifying the reach of campaigns.
In addition, with advancements in technology, brands can now track and measure the impact of experiential marketing campaigns more accurately. Data analytics allow brands to assess the effectiveness of their campaigns, understand consumer behaviour, and make informed decisions for future marketing strategies, making it easier to measure the return on investment from events.
As the landscape has evolved, one of the biggest challenges that the BBC Good Food Show Winter has encountered has been the increased competition from other immersive food and drink experiences, including food festivals and Christmas markets. Since Covid-19, the number of outdoor food festivals has increased throughout the summer and at Christmas, there are lots of new Christmas markets, light shows, and pop-up immersive experiences and events. There are also lots of free-to-attend farmers markets where consumers can discover new food and drink products.
The cost-of-living crisis has also led to consumers having less disposable income and being more selective with how they spend their money and whilst, historically, many visitors would have visited every year, this is no longer the case, with many attending more infrequently. This has meant that there has been a big focus on attracting a new audience to the shows, with an increased marketing focus on lead generation using new technologies including digital marketing to reach a wider audience. Despite these challenges, the show has maintained its appeal, attracting 50,000 visitors each November. This resilience can be attributed to the team’s commitment to adapting to changing trends and consumer preferences while delivering a high-quality experience aligned closely with the broader BBC Good Food brand.
It is important that the BBC Good Food shows continue to adapt, listening to feedback from visitors and responding to changing trends and consumer preferences. It is also crucial to maintain a strong focus on delivering a high-quality experience, aligned closely to the wider BBC Good Food brand. For example, the BBC Good Food Show Winter event included live content aligned with the Christmas edition of the BBC Good Food Magazine which is focused on how to ‘Make it memorable’, with live demonstrations from the Christmas Kitchen and hands-on workshops aligned to creating memorable gifts and developing skills for Christmas.
Looking ahead, the BBC Good Food Show Winter remains dedicated to maintaining its alignment with the wider BBC Good Food brand and delivering an exceptional experience for its attendees. In line with the evolving digital landscape, the show has leveraged social media platforms to extend its reach and engagement, incorporating content from the event across various BBC Good Food digital platforms and the BBC Good Food Podcast. This omnichannel approach has enabled the event to amplify its impact and engage a broader audience beyond the physical event, helping to attract the right audience to future events.
The event’s strategic focus will continue to revolve around enhancing the visitor experience, introducing fresh culinary talent, and offering interactive workshops, tastings and live demonstrations, providing an immersive and educational platform for food enthusiasts and industry professionals.
Overall, the BBC Good Food shows have evolved by staying responsive to consumer feedback and emerging trends, to become a highly anticipated event that aligns with the brand’s strategy and provides a valuable platform for food and drink enthusiasts.
This article was first published in InPublishing magazine. If you would like to be added to the free mailing list to receive the magazine, please register here.