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The secret behind Tesco’s award winning Free From food range

Nicki Clowes

Free From Brand Manager
Welwyn Garden City, UK

10 May 2016

Tesco launched a Free From brand of food back in 2003, and is still leading the way – recently winning Retailer of the Year 2016 at the Free From Food Awards for the second year on the trot.

With a specialised range, competition from a host of other retailers, plus some big industry challenges involved in making Free From foods, how do we stay ahead? The answer is simple. We invest time in listening to customers.

As more consumers choose the range for lifestyle reasons, remaining focused on our core, medically-diagnosed customers is critical. These customers make up the bulk of our Free From sales. That’s why I spend a good deal of my time going to allergy awareness exhibitions and shows, or Coeliac UK regional events, to hear stories, understand what people are missing and identify particular unmet needs. 

"I spend a good deal of my time going to allergy awareness exhibitions and shows to hear stories"

These conversations give us insight into living with the condition, while personal stories and experiences mean we can be specific with our development team. It leads to more targeted communications as well. Ultimately, listening helps us constantly challenge ourselves to improve so that people don’t have to shop around as they do currently.   

Feedback from one Allergy & Free From Show was really interesting - the most missed products were scampi and garlic bread. Our product development team picked it up, and at the Glasgow show this year we sampled the new Free From products. One lady came up to us to tell us she hadn’t been able to have scampi for 17 years. She was so overjoyed to eat her forbidden food that she had a tear in her eye. It’s this impact on people’s day to day lives that fuels our passion.  

During Coeliac Awareness Week (9-15 May), we are taking to social media to ask Free From shoppers what their dream meals are. Our development chefs will create the most the top rated dishes, and recipes will go on Tesco’s Real Food website. We’ll be listening to the stories behind the dream meal requests and feeding this back to product development teams too, another way that real life anecdotes keep driving what Tesco does.

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