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How Shock Sells.

As social beings, consumers have an innate tendency to conform. We have a subconscious desire to fit in and gain approval from others. On a macro scale this is reflected in the historical move towards a consumerist society which gave the masses access to homogenous goods and services. We all wanted the same things and we wanted them fast and cheap. This human trait explains why, when a product goes viral and we see it circulated on social media we want to try it. Think whispering Angel Rose last summer (admit it, you got your hands on some!).

Whispering Angel

But, in a world where everyone wants the same suddenly brands are using ‘shock’ tactics and ‘difference’ to sell. They are pushing the boundaries of politically correct, combining ingredients they probably shouldn’t and using the element of surprise in PR-focused campaigns that inevitably fly. It is the kind of content that stops you in your scrolling, attracting attention by disrupting the predictable motions of a brand.

In April 2019 Cadbury announced the launch of a Crème Egg flavoured HEINZ mayo. Later, in March this year, they publicised their expansion into beer. Let’s just say that when taste-tested, the feelings were mixed.

Goo-Beer-Lee Beer

Back in December 2020, KFC posted the below announcement, encouraging its customers to “shop at McDonald’s”; spinning it to reveal that it was asking for consumer support of the hospitality industry as a whole following the devastation COVID-19 has left in its wake. Whilst the post received predictable backlash, they shouldn’t have been encouraging consumers to: eat high fat goods, support American franchises over local independents or finance companies that under pay their staff, the campaign is an example of the shock tactics that are increasingly being adopted.

So, if the trend it to shock, how can we create shock-worthy products with a point of difference? The kind that will attract attention.  

Within the F&B NPD/EPD space, shock can be achieved in any number of ways including: bold packaging, new flavour combinations, sustainability claims and innovative ops and process. Think We have seen an array of champagne and serrano chilli crisps to jelly bean craft beer…

As London’s leading food and beverage consultancy, Food Innovation Solutions could help you achieve that point of difference, achieving a positive shock factor through forward-thinking, ground-breaking innovation.

To find out how FIS could help you to develop a USP or shock-worthy product, get in touch with:


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