Core disciplines: Brand strategy, Innovation/NPD/Service Design

The Challenge...

The initial launch of Charlie Bigham’s high end ready meals in Waitrose originally transformed the ready meals category in the 90s. However this success meant that soon all the other major retailers followed and with that, Charlie Bigham’s clear differentiation was eroded.

While Bigham’s could claim to have superior ingredients, it was struggling for differentiation and was under pressure from the supermarkets to deliver growth in a very short timeframe.

The Solution

Working with a core team, including packaging and design agency Big Fish and shopper research expert Andrea Berlowitz, we embarked on a process to help Charlie Bigham's revitalise the brand and regain their challenger spirit. The aim was to change the conversation the brand would need to have with consumers in order to stand for something that other retailers could not follow.  We designed a ‘fast track’ version of our core Challenger Identity process in order to very quickly and efficiently create a stronger sense of identity (and the ideas to bring it to life).

The breakthrough came not from a more conventional ‘eating occasions’ segmentation strategy as initially thought, but rather from listening to customers talk about a moment in the week that was absent - date nights for busy married couples. People are spending less time with their partners than ever before and are crying out for ‘mid-week reconnections’. From this insight we helped the core team develop a strong strategic brand identity, and Big Fish (good friends but no relation) turned the strategy into the creative notion of celebrating ‘twosomes’, which was brought to life on pack, in copy and across their marketing channels.


  • Charlie Bigham’s became the fastest growing ready-meal brand in the UK, growing more than doubling year on year after the launch of twosomes.
  • In 2012 Sainsbury’s announced that they would list Bigham’s in 300 more stores nationwide, seeing Charlie Bigham’s RSV hit £20m – a fivefold increase in retail sales since its re-launch.
  • Marketing Society Awards for Excellence 2011 (Highly commended)


"The work with eatbigfish was fundamental in helping us get clear on what we stood for as a brand. There have obviously been a number of critical drivers in our subsequent twentyfold sales growth - relentlessly improving quality, creating a strong and distinctive identity, innovating new products, getting the right range and price, really understanding our marketing levers and extending distribution. But it all started with us really understanding what we stood for as a brand."

Tom Allchurch, CEO Charlie Bigham's

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