Posts tagged "food trend"

Brands are badges to be worn

4 Unique Strategies for Premium CPG Brand Growth

September 23rd, 2021 Posted by Brand Design, brand marketing, brand messaging, brand strategy, Category Design, Emerging brands, Food Trend, Insight, Marketing Strategy, Product design, Strategic Planning 0 comments on “4 Unique Strategies for Premium CPG Brand Growth”

Advantages you can plan and design for

Food culture in America has dramatically shifted during the last 10 years. People favor premium quality, higher priced products that address modern dietary needs serving health, wellness and sustainability goals. Better food experiences, fresh ingredients, more sophisticated tastes and the brand sustainability symbolism that goes along with it help complete the mission and taste adventure. This is the preference paradigm where all innovations whether from legacy brand or new player must pay homage on the road to success.

  • Here are four key strategies that hold sway over your ability to succeed, to grow and gain share for food and beverage innovations.

We highlight these four distinctive growth strategies in part because they are passed over all too frequently. Eclipsed by the allure of instant scale, every-new-retail-door-is-a-good-door and ill-advised distribution moves that undercut the very brand value proposition that premium CPG solutions embody. This helps explain the high innovation failure rate or seemingly insurmountable plateaus where new emerging brands stall out, never getting a shot at the high volume homeruns of wider adoption downstream.

Want to assure your brand innovations are successful and not a casualty on the path to pantry and fridge domination? Then read on.

  1. Your product concept is the marketing lynchpin (watch out for the Special Occasion Trap)

Food retailers care about velocity and monitor it relentlessly. Marketers care about scale because velocity and scale together are the flags of a winning concept; thus, why growth nirvana for premium CPG success always begins with strategic product and category design. Your innovation goal is a product that naturally, intuitively fits with frequent if not daily consumption occasions and feeds high repeat purchase behavior. Retailers understand this and look for it.

Products that are intended for niche, episodic occasions are much harder to score scaling victory for the very reason they don’t lend themselves to velocity, high repeat purchase business imperatives. If fancy jams are your jam, be prepared for the embedded difficulties that come with slow turn categories or segments with a narrow, special interest fan base.

2. Public ‘display’ categories add symbolism romance to marketing

Food and beverage purchases these days are largely symbolic. People ‘wear’ their brands as a statement, a flag, a visible demonstration of what they value and what they wish to signal to the world around them about who they are.

You know this so can you plan for it, use it. How can you enable consumers to fly your symbolic brand flag? Does your premium brand innovation lend itself to public display occasions such as barbecues, parties, taken to the office or gym and consumed in a social setting? Brand iconography, symbolism and telegraphing of same can be deployed here to help your users display and vote their beliefs and values. Too often this opportunity gets overlooked.

3. Pack strategies can ignite new occasions

No doubt you’ve heard of price-pack architecture. There is a bit of CPG magic in this strategic growth solution. It helps you lean into new and different occasions while creating higher average retail price points (more cash and flow) with a perceived embedded consumer discount, and more facings (brand billboard) at shelf. Pack architecture projects open the door to migrating your users to new consumption occasions.

Amplify Brands’ Skinny Pop brand rode the pack architecture idea to fame and fortune by creating both smaller bags and larger pack sizes of their pound-able guilt-free popcorn. The move lifted average price points while leveraging new use occasions from school lunches to birthday parties. When you offer new packs the input costs are manageable while adding exponential growth on the income side and serving the usage occasion/velocity rule at the same time.

4. The slightly uncomfortable but immutable rule of upscale zip code distribution

There’s an old but wise saying: fish where the fish are. For premium priced food and beverage innovations the distribution strategy decisions you make will have an enormous impact on your ability to gain traction and scale the business. Where you do business matters especially in the early going.

Premium innovations are home to higher quality ingredients, real food-based formulations.  These brands reflect the lifestyle symbolism embraced by consumer cohorts who in reality control the fortunes and failures of new product fame or flame out.

What do we know: educated, high earning households congregate in upmarket neighborhoods. Trial for premium priced CPG innovations will always be better served in retail doors that exist to serve an upscale shopper base. These folks not only won’t flinch at your higher price point, they are also hunters of new premium innovations. Early trial fuels their social currency of being a word-of mouth warrior.

There was a time when Whole Foods owned the early trial zone for premium CPG innovations, but other banners have caught up in their premium offerings. Now it’s a zip code exercise where your decisions are more about the education levels of the communities you distribute in ahead of other considerations.

The guidance: not every new door is the right retail door. Controlled expansion plus patience are better for building your business rather than taking distribution wherever you can get it. EDLP retailers have a different model and a different shopper base driven more by price point than your quality ingredient, healthy lifestyle bona fides. Walmart is better for mass legacy brands for this reason.

  • Broader distribution and wider geographic expansion make sense when innovations become mainstream and lower income households begin to take them up. Going that route too early can create problems leading to profit-eroding price drops and even delisting if you’re not careful.

There are 40 metro areas in the U.S. where greater than 30% of the adult population has a Bachelor degree or higher. That’s a cohort of more than 65 million adults. Higher income zip codes within those metros are primed for premium CPG introductions. These higher income, higher educated households are tuned-in to the evolutionary changes going on in modern dietary preferences. They are listening to your narrative.

  • In sum, you will grow in geographic areas where large numbers of people attach their lifestyle symbolism to your brand and spread it in their social circles. You should be on shelf in the banners where the shopper population is experientially primed to look for you.

Don’t forget to consider University towns for the same reason. These can be enthusiastic communities for bold, dietary alterations and innovations. Young adults especially are early adopters and influential in making new dietary shifts.

Here is the premium CPG innovation recipe for success assuming the product design fits squarely in the frequent consumption arena.

  • Build visibility, awareness and discoverability in the right stores in the right zip codes.
  • Increase local household penetration.
  • Increase consumption rates among early-in users by adding consumption occasions.

If you have these challenges and strategic questions as you plan your innovations and launch strategies, use this link to start a conversation with us. We can help you create a roadmap to success and the brand narrative well told to go with it. We are new product launch specialists.


Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to the Emerging Trends Report.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, The Healthy Living Agency. Traditional brand marketing often sidesteps more human qualities that can help consumers form an emotional bond. Yet brands yearn for authentic engagement, trust and a lasting relationship with their customers. Emergent helps brands erase ineffective self-promotion and replace it with clarity, honesty and deeper meaning in their customer relationships and communication. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Niche community marketing

The Niche-ification of Brand and Retail Marketing is Here

August 31st, 2021 Posted by brand advocacy, Brand Design, brand marketing, brand messaging, Brand preference, brand strategy, Category Design, CMO, consumer behavior, Consumer insight, Customer Journey Map, Differentiation, Emotional relevance, Food Trend, Higher Purpose, Insight, Social proof, storytelling, Strategic Planning 0 comments on “The Niche-ification of Brand and Retail Marketing is Here”

Internet enables strategic shift to networks of influence

Forever and a day, brand and retail marketing centered on identifying key user targets, parsing user cohorts and unearthing insights to define their respective habits, preferences, passions, interests and behaviors. The goal – to refine brand relevance; make media decisions based on their demographics and psychographics; and craft creative messaging to reach these individuals.

But the world has changed (again) and now the path to consumer engagement must be calculated in the context of how and where people participate in communities that help them filter, read, decide and buy.

More than at any other time in modern marketing, products are more susceptible to trends than individual preferences. What do we now know? People are social creatures. The digital world we all live in enables and caters to their collective passions whether that be health and wellness, cooking creativity, love of wine and spirits, fashionable-ness or nurturing a pet-oriented lifestyle.

Communities form and prosper around shared interests.

The wisdom of a curated community

Neuroscience now helps us understand that behaviors are impacted by trends and popularity in user communities. People see community recognition and acceptance as validation that a product or a TV show must be good because ‘everybody’ is using or watching it. Call it fear of missing out or confidence in community consensus.

  • Old way of thinking: to scale your business go wide, cast a broad net and employ mass media as much as possible.
  • New way of thinking: look for networks of influence and go narrow to micro-communities that cater to niche tastes and shared values.

The Internet has operated as an endless digital enabler of nichemanship. Yet many brands remain wed to strategies focused on individuals and amassing eyeballs more so than immersion into the smaller communities where people participate and ‘belong.’

Questions you should be asking

In which communities do your users belong and participate?

Who are the sources of influence and prominent voices in that network?

What trends and interests are actively supported in the community?

How can you best enable users to contribute to the community?

It’s important to take note of shared tastes and values in these settings and to employ that insight in your messaging and outreach strategies.

What are your customers’ embedded interests? What issues, activities, hobbies do they care about and invest their time? If users have a specific interest area that lights their fire, chances are they belong to a community that focuses on it. People participate in influence networks that inform and feed their passions.

Look for the ‘religion’

Some might agree love of whiskey is a religion. There are beliefs and values associated with distilling traditions, still design, ingredients, casks and aging. There’s unique nomenclature and perceptions of what constitutes a good, better or best product. There are lifestyle associations, groups, communities, events and narrowcast media. There are also expert voices and sources of influence on what matters and new developments in product innovation.

For a brand there is more to be gained by studying the networks of influence than blind devotion to detailed persona descriptions of individual whiskey heavy users. Trends can drive leaps in market share, so it’s important to operate as a disciple in the community, embrace the religion of shared beliefs and identify the influence networks within them.

This concept of category religion can be applied in any number of high-engagement businesses where a fan base of ambassadors and evangelists reside.

The role of experts in outreach

Building credibility and trust are paramount these days. Deployment of subject matter experts, be they credentialed or citizen, matters greatly in verifying trends and authenticating community beliefs. When the brand sees its role as enabler, coach and guide to its users rather than product seller, deploying expert engagement in social channels can feed participation, conversation and sharing.

The foundation: your brand Higher Purpose

It is easier to anchor marketing in communities of shared values and beliefs when the brand ‘soul’ is well developed around a purpose that transcends commerce and self-promotion. If you want people to join your community as believers, then you have to give them something in which to believe.

Sadly more often than not, the brand’s ability to position itself in influence networks and community is diluted by operating in the ’three miles wide and a half inch deep‘ mode of transactional behavior. Purpose imbues your brand with a more meaningful voice and greater resonance because the community sees you are wearing your values like a well-tailored suit. 

Hard work ahead

Identifying and understanding networks of influence requires more study and asking different questions during insight research.  Conversation within these communities based on trends and values will help build brand relevance and value among those who care the most. Those are your best customers who over time will deliver greater volume and profit than the less loyal, less engaged users who come and go on deal.

If you think fresh thinking and guidance on influence strategies would benefit your marketing plans, use this link to start an informal conversation

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to the Emerging Trends Report.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, The Healthy Living Agency. Traditional brand marketing often sidesteps more human qualities that can help consumers form an emotional bond. Yet brands yearn for authentic engagement, trust and a lasting relationship with their customers. Emergent helps brands erase ineffective self-promotion and replace it with clarity, honesty and deeper meaning in their customer relationships and communication. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

ZUPA NOMA soups

Healthy Disruption: ZÜPA NOMA Spells the Future of Food

July 25th, 2017 Posted by brand marketing, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Healthy Living, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Healthy Disruption: ZÜPA NOMA Spells the Future of Food”

Food culture shifts now redefine the business landscape

What is soup? For decades, its iconic reference standard in the packaged food aisle was a red and white can that required added water for preparation. Hearty to be sure, a bit salty, and yes, those mushy veg, pasta and protein chunks. For years these cans held absolute reign in the soup category. Campbell’s was the Kleenex of soup. Weather predictably determined volume movement at retail. Colder days meant more can velocity. That’s all you really needed to know about the soup business.

Then the world changed. Reinvention is occurring at a pace never before imagined as new companies with an eye on what matters to evolving consumers, create new products that have healthy and higher quality embedded in their DNA.

The heat index on soup has gone cold – as in cold, drinkable soup that operates as a hand-held injection of goodness now ‘coursing’ through all dayparts from breakfast energy boost to heartier snack solution to dinner accompaniment. And in doing so, tearing up the notions of what soup is – while daringly extending its value proposition far beyond lunch staple.

So what is the future of food? Look right inside the bottle of ZÜPA NOMA, where you’ll find an array of certified organic vegetables puréed with other well-known symbols of healthy like turmeric, spirulina, lemongrass and apple cider vinegar. Their proposition: From Farm to Bottle. Unique culinary-inspired flavors like Beet Orange Basil that hit hard on nutritious portability.

We interviewed ZÜPA NOMA’s knowledgeable, erudite VP of Marketing, Jen Berliner on their company’s place in the shifting food landscape. This is how the new world order in food foretells the food world’s future.

Jen Berliner

Jen Berliner, VP of Marketing, ZÜPA NOMA

Emergent: We’re seeing significant shifts in consumer preference from highly- processed products to fresher versions such as ZÜPA, what’s driving these changes?

Jen: Everybody knows generally about ‘eat your vegetables’. But now there’s more awareness of fiber benefits, healthy fats, as well as concerns like presence of gluten or GMOs. People are taking their health into their own hands. And they are looking for food options with a mission. Consumers are simply more aware. The Internet and social media supplies a big pipeline of information about concerns like added sugars in food. So people are asking how can I make changes?

Emergent: Health and wellness is an overarching lifestyle consideration for many consumers, how does this impact your business strategies?

Jen: The ZÜPA NOMA brand exists in support of healthier lives. We offer blended organic vegetables in a more convenient and accessible form. People live busy lifestyles and don’t have time to chop, peel and puree vegetables into a drinkable soup.

We are creating a lifestyle-friendly solution. Our goal is to become a part of people’s daily routine. And our e-commerce platform allows people anywhere to get our products. We’re relatively new on the scene, but we’re seeing an amazing response. I know of consultants on the road who order our products for delivery to their hotel rooms.

Emergent: Big food brands provide a significant source of promotion spending to retailers, how do you answer the question buyers consider about how to help move your product from cold case to cart?

Jen: There’s no question big food companies have advantages due to their size and depth of resources. But I would say retailers also recognize being on trend with consumer preferences matters. We think the path to growth is through true partnerships with retailers where we work together to optimize facings, pricing and education at the store level. I would also say for us, selecting the right retail partners is important; those that are aligned with us and see this [ZÜPA] as a good strategic fit. We work together to bring the right level of education to the store, and invest in field marketing. And especially sampling: it’s when you see those eyes light up after a consumer tastes our product. That’s a real ‘aha’ moment.

Emergent: Food industry studies show transparency and visibility to the supply chain are now part of food purchase considerations, especially for millennial consumers, how are you addressing this interest?

Jen: Transparency is important to us, so we do everything we can on our website to share information on our certified organic ingredient sources and how we make our products. We think that education is important to our growth so we’re doing everything we can to tell our story. We have a robust customer service team for a company of our size, and work to be available to customers to answer their questions one-on-one.

“Just because it’s green doesn’t mean it’s healthy”

ZÜPA NOMA competes in the cold case with other HPP-made cold-pressed juice products. While there’s a shared claim of nutrient density and higher quality organic ingredients, Berliner observes that the nutrition delivery story needs a closer look. ZÜPA NOMA offers a drinkable way to get your organic veggies that comes with all the fiber and vitamins by pureeing the entire ingredient, skin and seeds included. “What it doesn’t come with is all the sugar grams you’ll find in some of these juice products,” she said.

Emergent: What’s the future of packaged food business look like to you?

Jen: There is an overarching drive to clean labels, simple ingredients that people understand. It’s forcing evolutionary changes in the food industry. Legacy businesses are trying to adapt and change.

(However) the speed to market and to innovation has increased dramatically. Smaller companies like ours can move faster and can be more nimble in answering consumer food needs and interests.

Perhaps most notable is the rapid pace of change. Innovation is occurring at break-neck speed with development cycles moving from years to months. Innovations like ZÜPA NOMA are arriving on the scene almost daily as new solutions create new categories that are often married to the symbolism consumers now look for:

  • Higher quality
  • Sustainably sourced ingredients
  • Culinary-inspired recipes and adventurous flavor profiles
  • The certification check boxing like Whole30, Paleo, Non-GMO and Gluten-Free
  • Along with a higher purpose and mission that extends benefits to the environment and a reimagined future of the food system

Perhaps the most important piece of guidance in here is the underlying synergy between these new food brands and food culture changes. Not every new idea will succeed. Some will remain distant bit-part players while others will become the new mega-stars of the food industry firmament. The difference between grand slams and base hits will be in how their respective value propositions are addressed, and how close each comes to solving real consumer desires – and tasting great while doing it.

We think Berliner and her team at ZÜPA NOMA are likely to be winners in this new game given their relevance and responsiveness to: the coalescing of real healthy solution; portability in a world that loves this attribute; multiple occasion usefulness; and culinary-friendly recipes and unique flavor profiles.

Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

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