A Conversation about Change: From Traditional to Healthful

June 7th, 2013 Posted by Emergent Column 0 comments on “A Conversation about Change: From Traditional to Healthful”


Welcome to a new feature at the What’s Good For You, America blog – a recurring column that will give you an inside look at the key players, opinions, views and news of what’s going on at Emergent. A Peek in the Conference Room begins with a story about change — specifically the challenges of making a meaningful transformation, and thoughts from two of Emergent’s Healthy Living Advisors team.

Frankly, there are a million reasons not to.  “The System’s too large.  Our tastes are too iconic. We’ll never get consensus internally.  And even if we did, the business pressures just won’t allow this kind of transition.  Or investment.  Or training.  Or headcount…”

Yet the writing is on the wall.  You’ve seen others take the hit; from the media, from the health and wellness community. Even from those who had been brand loyalists.  And maybe, now, even from those inside your own organization.

The tide is turning – for real.  It’s not a fad.  It’s beyond the news story du jour.  You know in your gut (coincidently) that this groundswell is bigger.  And it’s going to impact your business sooner or later – and it’s feeling like sooner.

So, what do you do?  How can you balance the transition?  Where do you even start?

Fortunately, there are those who have gone before; from mega brands to moms-‘n-pops.  You think, “Well, sure, some CPG organizations or retailers have the infrastructure and the culture and strong enough baselines to accommodate this kind of transition.”  The truth is, though, each had to begin somewhere — just like you.

Bob Wheatley, CEO of Emergent Healthy Living, counsels, “making the transition from traditional to healthful doesn’t have to painful – but it should be smart and strategic.  The key is to focus on the right elements, to bring together the right team; to begin with the end in mind and to set realistic, yet achievable stretch goals that will be meaningful – and merchandisable – to customers, to shareholders and to the often critical stakeholders – while continuing to deliver a great-tasting product consistent with your brand.”

Emergent takes a 360-degree approach to customize a strategic roadmap that will be both utilitarian and meaningful for your business.  Working with experts who have helped big food and beverage businesses with exactly these kinds of evolutions, allows a level of expediency while taking out some of the guess-work where other brands may have faltered.

“One of the most important elements of this kind of endeavor is leadership,” advises Lori Miller, one of Emergent’s Healthy Living Advisors and a key player in McDonald’s USA’s Commitments to Nutrition evolution.  Inspiring the team to ‘boldly go where no team has gone before’ is needed to address the company’s opportunities around product modification, development and marketing and communications strategies. “This can’t be three-people in a room making decisions.  Rather, a comprehensive team representative of the various elements of the business; each engaged in thinking in new ways; to bring about the energy and innovation needed for long-term success – from suppliers at the beginning of product development to customer satisfaction on the other side.  In short, it’s about that kind of commitment.”

“It begins with understanding nutrition science,” informs Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D. –  a sought-after speaker on nutrition, prolific writer and also an Emergent Healthy Living Advisor.  “In order to understand where you need to go – you need to understand where you are.  For years, the focus has been on taste – plain and simple.  Now, seemingly everyone is talking about food:  nutritional attributes, ingredients, quality, sourcing.  These discussions are not just happening among dietitians – but around dinner tables, among family and friends, from kids to Millennials to seniors and all points in between – around the country and around the world.  People are reading labels, and making choices most healthful for them.  Consumers are more aware, more educated and more opinionated about food than ever before.”

So, as you look at the future of your brand and your new product development; your existing products and packaging; your marketing and communications efforts; your engagement with key stakeholders – and shareholders – how are you measuring up in the midst of this nutrition evolution?  We all want to eat better – and eat better food – and your brand can be an active part of that solution.

Take a peek under the hood?

Whether you’re starting from scratch or need a fresh look at your current efforts, Emergent is here to help.  We’d be happy to talk with you about your situation and customize a strategic plan appropriate for your business.

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