Bridging the divide during historic change in food and beverage…
When we launched Emergent, it was based on an overwhelming body of research and marketplace evidence that food and beverage brands are in a state of transformation and thus, in need of new, fresh, refined and more relevant business-building solutions.
Of all the issues creating change, from the demand for transparency and clean labels and fresh foods — healthier lifestyle is the dominant driver that is impacting the consumer’s desire for improvement in the food and beverages they prefer.
Cultural shift makes healthier all-inclusive
Historically, the food industry’s approach to ‘healthier’ was an addition-by-subtraction model based on removing so-called bad ingredients like sugar, calories, sodium and fat; AKA the ‘diet foods’ business. For consumers, though, this often meant sacrificing taste and eating satisfaction. Which they did. For years. This was bound to be problematic because it existed in conflict with the embedded human desire for great taste and indulgent food experiences. Guilt only goes so far.
However, pervasive changes in global food culture caused the concept of healthier to shift. The good-for-you proposition began to look more like addition by addition. Healthy was restaged to focus on real, fresh, authentic, higher quality, less processed foods – more so than food science wizardry. Healthy became inclusive, lifestyle oriented and user friendly.
- The root cause of change: consumers connected the dots between the quality of what they put in their bodies, with how that fuels what they’re able to do, and hence, their ultimate happiness and wellness.
As consumers became more engaged in higher quality food choices, it resulted in the widespread premiumization of many food and beverage categories. At the same time, media consumption habits shifted to social and digital channels controlled by consumers rather than brands.
We believe an agency devoted to mining this insight and bringing fresh thinking to the table is needed to offer meaningful guidance in the midst of this sea change.
New implications to the food system are reshuffling the industry:
- Large cap CPG brands have experienced share and volume declines in core legacy categories. Consumers are moving away from anything perceived as highly processed or made from ingredients they don’t understand.
- New emerging brands built on higher quality, fresh and real food ingredient solutions have grabbed the spotlight to reinvent everything from frozen meals to grain-based snacks.
- Food retail shopping behaviors have shown a significant shift to the perimeter of the store as consumers increasingly look for fresh, real food products over center store packaged options. They’re also increasingly shopping more frequently for meal solutions over pantry stock-ups.
- Meal kit solutions have taken share in food, by virtue of offering menu solutions derived from high quality fresh ingredients, married to easy preparation steps. Convenience meets culinary inspiration and taste satisfaction.
Time for transformation
We know that new, emerging, purposeful brands are gaining traction and attention in kitchens across America. So we visibly witness the dawn of a true food renaissance taking place around us.
- People are coming back to the kitchen, looking to exercise their creativity and control over preparations, freshness and quality of ingredients.
- We’ve entered a period where transparency, health and wellness, safety and authenticity drive purchases more so than the legacy stalwarts of price and convenience.
- We know the founder’s backstory and commitment to a real mission beyond the product itself is a critical component of the new brand marketing playbook.
We‘ve operationalized our understanding of what these changes mean and how to create traction in a fast-changing business environment.
Emergent’s value proposition
We’ve developed a proprietary planning model that reflects this understanding; one that demands a new approach to how brand relationships with consumers are formed, and thus, how effective brand communications should be created.
- We are experts in this space; our services are aligned with answering these challenges.
- We help legacy brands challenge conventional strategies and re-stage to optimize today’s conditions and help new brands accelerate their growth. We understand the consumer and how they think, how they behave and how they consume information.
If your marketing communications plans look exactly the same as last year’s, the time may be right for fresh thinking. We exist to help brands and businesses navigate and grow in the midst of transformative changes in purchase behavior. We can help you take the leap to increased relevance and alignment with this new marketing paradigm.
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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 [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.