Posts tagged "client-agency relationship"

Emergent Answers the Healthy Living Chasm

October 30th, 2017 Posted by brand marketing, brand strategy, consumer behavior, Consumer insight, Emergent Column, Food Trend, Growth 0 comments on “Emergent Answers the Healthy Living Chasm”

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.

  1. People are coming back to the kitchen, looking to exercise their creativity and control over preparations, freshness and quality of ingredients.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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 [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.


client-agency relationship

The Brand Marketers’ Dilemma

July 13th, 2017 Posted by brand marketing 0 comments on “The Brand Marketers’ Dilemma”

Agencies as partners; well yes, but whom do I trust?

Ideally, the relationship between the brand team and your agency should spring from a strong partnership – one that enables a collective deep dive into your business and category needs and challenges. Your agency’s contribution to the cause: bring fresh, independent thinking and broad experience to help you map the best path forward.

In keeping with the partner role, the agency should come equipped with knowledge and understanding of the consumer you wish to build a relationship with. In theory, this is what communications firms do – create and implement recipes for successful conversations. You would be hard pressed to make that recipe work if you don’t have a deep understanding of the aspiration, interests and passions of those you wish to reach.

Agencies are creative communications think tanks – specialists who know how to work backwards from consumer insight to messages that are relevant and engaging. Twenty years ago that might have fallen out of cinematic production values and attempts at persuasion based on catchy tunes, tethered to entertaining product benefit stories.

Alas, the world has changed and consumers look for help over hype. So now what? If not a stellar reel of short form Hollywood moviemaking, the grist for success has a different face. And you know what it is – it’s trust creation.

We ask how can a brand marketer be assured their agency pick is the right one for partnership? How can you peer into the future and know this is going to work to the greatest effect?

It is fundamentally a matter of trust. This is no different than the end game of outreach to consumers. Trust looms large as a precursor to any kind of good, productive relationship. Hopefully, when you got married you moved from a place of trust to one of life’s most important personal relationships. Did you make an analytical list of pros and cons as a decision tree on your potential spouse selection? No, it was based on how you felt.

Is trust just an emotional state? Is this the luck of the draw? At the human level we know we respond differently to different kinds of people. Yes, some of it is basic chemistry, but I would venture to say that common ground often sparks the process.

Call it alignment, similar thinking, compatible points of view, shared understanding and super important: mutual respect between the business and agency teams. You might start with relevant experience as a starter and go from there. Like-mindedness sets the stage for good working conditions. A strong agency sees its role as helpful, insightful guide, not order taker. Also, arrogance has no place at the table of a partner relationship.

Trust and belief matter here. This is not as transactional condition. It can’t be.

It’s fair to ask what’s the opposite of trusted partner? Probably something that gets closer to vendor. A supplier relationship based on ‘shipping’ commodity solutions at lower prices. If successful communication was simply flipping a switch on and off, then this might work out. However, getting to victory requires better strategy, deeper insights, and more investment to peel the onion of consumer needs and how to craft a mutually beneficial relationship with them.

When considering an agency partner, begin with conversations in settings that allow for more than a fact-based exchange of capability information. Explore the business challenges, get to know one another, look for common ground and perspectives about where the business is headed and how to get there.

When trust exists, you’ll know it. You knew it when you got married (hopefully). You also know when it’s missing – and there’s your decision.

By the way, partner-style relationships can exist when clients open the door to create an immersive exposure to the business. The goal: fully understand the company and how it functions. Nothing drives great work more than insight to all facets of how the business is operating. It feeds creative thinking and strategic, more powerful and transformational solutions. Of course, to make that work you need – wait for it – trust.

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 [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Client-Agency Relationship

There’s a reason you never hear about Client-Agency Vendorships

May 26th, 2016 Posted by Growth, Insight, Transformation 0 comments on “There’s a reason you never hear about Client-Agency Vendorships”
In marketing you truly reap what you sow.

In marketing and communications, time plus experience combine to help provide hard evidence of what works extraordinarily well vs. what constitutes the far more frequent base hit rather than home run outcome.


Communications Success

We’re Blowing Up The Agency Value Proposition

February 10th, 2016 Posted by Insight, Transformation, Uncategorized 0 comments on “We’re Blowing Up The Agency Value Proposition”

What to do when often the product is the marketing…

Typically we see clients looking to their agencies to create and craft communications tools. In many cases the “ask” is quite prescriptive: we need a [fill in standard tactic here] for this project/launch/introduction. The request goes out. And many firms are content to provide their form of nail for the available budget hammer.


Client-Agency Relationships

Part 2: Emergent’s 2016 Marcom Myth Busters

December 28th, 2015 Posted by Growth, Insight, Retail brand building, Transformation, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Part 2: Emergent’s 2016 Marcom Myth Busters”
3 Steps to Marketing Greatness – Mapping the Milestones to Transformation.

Over the course of my career there have been moments when lightning struck – when ideas well-executed helped usher in transformational change for a client.

Looking back, I’ve noticed some common threads through these experiences – where guidance emerges around the right conditions that elevate the level of work, the outcomes and business benefits.

Some of this will seem intuitive, but it’s one thing to say it and another to do it.


Marketing Launch Button

Part 1: Emergent’s 2016 Marcom Myth Busters

December 16th, 2015 Posted by brand marketing, Insight, Navigation, Retail brand building, retail brand relevance, Transformation 0 comments on “Part 1: Emergent’s 2016 Marcom Myth Busters”

What Clients Often Want…Artists of the Launch.

Emergent’s unique business model casts our client relationships in two principal roles:

  1. Communications, mostly earned, owned and social; and
  2. Brand and business consulting, rethinking the organization’s mission, product and brand strategy.

Every so often these two areas integrate with one client and in those cases we usually find some of the most outstanding work we do and results that can be truly, wonderfully transformational.