Posts tagged "Hartman Group"

Emerging Trend: The Personalization of Food

February 27th, 2020 Posted by brand marketing, brand strategy, CMO, consumer behavior, Culinary lifestyle, food retail strategy, Food Trend, Healthy lifestyle, Healthy Living, Higher Purpose, Insight, Transformation 0 comments on “Emerging Trend: The Personalization of Food”

Creating hyper-relevant products for the marketplace of one

Have you noticed over the last 20 years palates have become more sophisticated? Quality expectations around menus, ingredients and preparations have grown alongside the rising popularity of celebrity chefs. Elevated cooking is everywhere. A genuinely satisfying culinary experience can now be had at the neighborhood gastro-pub. Great food experience is just an arm’s reach away. This is evidence of a food culture shift.

Equally so, food literacy has jumped with the treasure trove of content available online that satisfies the consumer’s thirst to know more about the food they put in their bodies. This concern got traction when people generally connected the dots between the quality of the food they consume and the quality of their lives. People now understand that diet influences the foundation of health and wellness, and sub-optimal nutrition may contribute to the onset of disease. More culture driven transformation.

An outcome of being in constant control is the marketplace of one

While the importance of food-to-lifestyle goals climb, the consumer’s ability to control every aspect of brand engagement, curation of the information and media they ingest has changed their expectations and their worldview. Culturally, people no longer buy the idea of one size fits all, and this applies equally to dietary sensibilities and food regimens.

The North American CPG food business is evolving towards a market of one. It hasn’t fully arrived yet, but the signs are emerging around a desire for more personalized and customized food and beverage solutions. A recent report on this topic by The Hartman Group cites the growing interest in individualized and hyper-relevant products and food experiences.

This step into personalized nutrition is already being reflected in dietary preferences, shopping behaviors, food preparation skills and techniques and most of all, consumption. What’s coming soon is the marriage of personalization and customization with health and wellness to redefine the future of the food and beverage business.

Factors influencing the personalization trend can be seen in the consumer’s growing interest in biomarkers. When people start to pay attention to DNA kits and reports, blood glucose levels and microbiomes, it is an outgrowth of the desire to truly understand how to optimally fuel oneself. We are all unique and our lives impacted by how we are assembled from the moment we arrive on earth.

  • By the way, this emerging trend in human food will crossover to pet food at some point because the same rules apply.

Be-spoke menus and meals

People want to tailor the food they eat to their needs and preferences. I like the ordering line at Chipotle for that very reason. I can get the burrito exactly how I want it. What’s going on there is a sense of control that sits at the foundation of its appeal. We ask the question: how can food and beverage businesses answer the desire for greater dietary control?

One way to look at this is to follow the thread of dietary concerns that are gaining momentum.

Here are some leading-edge areas ripe for innovation and fresh perspective:

  • Stress, anxiety and sleeplessness
  • Neuro health
  • Aging and beauty
  • Microbiome (gut health and inflammation)
  • Independence and mobility
  • Food as medicine

These emerging concerns sit alongside the long-standing stalwarts of weight management, energy boost and clean eating, and are now demanding more attention in the aisles at your local supermarket.

Note that all of these emerging nutrition considerations bear witness to the intersection of food as a primary driver of health and wellness. Nutrient density sits at the front door of defining, for the consumer, what is indeed healthy food or drink. From a marketing viewpoint, it’s important to mention here that relevant health & wellness markers such as fresher, less processed, locally and sustainably sourced, simple recipes/labels, real food ingredients and higher quality, matter because of what they represent to a novice or less trusting base of potential purchasers.

Not far away is the growing list of avoidances that accompany the consumer’s food literacy advances. Essential especially for legacy CPG brands to be aware of these concerns and to optimize their formulations to steer clear of problem areas like GMOs, hormones, antibiotics and preservatives.

What can be emphasized here is a prevailing consumer desire to accumulate positive nutrients, in an effort to improve and better manage health and wellbeing. When beef jerky becomes a positive contributor to wellbeing with cleaner labels and vastly improved recipes, you know goodness can be created just about anywhere. Check out Prevail Jerky.

Emergence of new food and beverage is symptomatic of cultural shift

With the barriers to entry for new food and beverage concepts near zero, the marketplace is awash in improved ideas touting higher quality ingredients and simple labels to legacy categories . It is a reflection of consumer interest in better-for-you.

So, too, will the desire for more customized solutions gain momentum as it mirrors the consumer’s view that who they are, what they want and their perceived unique needs and preferences.

  • Answering this call will be the next great revolution in food as businesses work to create more options that answer the desire for hyper relevance.

Functional shopping at the store

Increasingly people are shopping for attributes – looking for solutions to the dietary challenges they face. Food retail today doesn’t offer much help in this context. Online searches for energy solutions doesn’t necessarily serve up a relevant menu of alternatives.

Personalization and customization reflect a growing interest in finding answers. Label Insight has landed on this and is working to provide digital platform solutions that enable food retail shoppers to search by attribute, especially important when faced with a store environment of thousands of SKUs. What’s in the health and wellness aisle when options in this area become more pervasive across the entire store?

The consumer’s move towards hyper relevant food is a huge consideration for brands related to what’s in the wings for product improvements and formulations. You can’t make these assessments from a distance. Consumer insight research, more than ever, is required to best determine the pace of this evolution and how the consumer considers this from a product attribute and shopping perspective.

Consumer-centricity is the path to your success

  • The consumer has to be at the center of strategic planning
  • Assessments of how consumers see personalization requires getting close-in on their needs
  • Retailers should then support how consumers want to shop for foods with various health & wellness attributes
  • Retail shopping experience matters more than ever, and these insights can help create that roadmap

Insight and Emergent

Your goal is to build relevancy in an era of constant and rapid change, where cultural shifts are redefining the business based on the consumer’s desire for personalized food solutions.

We help clients with this form of discovery research, and then help build strategic plans to translate insight into an innovation and marketing communications game plan.

Want to know more? Let’s talk.

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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 [email protected] and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

mobile grocery order

The Real-Food Uprising

June 6th, 2017 Posted by food experiences, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Healthy Living, shopper behavior, shopper experience, Uncategorized 0 comments on “The Real-Food Uprising”

Re-making the food and beverage business landscape

The single most important and disruptive change in food culture, now winding its way through virtually every part of the industry, is the overwhelming desire for fresh foods.

Call it the quest for all-things real. Fresh is defined as unprocessed, simple ingredients and often refrigerated. Fresh also conveys to consumers higher perceived quality, better taste and healthier. And so the packaged food world finds itself facing a state of transition as fresh versions overtake and replace their processed cousins.

consumers values impacting the food landscape

A.T. Kearney/Hartman Group study “Is Big Food in Trouble?” tracks growth of fresh trend as the dominant shift in consumer preference.

Why are meal kit solutions taking off so rapidly? Because they fit with fresh – offering real food ingredients already portioned and curated for menu creation. The meal kit is a form of convenience and taste adventure that connects to the consumer’s desire for experimentation. Thus, meal kits sit squarely on cultural relevance driving the fresher, higher-quality ingredients business.

Fresh fuels grocerants and more interesting prepared foods

The emerging fast casual restaurant sector is symptomatic of the fresh revolution and move beyond fast, cheap and common foods that have dominated the QSR category for decades. Fast casual’s emphasis on open production, customizable, made-to-order foods using fresh ingredients is relevant and in sync with consumers’ interests for higher-quality, healthier food experiences.

Grocerant strategies: all of this should instigate change at food retail to elevate Deli menus, think creatively about prepared foods sold for take-out, and improve in-store dining experiences.

Fresh food implications for retailers –

1. Investment in culinary-trained commissary staff and fine dining experienced chefs in leadership positions (Chief Culinary Officer).

2. Open kitchens and preparation spaces to show ingredients and allow for customizing menu items.

3. Reworking Deli menus to add more creative, global influences to prepared food options, beyond the comfort staples like meatloaf and rotisserie chicken.

4. Creating improved in-store signage and merchandising that will alert shoppers to fresh, in-season, locally sourced products.

5. Building content and storytelling around locally-sourced ingredients, farmer profiles, as well as tangible investments in local agriculture.

6. Cooking classes to inspire improvements in culinary skills and adoption of chef techniques for the home kitchen.

7. Better designs and environment for dine-in spaces inside food retail.

E-commerce traction and influence on fresh

There are those who simply love and enjoy food shopping – call it a sort of culinary catharsis – and want to visually experience the fresh options arrayed in front of them. Shopping at the store is, for some people, a type of food religion observed with regularity. For others, convenience must address the demands of busy lifestyle where online ordering is a valued (even required) option.

Mobile-based ordering platforms – in web and app form – are not peripheral but rather integral to the food retail eco-system. We believe e-commerce will be a factor in fresh product sales. Increasingly, consumers are getting used to the process as orders continue to meet and exceed their quality and freshness expectations.

Where the e-commerce play becomes a real exciting opportunity is when local sourcing can be woven together with digital ordering and delivery – such that time between farm and dinner table is shortened considerably.

As digital sophistication increases, another game changer would be the ability to solve and resolve last-minute ingredient or recipe needs (where rapid ordering and delivery is required).

Fresh and healthier

There is no other consideration more relevant, important and powerful than the groundswell towards healthier lifestyle. While healthy food was at one time attached to diet products, the meaning has changed considerably.

Foods made from simple and less-processed ingredients continue to gain traction, while better-for-you snacks are encroaching on more indulgent rivals.

Insight: we are moving from a production-fueled system to a demand-driven system, founded on the consumer’s interest in real foods and a parallel desire to know more about ingredients, sourcing, transparency, and sustainability.

For strategic planning purposes, food retail and food brands should look hard at the following consumer cues for guidance to what matters on the demand side:

  • Fresh, real
  • Health
  • Higher quality
  • Discovery and experimentation
  • Kitchen creativity
  • Indulgent reward

How brands and retailers respond now will have great bearing on their relevance and success later on.

Emergent’s strategic planning capabilities are designed around this agenda: marry insight to optimizing growth strategies and translating this work to more effective communication.

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.

Part 1 of The Emerging Brand Marketers’ Playbook: Product Experience Over Brand

March 15th, 2017 Posted by Food Trend, Retail brand building, retail brand relevance, shopper behavior, shopper experience 0 comments on “Part 1 of The Emerging Brand Marketers’ Playbook: Product Experience Over Brand”

The New Rules for Building New Food and Beverage Businesses

Emerging brands operate differently than legacy businesses. The path to market, to consumer interest and traction, is simply not the same as products with an established franchise in a category with deep roots.

The emerging brand playbook is governed by a distinctive rule of engagement – one that reflects a shift in consumer food culture to place greater stock in product experience over marketing and messaging wizardry fueled by tonnage of media spend.

Message to entrepreneurs who create new brands and large food companies seeking to acquire and scale them: put the traditional brand marketing game plan aside. Different rules prevail.

What’s driving the importance of this conversation now?

We are in the midst of a tectonic shift in the food and beverage business, favoring the growth and development of new independent brands that create their own distinctive categories.

The top 25 food manufacturers in the U.S. lost 300 basis points to small and medium sized players from 2011 to 2015. At the same time top line revenue growth for the nation’s largest food companies has slowed to 1.8 percent while smaller organizations have been gaining sales ground at an 11 to 15 percent clip over the same period. (Source: Hartman Group)

What’s going on here? Food culture shifts have run roughshod over businesses that at one time were stars in the food popularity contest – and rendered them less so. While new brands that integrate higher quality ingredients with deeper meaning and values, now take the lead in relevance to consumer desires. The consumer is clamoring for more unique, healthful, higher quality food experiences.

As a result, the largest food companies seek to buy their way in to this sea change through strategic investments and acquisitions. The equity investment market for emerging food companies is robust as innovative disruptors move into fresh and packaged categories with new and adventurous solutions-with-an-ethos.

These emerging brands live and grow by different imperatives than the ones generally thought to govern best practices in the CPG world. For the last 50 years, the brand-building rulebook has directed much of the thinking on marketing and communication: focused on creating equity and value in the brand.

But this emerging business world is much different and requires a fresh approach that is mindful of how early adopter consumers seek out and become fans and followers of these rising star foods and beverages.

Primacy of Product Experience

Which comes first, brand or product? In the brave new world of nascent foods and beverages, it is the fundamental design of these products that imbues them with uniqueness and differentiation to the established, mainstream stalwarts. And it is this specialness in experience that puts momentum under their sales and adoption.

Says the Hartman Group in their study on early, middle and late stage brand development: “Food culture has the knack for magnetically extracting the most unique and engaging food experiences from the clutter on the (store) shelf.”

This helps explain why emerging food and beverages that suffer from low to nearly no brand awareness thrive through their natural allure. The explanation for this is their systemic, beautifully curated connection to health and hedonic (indulgence) ideals and symbols now thriving in our food culture.

Beanitos – a cultural cue connection

In the packaged snack category Beanitos connects to emerging cultural preferences for nutrient and protein dense options. In this instance it’s the alternate carb base – beans – that forms the basis for its relevance and uniqueness. The symbolism creates its attraction: for smart, clever salty snackers.

The Three Rules of Emerging Food Brands

Rule #1 – Product Symbolism. It is the heart and soul of an emerging brand identity. The successful ones will connect directly, seamlessly with an up-and-coming insight into evolving food culture. Click here for our recent forecast on eight food culture trends impacting the growth of food and beverage businesses.

Rule #2 – The Importance of Channel. Natural and specialty retail serve as incubators for these developing stars. Consumers shopping higher-end retail are already on the hunt for truly differentiated experiences. They bring a more informed approach to food exploration. Simply said, these shoppers EXPECT to encounter interesting, new products.

Word to food retail: be the champion of these new experiences, and let food adventure inhabit your aisles.

Rule #3 – Product-Focused Communication. You are working to build awareness of a differentiated product experience. Sensory trumps brand. The focus is on product news and backstory – ingredients, sourcing, recipe and mission/beliefs.

Learn more by reading Part 2 of The Emerging Brand Marketers’ Playbook.

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.

yogurt protein bowl

Votes Are In: Americans Now Snack With Purpose

November 8th, 2016 Posted by Healthier habits, Healthy Living, shopper behavior 0 comments on “Votes Are In: Americans Now Snack With Purpose”

Health and culinary culture influences choices

Once upon a time snacking might have been a bag of chips, tub cheese and crackers, or a box of raisins – and consumed primarily in between formal meals.

Snack occasion growth has accelerated to a point where it is no longer a unique event and changed into a form of continuous eating behavior – mostly hand-held mini-meals. Driving this development is a shift from scheduling around meal periods to eating around schedules.

A recent study of Millennial preferences from the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), pegged the importance of meal portability, finding:

  • 6 percent of Millennials do not have a set schedule for meals
  • 3 percent eat on the run, and
  • 7 percent work and eat at the same time

Separately, a February 2016 report from The Hartman Group stated, “Snacks can be anywhere and anything, and are playing an increasingly diverse role in people’s food lives and food culture.”

That same report confirmed 80 percent of all snacking is ‘purposeful’ – answering specific desires for physical fuel ups, emotional comfort, flavor experimentation and helping enable social connections.

It should be noted, there’s an ‘influence’ factor at work here: health and nutrition experts weigh in to observe that eating smaller meals more often is just better for your health generally.

Snack Diversity is Building

Meantime the nation’s palate has also shifted to preference for higher quality food experiences. We’ve characterized this in previous posts as the “Foodie-ization of America.” It seems only logical that snacking would elevate alongside these changes, whether it is to healthier choices or epicurean adventures.

  1. The cheese industry has taken notice of this change in snacking behavior. Our client, Schuman Cheese, continues expansion of its unique and flavor-dense Cello® Whisps – a line of clean-ingredient, savory Parmesan crisp snacks. Sargento enhances the dairy aisle with combinations of dried fruit, nuts and cheeses in the new and price friendly Balanced Breaks line.
  1. New entries permeate the chip category. Way Better® Snacks pioneers an evolution in bagged options, made with better-for-you sprouted grains. While Beanitos® creates a flavor-diverse line of chips derived from GMO-free beans.
  1. A dizzying array of new protein players like EPIC®, KRAVE® and New Primal are accelerating growth of paleo-friendly meat bars and jerky products – with exotic flavor combinations (while eliminating of some of the egregious preservative ingredients).
  1. Yogurt continues its meteoric rise as multi-benefit snack option, meal replacement, recipe ingredient, protein source and pro-biotic solution. Noosa® caters to the indulgent segment, while new players like Blue Hill offer savory versions, Fage® Crossovers with chef-inspired flavors and nut pairings, and Chobani® continues to steamroll through virtually every sector.

Culinary Inspiration – Hillshire®

A leading indicator of the interest in higher quality choices is Hillshire Snacking’s new self-characterized “Fancy Snacking” Small Plates line of cheese, meats, crisps, nuts and dried fruits.

Interesting taste combinations like Tuscan Flair and Latin Fiesta are presented in portioned trays that allow the consumer to customize amounts of each item for the perfect bite. The product rolls up convenience, portion control, elevated quality and unique pairings into one experience.

We predict this could be a home run for Hillshire as it is on point with food culture changes now driving growth categories in food and beverage.

Where is retail strategy in the snack juggernaut?

We continue to believe snacking is such a significant and important behavior, representing an expanding arena for innovation, that it deserves more consideration at retail as a specific shopping destination – beyond the existing chip aisle.

Why not make the shopping experience more of an adventure while acknowledging that snack is no longer a confined occasion, by creating centers at retail where various forms and types can be merchandised collectively. Doing this takes friction out of the shopping experience and, we believe, will help increase sales in this accelerating business.

Guidance: the PLMA report also revealed the importance of healthier choice to Millennials stating 78.7 percent are interested in healthy options, 77.9 percent care about the nutritional value of food, and 73.9 percent read nutrition labels.

Snacking behavior is a cultural condition that will continue to attract new solutions and innovation in our increasingly mobile, portable lifestyles.

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.


True Cheese Trust Mark Signals Change in Brand Marketing

November 4th, 2016 Posted by brand marketing, shopper behavior, Uncategorized 0 comments on “True Cheese Trust Mark Signals Change in Brand Marketing”

Quality and craftsmanship has a new form of expression

Fairfield, New Jersey-based Schuman Cheese, a market share leader in the U.S. Italian cheese business, recently announced the cheese industry’s first product trust mark – True Cheese®. It is intended to provide validation and verification that products bearing the seal are true, real and correctly labeled.

Full disclosure: We represent Schuman and played a role in developing this program.

The True Cheese trust mark

The backstory here is important: The Italian cheese category in the U.S. has been rife with adulterated and mislabeled products for decades. Operating behind a curtain, economically motivated food fraud has existed primarily because more profit can be extracted by diluting (and then misrepresenting) the quality of ingredients. This practice is followed by some less principled players despite the fact the entire process is illegal. What’s labeled “Parmesan cheese” in some cases just isn’t.

It is indeed a rare thing when a leading company jumps into this arena to address a well-established form of misbehavior. Schuman is an exceptionally principled organization run by a passionate CEO in Neal Schuman, who sees the existence of adulteration as a bona fide blight on quality perceptions of the category they lead.

There’s a new sheriff in town: the mindful consumer

So yes, True Cheese represents a verification of products displaying the mark that, indeed, they are correctly made, using the right ingredients and properly labeled – validated by an outside third party testing organization (Covance Food Solutions).

That said there’s another very important story at work here…

Millennial consumers, 90 million strong, are exercising their strength and numbers in new and interesting ways in the food industry. They are helping usher in a new era in food brand marketing shaped by different perceptions and values, and driven by new behaviors in purchase motivation.

For decades food brands went to market believing taste, price and convenience messages were the only real motivating purchase drivers. A comprehensive consumer study announced earlier this year by Deloitte and the Food Marketing Institute, documented for the first time considerations such as safety, transparency, social impact and health and wellness are taking the lead in food purchases.

Numerous ethnographic studies released over the last three years by The Hartman Group, show a seismic shift in the population across all age and economic segments, towards preference for higher quality, responsibly made and authentic food experiences.

This is the age of the mindful consumer. They look just as hard at a company’s beliefs and visibility to their supply chain, as they do to label integrity, and sustainability claims. They are quite capable of quickly separating self-reverential statements of taste superiority from legitimate proof points of what goes into the product and how its produced (having something quite important to do with aforementioned quality expectations).

So now, True Cheese becomes a new way to step into a more reasoned and “mindful” conversation about quality and craftsmanship. Proof the product was made with the right ingredients. Proof it is actually Parmesan and not a cheap imitator. Moreover, it’s a gateway to conveying the quality of the milk used, as well as the practices and standards followed at the dairy farm, and a commitment to integrity and tradition in cheese making.

Served up in a manner both relevant to and appropriate for a consumer who is actually interested, engaged and cares about these very things.

What’s at stake here is trust, the most important and occasionally overlooked often under-played component of achieving brand traction and growth. This is especially important in an era when consumers are in complete control of any brand relationship.

Achieving trust is not easy when reports of integrity violations hit the headlines routinely in nearly every aspect of life. People want to believe. They also want to know WHY they should believe.

Thus, a trust mark isn’t merely about assurance, it is also about how to separate and elevate a brand by verifying the story that sits underneath its creation.

Products from one brand to the next may follow similar processes and approaches to how things are made. Technology superiority is both hard to achieve and nearly impossible to sustain. But brand integrity and communication are own-able – in part because it is a mirror held up closely to the values and beliefs of the organization that espouses it.

The world is hungry for this kind of reassurance. True Cheese helps usher in a new conversation.

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.

What's for dinner?

Spontaneous Eating May Redefine Food Industry

July 15th, 2016 Posted by Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Spontaneous Eating May Redefine Food Industry”
Are you ready to take advantage of ‘right now’ behaviors?

At Emergent, we’re constantly watching and observing behavioral shifts and trend changes that impact the food and beverage business. Case in point: Last-minute meals – not as a tangential or peripheral condition, but a pervasive change as people increasingly act on impulse.