New 2015 Dietary Guidelines offer a huge marketing opportunity.

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Savvy food and beverage marketers are not wasting any time in reviewing the new 2015 Dietary Guidelines and looking for ways to incorporate the recommendations into their marketing efforts. One of the biggest opportunities is to help consumers understand the recommendations, which are presented online in a format that is not easy for consumers to navigate. The Departments of Agriculture, and Health and Human Services have stated that the guidelines were written for and intended to be used by nutrition and healthcare experts as well as policymakers.

Food and beverage marketers can help fill the information gap by helping consumers make healthier food choices that reflect the new guidelines. For example, the new guidelines define three healthy dietary patterns:  a healthy American diet, the Mediterranean diet, and a vegetarian diet. However, there is very little detail on specific meal plans and recipes to achieve any of the three dietary patterns. Marketers have a tremendous opportunity to fill in the blanks with product information, recipes, and menu plans that incorporate their brands and products.

For some food marketers, there may be opportunities to expand the utility of their products by suggesting uses and ingredient swaps that make a recipe more nutritious. Helping consumers be more creative in food preparation and to think of products in ways beyond their traditional recipe or consumption pattern, are great ways to reposition products and expand markets.

Changes in packaging design and messaging should also be considered in view of the new Dietary Guidelines. Consumers will be looking for cues on product packages to help them choose products that fit within the healthier dietary plans they may choose to follow. Food marketers may also want to consider packaging that responds to 2015 Dietary Guidelines serving size suggestions, either by offering single serve options or easier to reseal and store packaging.

Go here to see the 2015 Dietary Guidelines: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

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What’s on your branding and marketing checklist for 2016?

Branding and marketing planning 2016

With 2016 fast approaching, now is the time for food marketers to look at their branding and marketing initiatives, and make plans. Here is a checklist to help you get started:

1. Branding:  If you’re considering a rebranding or brand refresh effort, planning to introduce new brands or product lines, or extensions to any existing product lines 2016, it’s time to get started on brand assessment and definition, name development, and brand logo design. When developing new brands, keep in mind the lead time for doing brand name/trademark searches, and registration processes/procedures. 

2. Photography:  Do you have product photography that needs to be done, such as recipe, serving suggestion, or package photos? Do your existing photos look dated? Now’s the time to evaluate your photography needs for 2016 and plan/schedule important photoshoots.

3. Packaging:  Product repositioning or rebranding, new packaging sizes and configurations, eco-friendly packaging materials, adding newly defined front of package nutritional information, or just reducing the sheer volume of packaging materials are all important reasons to update your packaging for 2016. For new packaging, including new packaging configurations, keep in mind that extensive lead times may be required for planning, fabrication, and printing of new packaging.

4. Website:  If your website has not been updated in the last year or more, it’s definitely time to revisit the content, features, functions, social media integration, and search engine optimization for the site. Whether you’re starting from scratch with a brand new website, or updating an existing one, don’t start another year with a site that has an outdated look, is not in a responsive design platform/architecture, has outdated product information, broken links, missing social media and other interactive marketing tools/channels, and other problems. Make 2016 the year you invest in updating, improving, adding responsive and interactive capabilities, along with optimizing and promoting your website to increase exposure and traffic.

5. Online Media:  If you’re not already taking advantage of all of the promotional, advertising, and marketing opportunities available online, make 2016 the year you explore and invest in online media channels such as social media, blogging, and online advertising campaigns to generate engagement between your company, brands, and products, and your target audiences, both trade and consumer. If you’re already engaging in online media, make this the year that you improve upon those efforts by adopting and utilizing the latest channels and technologies.

6. Email:  Every day over 294 billion emails are sent, and recent surveys indicate that 65% of B2B buyers are influenced by emails that shape their perspectives of companies and brands. A well-designed email campaign should be part of every marketing program in 2016 because it can be a targeted, personalized, and cost-effective means to reach customers and prospects alike .

7. POS/POP:  Product sheets, brochures, catalogs, recipe cards, IRC programs/coupons, POP signage/displays…these are the basic workhorses of food and beverage product sales, marketing, and promotional efforts. Get started now in developing or updating these items for 2016.

8. Tradeshows:  If you’re reviewing your tradeshow schedule for 2016, or have already made exhibit and travel commitments, are you ready for “show time”? Is it time for a new tradeshow booth, or a design refresh to your existing exhibit? How about updates to the graphics, photos, and messaging? Do you have new brands, products, line extensions, or services to promote that should be incorporated into your tradeshow exhibit and marketing? In addition to the actual exhibit, there are other tradeshow related items to consider such as new product/sales sheets, pre-show promotional and marketing communications such as exhibitor announcement/invitation emailers, and post-show follow-up emailers…all of these things will help make the 2016 tradeshow season more successful.

Let the food industry specialists at Taste Advertising, Branding, Packaging help you get started on developing your 2016 branding and marketing efforts now. Contact Taste today to schedule a complimentary phone consultation to discuss your needs.

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Consumers are redefining snack foods. How can food marketers tap into this trend?

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Over 50% of adults claim to consume snacks 2-3 times a day between meals, according to a recent study by Lightspeed GM/Mintel, January, 2015. Millennials snack the most with 24% claiming to snack 4+ times a day, but over 50% of boomers are snacking at least 2-3 times a day.  Consumers worldwide spent upwards of $375 billion on snack foods in 2014. To tap into the snacking trend, food marketers need to rethink their products, packaging, and positioning because consumers have greatly expanded their definitions of snack food beyond traditional sweet and salty treats.

The primary drivers of snacking are convenience, taste and flavor, and better-for-you foods. Food products that are able to appeal to these motivators are in a game-changing position in terms of expanding demand for their products. The keys are packaging and positioning.

Today’s consumers are very concerned with the quality of the snacks they consume and their tastes have become more sophisticated. Snack foods need to offer flavor varieties, and creative flavor and texture combinations. In terms of packaging, this may mean pairing separate ingredients that consumers combine themselves, all in convenient grab-and-go packaging. A recent entry into this category is a yogurt product combined with granola in a single serve package that consumers easily combine themselves.

Single serve fresh produce items have been on the market for some time, but we’re beginning to see more “combo” snacks with produce, dips, cheese, and even protein. These mini-meals are totally portable, easy to open, and convenient to consume. Functional and creative snack packaging, along with product positioning, can transform products in many food categories into snack foods.

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Food trends. What’s in store for 2016?

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Many global food and beverage trends are already changing consumers’ perspectives, and that will only intensify as we enter 2016. Here a few of these trends and the opportunities they present to food and beverage marketers.

  1. Looks good enough to share: Food focused media has provided the conduit for visually sharing one’s food creations, particularly among millennials. This often includes brand specific ingredient mentions and comments.
  2. Fat loses some of its stigma: Consumers have become more informed about good fats versus bad fats and are no longer avoiding all fats. They’re reading food product labels and choosing wisely.
  3. Food as health and beauty products: Consumers have a growing awareness of the relationship of food to how one looks and feels. They are looking for more functional foods and beverages enhanced with nutraceuticals such as probiotics and collagen.
  4. Eating solo is ok: Across all demographics, more consumers are experiencing more occasions to dine alone. They are looking for appealing food products and meal kits sized for single diners.
  5. Sports nutrition works out for everyone: Consumers are becoming more active, at all age and fitness levels. They want to fuel their bodies for their individual performance levels with appropriately formulated sports nutrition products.
  6. Product claims under fire: Consumers are scrutinizing product claims at unprecedented levels. They are reading food product labels more frequently and asking more questions. Nutrition facts and brand stories on packaging are becoming a primary source of information for consumers.
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Where is food and beverage packaging heading?

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Significant changes in consumer demographics, eating habits, and lifestyles are creating opportunities for food and beverage marketers through creative new packaging. Packaged Facts recently released report “Food and Beverage Packaging Innovation in the US: Consumer Perspectives” reveals seismic shifts in population distribution with fewer married households and more single individual households, as well as smaller overall household size, and multi-generational households. As a result, household dynamics and eating patterns are changing, many households now have multi-shoppers, more meals are being consumed alone, and there is more frequent snacking.

Food marketers can capitalize on these shifts by offering more products with targeted packaging. Here are the five key trends identified by Packaged Facts that are driving innovation in food and beverage packaging:

Millennials: This is the largest growing demographic group and on the surface may appear to be a very broad target. However, several studies have highlighted trends that separate this consumer group from others. In numerous studies, millennials have expressed a preference for fresh, less processed foods as evidenced by their preference for fast-casual restaurants that serve freshly prepared items. They also more frequently shop store perimeters for fresh, non-processed food items.

Smaller package options: With shrinking household size, one- and two-person households now represent over 60% of all US households, there is a burgeoning demand for single-serve and two-serving packaging. Meals for two, multi-packs of single-serve portions, and resealable packaging along with smaller retail formats are driving this trend.

Convenience packaging:  Convenience in packaging is a strong determinant in product selection by consumers. Packaging that features easy opening and closing, portability, no-mess dispensing, and lighter weight packaging materials all present opportunities for brand owners to distinguish themselves among their competitors.

Product visibility:  Consumers have expressed an overwhelming desire for see-through packaging or packaging with windows. Packaging transparency, visually and figuratively, responds to consumer preferences to see the products they are purchasing as well as understanding how their food and beverages are produced.  Savvy brands are transparent in their disclosures of ingredients, sourcing, and business practices, and consumers are rewarding them with trust and brand loyalty.

Eco-responsible packaging:  Consumers, particularly millennials, are becoming more responsible personally about their environmental footprint and the waste they generate through food and beverage packaging. The single-serve bottled water as well as the single-cup/pod brew product categories have been somewhat punished by consumers because of the packaging waste these products generate. Consumers are actively looking for products with more sustainable packaging and recyclable  packaging materials.

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Consumers really do look at nutrition facts…when they’re on the front-of-pack.

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An interesting study published in “Public Health Nutrition” appears to support a move to mandatory front-of-pack (FOP) nutrition facts. The UK, US, and Australasia are all grappling with this issue which motivated researchers at the University of Otago, New Zealand to study the impact of existing nutrition labels. They asked study participants to relate the effect that a “percentage of daily intake” label and a hybrid “traffic light” label would have on their intention to buy branded cereal products. The findings are enlightening to food and beverage marketers.

1. Purchase Intention: Study participants did notice and read the FOP nutrition labels, and it did significantly increase their intention to purchase a product.

2. FOP Label Content: The FOP label content did not influence the purchase intention to any significant degree, in that the nutritional values of the product were not really evaluated by the study participants. They were simply influenced by the presence of the information.

3. The Disconnect: One of the biggest arguments in favor of FOP labels is that it would help consumers learn what is in the food they are consuming and that they will make healthier choices if the information is more readily visible at the shelf level. The study participants overwhelming ignored the nutritional values in choosing one study product over the other, and instead were influenced most the availability of information.

This study suggests that there may be a marketing advantage to FOP labels. However, it also strongly suggests the need for more consumer education on understanding nutrition labels and making healthier food choices.

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American consumers food habits are changing…here are the trends to watch.

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American consumers, households, eating, and food shopping habits are changing. According to the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), food marketers may be behind the curve and need to play catch-up. Here are ten trends that FMI has identified in its 2015 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends report that may be game changers for food and beverage brands.

1 – LIVING, AND EATING, ALONE: The portion of Americans living alone has almost tripled since 1960, and the 34 million adults living alone now account for more than one quarter of all U.S. households, says the FMI. So more single portions, and fast, fresh, options are a must. Meanwhile, in 2014, 46% of all adult eating occasions took place while the person was alone, says the FMI (quoting Hartman Group data).

2 – ADULTS-ONLY: Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in ‘multi-generational households’ (comprising at least two adult generations. eg. parents and grown-up kids; boomers and elderly parents) has more than doubled since 1980, says the FMI, citing Pew Research Center data.

3 – CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS: In 1960, the vast majority of the U.S. population that was ‘foreign born’ came from Europe (75%), Canada (10%), Latin America (9%), Asia (5%) and somewhere else (1%). In 2010, Europe accounted for just 12%, Canada 2%, Latin America 53%, Asia 28%, and somewhere else 5%, says the FMI (citing U.S. Census Bureau data): “Latino and Asian migrants account for most of today’s foreign-born population, whereas previously the vast majority came from Europe or Canada.”

4 – HELLO BOYS: Women account for 47% of the workforce today vs 38% in 1970 (Bureau of Labor Statistics data). And men, in turn, are assuming a far more significant role in cooking and food shopping, says the FMI. In 2008, 42% of men said they had some involvement in cooking each day vs 29% in 1975. Meanwhile, 73% of men report being responsible for at least half of their household’s shopping, says the FMI, noting that growing numbers of men now describe themselves as ‘primary shoppers’, even in households where women also claim this role. Indeed, there are more adults claiming to be primary shoppers (203 million) than there are households (123 million), notes the FMI.

5 – FOOD ALLERGIES: 12% of households contain people with self-reported food allergies or sensitivities (formally diagnosed or otherwise. Source: 2015 FMI national consumer survey, 2,265 American shoppers).

6 – WANING LOYALTY: Back in 2011, just 2% of consumers said they had no ‘primary grocery store’ (defined as ‘the store at which I spend the most money on groceries’). In 2015, this figure rose to 9%.

7 – MILLENNIALS: 12% of Millennials – vs 5% of Boomers – shopped online for groceries in the past 30 days (source: 2015 FMI national consumer survey, 2,265 American shoppers). Millennials are also most likely to skip breakfast and most likely to consume vegetarian food.

8 – SNACKING… CONTINUOUSLY: Snacks now comprise 50% of all eating occasions, claims the FMI (citing Hartman Group data), with 90% of U.S. consumers snacking multiple times a day, 61% claiming to be actively seeking healthier snacks, and 48% replacing meals with snacks at least 3-4 times a week.

9 – KEEPING IT SIMPLE: There was a sharp rise in the percentage of Americans claiming to look for foods with the shortest list of ingredients; foods that are locally grown or produced; foods that contain only ingredients that I recognize; and foods that are ‘minimally processed’ between 2007 and 2013, says the FMI, citing Hartman Group data.

10 – GO VEGGIE!: 7% of American households contain [self-reported] vegetarians, vegans, or vegetarians and vegans (source: 2015 FMI national consumer survey, 2,265 American shoppers).

Find out more about the FMI report HERE.

© 2015 – William Reed Business Media SAS – All rights reserved.

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Thinking about rebranding? Read this first.

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There may be many reasons for food and beverage marketers to consider a rebranding effort…some of them very good reasons and some of them “not so much”. If there is buzz within your organization about a possible rebrand effort, these tips may help inform the conversation.

What’s driving the conversation?  The first and most obvious question is why do you think a rebranding effort is needed. It’s amazing how many brand owners stumble on this question. The answers often range from “it’s time” to the “new vision” of new leadership.  The answer should lie in an assessment of the brand’s performance over time and its continuing relevance to its target audience. The decision to rebrand should be driven by insights into the brand’s consumers and market conditions.

What needs to be changed? Many brands proceed with changes on the assumption that any change will refresh the brand and energize core consumers. Changes are being driven by internal considerations and may hold little relevance or interest to target audiences. Unless a rebranding effort is undertaken to achieve a specific goal, change for its own sake achieves little.  Worse case, the change may confuse or alienate the brand’s consumer base.

What’s the strategy? Here’s where you really need to roll up your sleeves and dive into the market analysis of your brand. A sound rebranding strategy is built upon an assessment of the need for change, opportunities within the brand’s product category, current consumer trends and tastes, and reasonable, achievable goals. Brand owners can have unreasonable expectations for rebranding when the strategy development process is short-changed.

How’s your timing? Rebranding should only be considered for successful brands that need a refresh to “up their game”. Brands that are in true decline, for any number of reasons, will probably not benefit much from a rebranding effort. Truly declining brands are usually indicative of deeper issues within the business and brand category.

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Where should your food brand logo be headed?

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Food brands should be unique, and reflect the value and performance of the products wearing their moniker. It would seem counter-intuitive, then, to suggest that brands also need to consider trends in visual expression. However, trends in food brand logo design should be considered because they are a reflection of the collective mindset of consumers in current times. Some brand logo design trends should be leveraged and others should probably be ignored when considering how to visually communicate a particular food brand. Here are some current brand identity design trends and how they may influence where your food brand logo should be headed.

Screen Sizes: The size of digital viewing screens have gotten smaller and recent studies have indicated that over 90% of teens access online information exclusively through mobile devices. Food shoppers are also relying more on digital devices in-store to help make purchasing decisions. Brand logo design must account for small screen viewing. Gone are the days when only packaging design, promotional materials, advertising, and large screen reproduction/views of brand logos mattered.

Icons Rule: Due to the digital platforms that we all live on now, icon/symbol language has usurped word language. Food brand logo design needs communicate a brand’s message visually through icons with less support from written words. The upside of this communication trend is that it can cross language barriers, helping to make brand identities truly global. This icon/symbol language will continue to grow, requiring brand identity designers and brand owners to keep abreast of the ever increasing dictionary of icons/symbols.

Responsive Design: Technological innovation, from the wide range of devices and screen sizes to 3D printing capabilities, is driving the need for responsive design. Brand logo design will need to become more flexible and responsive design will become less an exercise in rearranging and rescaling design elements, and more a matter of adding, subtracting, and redesigning elements. This trend is also an important consideration in food brand website development, driving the need for responsive website design.

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Tips for building a great working relationship with your creative partner.

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The beginning of any working relationship is an exciting and somewhat anxious time. This is particularly true for food and beverage marketers as they begin working with a new branding/design/marketing firm or consultant…a new creative partner. Everyone, both clients and creative partners, want to do their best in achieving branding and marketing goals, and building successful brands. Here are some tips to help build great working relationships with your creative partners.

Tip 1: No Secrets.  Transparency is fundamental to a successful working relationship. Clients and creative partners will be working closely together, and for creatives to do their best work, the more they know about their clients’ products, services, and business the more their efforts will closely align with branding and marketing objectives. Even seemingly obscure, minor data can be very insightful during the creative process. Creative partners should always be willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and clients should be confident in sharing any and all information that may be relevant to advancing mutual branding and marketing objectives.

Tip 2: Be Honest. Always be open and honest with your creative partner. Clear the air if there are any creative differences of opinion, and openly share the good and the bad. To develop a strong branding/marketing strategy and creative concepts, all background information about the brand/products should be shared. Any issues that may arise are always easiest to resolve early on in the process so that efforts can be focused on the important tasks.

Tip 3: Ask Questions – a second or third time if needed.  Never shy away from asking the same question more than once. The creative process, marketing speak, IT related items, project stages…all of these invariably generate questions from clients. To build a good working relationship, creative partners need to make sure clients understand the terms and steps that are part of the creative process. A good working relationship is built on asking questions and understanding each other.

Tip 4: Respect One Another. Respect is a two-way street and respectful, solid working relationships generate great creative efforts. The creative process and project timelines can produce stress, but it is important for everyone to remember why they formed the partnership in the first place and respect each others role in meeting the mutually defined objectives.

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