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foodie

Finally Fall

Finally Fall

              Personally, fall is my favorite time of year. It is also the time of year that represents the beginning of end-of-the-year holiday marketing, an extremely important time for brands. This is a time for brands to rethink their strategies and target their audience through the changing season and upcoming holidays. Here are a few examples of creative fall marketing campaigns and why they work.

               Over the past few years, Hershey has come up with Halloween themed marketing campaigns for one of their most popular products, Kit-Kat. Of course this seems like a no-brainer for a candy company, but recently they have taken an edgier approach to marketing this delicious product. In 2016, their Halloween campaign drew people in by emphasizing awkward situations to create comedy. This approach is great because it keeps the viewers entertained and thinking about the product throughout the entire ad. In addition, they have created campaign geared towards Generation Z and Millennials – with Halloween commercials starring Chance the Rapper. The idea to use Chance, a widely popular musician, came to Hershey when they recently learned that much younger generations were the majority of consumers buying the 81-year-old product. Hershey found a way to target a specific audience and use the upcoming season to sell their product and so far it has been a hit.

               Dunkin Donuts is another food brand that is focused on the fall season. For some, fall means cider and changing of the leaves, but Dunkin Donuts knows for their customers fall means pumpkin spice. That’s why this year they based their campaign on releasing their pumpkin coffee earlier than ever. The company has already seen a significant benefit from this, according to CNBC , the company has reported better-than-expected earnings for seven-straight quarters and introducing these limited time products slightly early this season has given them even more of a boost.

               Krispy Kreme, another doughnut brand, has also tapped into the fall spirit but through a different approach. To boost brand awareness and hopefully gain more customers, Krispy Kreme decided to capitalize on daylight savings by coming up with their “Lose An Hour, Gain A Doughnut!” idea. This promotion attempts to thrust the doughnut brand to the front of consumers’ minds while simultaneously easing the effect of losing an hour of the day. Single day promotions might not be the most lucrative of campaigns, but in this case it put people in a good mood and reminded them that Krispy Kreme actually cares about their customers. In fact, these single-day promotions have become a mainstay of Krispy Kreme’s marketing and branding strategy because they are easy to execute and have brought only positive attention to the brand.

               With the start of fall upon us, consumers are looking to be engaged in the season. For brands, it is important to cater to autumn trends that resonate with their audiences whether that is through specific generational targeting, the release of certain fall-themed products, or campaigns that focus on a certain seasonal changes, like daylight savings. So, if brands want to keep consumers happy, they should breathe in the crisp air, and concentrate on the upcoming season. 

Total Eclipse of the Market

Total Eclipse of the Market

               On Monday, millions of Americans stopped what they were doing to go outside and check out the first total solar eclipse since June 1918. This once in a lifetime phenomenon not only had the average citizen excited, but it also acted as a great marketing tool for multiple brands and companies. From original recipes to moon jokes, let’ take a look at the most creative eclipse campaigns.

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               The first campaign that really caught my eye was Corona. Corona teamed up with Cramer-Krasselt, a creative marketing firm, to put out the perfect eclipse package, “The Corona toast kit.” This toast kit came equipped with eclipse glasses, an eclipse countdown clock, and of course a few coronas. Not only was this a cute and fun way to get people excited about Corona and their product, but the box also doubled as a pinhole viewer which made it even more appealing to consumers. They also put up a stop motion video on their Facebook page to explain how to actually create the pinhole viewer, creating more buzz and keeping customers happy. Krispy Kreme, one of America’s favorite donut brands, offered its famous glazed donut in a chocolate shell to mimic the eclipse. This was a cute and fun way to get guests excited about the solar eclipse and get a donut that tasted delicious! Spirit brand Jose Cuervo came up with fun cocktail recipes that they called “Total Especial Eclipse” and “Dark Side of the Sun.” Both cocktails consisted of interesting ingredients that played off of the solar eclipse, for example the Total Especial Eclipse recipe calls for charcoal lemonade to make it darker in color, like the moon eclipsing the sun. Lastly, Cracker Barrel, a chain known for its biscuits, started posting cheeky social posts that were very simple but still effective. For example, one of their posts was of a biscuit blocking out the sun, which they called a “Bisclipse,” providing consumers a quick laugh with their meal.

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               All of these companies found clever ways to market their products while tying in the solar eclipse. Capitalizing on events like the eclipse is an extremely smart way for brands to make themselves known and hopefully gain some more traction and revenue. Consumers all over America were extremely excited about the eclipse so it made perfect sense for marketers to take advantage of it and come up with creative ways to tie in the once in a lifetime phenomenon. Whether it was through giveaways, social posts, or recipes customers couldn’t look away from these brands just like they couldn’t look away from the solar eclipse.

 

Organic Obsessed

Organic Obsessed

               You’re trying to eat healthy, which means choosing plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. As you wander down the aisle at the supermarket you realize there’s another choice to make: should you buy organic? These days, most consumers would answer yes to that question. Despite the heftier price tag, sales of organic food items continues to grow. According to USA Today the sales of organic food is up to 8.4%, hitting a record of 43 billion in 2016 sales.  Another interesting stat about organic food is that most consumers are only concerned with purchasing organic items if they are fruits and vegetables, according to an Organic Industry Survey from 2017, about 40% of all organic food sales were in produce.

               Whether buying organic produce or protein over the past few years, in general, organic food is steadily making its way into consumers shopping carts and staying there. In fact, a Food Dive article stated that 82.3% of the country’s 117 million households contain some sort of organic food. Consumers are not the only ones hopping on the organic bandwagon. Large food manufacturers, like Coca-Cola, are wasting no time getting in on this trend too. For Example, Campbell Soup created an organic baby food line and Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods Markets even has the tech world obsessing over the idea of eating organically. In fact, the General Mills organic products have seen a whopping 350% growth in the last 5 years! With huge companies buying into this trend there is no doubt it is here for the long hall.

               Although this trend is serving well for some, American farmers are having trouble keeping up with the massive increase in demand for organic produce. The process of transitioning produce from non-organic to organic takes about three years, and growing organic food is much more expensive once the transition has happened, causing a massive headache for the farming industry.

               The craziest part about this whole trend is that consumers, myself included, are so obsessed with organic labeled foods because we think they are much healthier, but in reality scientists are not 100% if consuming food that’s never been exposed to pesticides actually has a lasting impact on health! Regardless, with 44% of shoppers willing to pay 20% more for organic ingredients I don’t see why markets, grocers, and restaurants wouldn’t stock their shelves with organic foods.

Meal Service Meltdown?

Meal Service Meltdown?

               I’ll be the first to admit that I am not much of a cook; which is why when my roommate started her subscription at Blue Apron, who according to FoodDive is the leading meal kit service by an estimated 17 percent, I thought it was a genius business venture. Meal kit services are convenient, healthy, and can be more cost effective than going out to dinner every night so why are they not performing as well as expected? And why are we seeing companies like Blue Apron flop when it comes to stocks and IPO’s?

               First of all, what started out as an explosive growing business is now starting to temper. In a CNBC article author Nick Wells states that more than half of meal kit subscribers cancel their subscriptions within the first six months primarily because consumers treat their food service subscriptions a lot like their New Year’s resolution to go to the gym, short lived. In fact, according to a study done by Cardlytics, in 2016 nearly three-quarters of new subscribers gave up on their service within a year. These cancellations are a huge deal for meal service companies like Blue Apron, HelloFresh, and Plated because they tend to give big discounts or freebies to draw customers in in the first place, and when that upfront cost doesn’t actually amount to a real subscription the company is at risk to lose a decent amount of money. Another aspect of the meal service kits that is having a slightly negative effect on the business is price. Yes, meal services are good for consumers (like me) whose first instinct in the kitchen is to leave and go to a restaurant, but for consumers who like to cook it is actually much more cost effective to go out and buy ingredients at a grocery store. According to a CNBC trial run, meal delivery service meals cost about $9.99 to $13.50 a portion; while shopping for the same meal at a grocery store would only cost $3.98 to $11.90. Lastly, with mergers like Amazon and Whole Foods it is really hard to predict what is in store for the future of online groceries and how that will effect meal service companies. Data shows that people who use meal kits also often utilize other on-demand purchasing habits, like Amazon Prime, UberEats, etc. so with the growth of that industry it is safe to predict that smaller independent meal service companies will have to fight to stay alive against giants like Amazon.

               Although the premise of this post focused on why meal service companies are not doing as well as predicted, we should not count them out too quickly. There are still a ton of loyal customers using Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Plated, etc. but if these companies want to stay relevant going forward they are going to have to think outside the box and come up with ways to keep their customer subscription rates up.

For more information on meal delivery services and how they compare check out this article from Reviews.com!

 

Future Foodies of America

Future Foodies of America

A few weeks ago I went to visit two of my friends from college who are now married with a young daughter.  I’ve known them both for many years and one of our shared passions has always been food and cooking. Obviously since having a kid, many things in their life have changed and their apartment has been taken over by baby-phanalia. But, looking around their living room with its mini chrome “play kitchen” (including play fruit and vegetables and pots/pans) and an entire bookshelf dedicated to baby food cookbooks, I could see that their love of food has stayed the same.

The baby food industry has been steadily profitable because, well, people will always have babies. But it’s an industry that’s seen tremendous innovation and growth because of parents’ demands for increased convenience and desire for healthy ingredients. Several years ago Beech-Nut Nutrition, producer of packaged baby food, led a market research study that found that homemade purees (baby food made in people’s own kitchens) accounted for one third of total baby food consumed. Their explanation, according to this NYTimes article, was that baby food available for purchase in grocery stores wasn’t fulfilling parents’ needs so they were taking to making their own. And a recent market analyst by Technavio found that “...there is growing anxiety about the safety of the products consumers use, more so the food they consume. A preference for organic baby products stems from a concern for health and general well-being.” In response to these findings, Beech-Nut revamped their entire line of products to include organic purees and exotic ingredients such as pomegranate and quinoa. As a result of the shift towards organic, wholesome baby products, several new organic-based baby food lines also popped up in the market including Sprout, Ella’s Kitchen, and Plum Organics.

Packaging has also been a huge innovation in the baby food market. Pouches were introduced in the 2000s and have been the biggest driver in increased sales. Quality-wise, the food isn't really that different from the traditional jars but parents love them for the convenience factor. Think about how much easier it is to throw a little plastic pouch in your bag versus a glass jar. And no spoon is needed!

But updated packaging plus organic ingredients equals more expensive so some parents still prefer to create their own at home. And as more and more parents are making their own baby food, several companies have capitalized on this trend by inventing all-in-one baby food machines. Machines like Baby Bullet and Baby Brezza are marketed specifically to new parents and promise to steam/cook and puree ingredients in a minimal amount of time.

I’ve also noticed a really strong preference among my friends who are parents to raise “adventurous eaters.” As a result, parents are trying to introduce exotic flavors to their children when they’re very young. If you look the hundreds of baby food cookbooks, many try to go beyond the standard carrot and apple purees by incorporating unusual fruits or vegetables and several spices. My personal favorite I’ve seen is Little Foodie: Baby Food Recipes for Babies and Toddlers with Taste, which includes recipes for items such as pumpkin and thyme puree and apple, mint, and ricotta puree.

With increasing concerns about farming and produce and our general obsession with food, it’s no surprise that the global baby food market is forecasted to surpass $82 billion by 2022 and see tremendous growth in new products and packaging. I’m constantly shocked by the amount of stuff marketed to new parents and babies but with this predicted revenue growth, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see companies come up with new ways to appeal to new parents’ tastes. Perhaps soon you’ll visit your local grocery store and see an entire line of celebrity-chef inspired purees? Or maybe even a Blue Apron delivery service dedicated to cooking your own baby food?

- Cassie

 

Super Branding

Super Branding

              The New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons are not the only ones gearing up for Super Bowl LI, this NFL Championship game is also extremely important for marketers and brands. With over 100 million viewers each year, having your product in a Super Bowl commercial is a guaranteed (but expensive) way for brands to make themselves known. This year advertisers are thinking outside of the box to keep viewers engaged. As Bruce Lefkowitz, the executive VP of ad sales for Fox Networks Group said, “Companies are rethinking how they can ensure getting attention, and awareness from viewers.”

               Mars, the company behind Snickers and the famous “you’re not you when you’re hungry” slogan, is taking an attention-grabbing risk by filming their commercial live during the third quarter of the football game. Allison Miazga-Bedrick, the Snickers brand director said, “every year we challenge ourselves to find new ways to satisfy our fans hunger for entertainment by delivering something new and breakthrough, and there is no better way than being the first to have a Super Bowl live ad.” Recently, live ads have been gaining traction on many TV channels. For example, in December, during the NBC broadcast of the musical “Hairspray Live” brands like Oreo, Toyota, and Reddi-Wip all used live ads to attract customers. Marketers and Advertisers are using live ads because it is an effective way to draw more attention and capitalize on excitement from TV or Facebook, and anything that happens in real time. This makes the audience feel like they’re not being forced to watch commercials, but are actually part of a captive live experience. In an effort to gain additional awareness and excitement from viewers, Mars is hosting a 36-hour live stream on their website and Facebook page which will begin Thursday before the game. Although not many details have been revealed about the 36-hour live stream, the brand did say that the stream will tie into the commercials western theme and be a fully integrated 360 campaign to reinforce the brand's connection to hunger satisfaction.

               Brands like Mars are working hard to appeal to customers. They are staying on top of the trends by tapping into the growing interest in live streaming, and the Super Bowl is the best platform for them to get in front of the largest number of customers. Hopefully these live ads run smoothly during the game; and more importantly, hopefully the Falcons take down the Patriots, because as attractive as Tom Brady is, I really don’t want to see him take home his fifth Super Bowl title.   

- Kate Moelis

Millennials and Food Trends

Millennials and Food Trends

I always roll my eyes at the word "foodie", mostly because I think the obsession with all things culinary has become so common in our culture that it seems pointless to make it an isolated category. But this great read in the Washington Post really displays the impact food trends have had on "foodies" and millennials. It's not surprising that millennials are the biggest food-obsessed population group (they spend almost $96 billion on food according to this article). But it's particularly interesting to see how food trends break down in terms of gender, location, and race. Brands can certainly benefit from this information as they could a type of food trend to focus in on a specific group of millennials:

Men drinking craft beer, women eating quinoa, and other millennial foodie trends, ranked - The Washington Post, by: Rachel Premack