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Frito-Lay is Changing the World of Business for The Better with Ciara Dilley, Frito Lay

Gooder Podcast featuring Ciara Dilley

Those of us outside the walls of Frito-Lay have not necessarily considered the brand aligned with natural foods, environmental stewardship, or considered a small business advocate. But little did we all know, that this mammoth tanker of an organization has been quietly growing a passionate army of stewards ready to take on some of businesses biggest issues including healthy food innovation, food instability, small and women-owned business finance and mentoring, environmental stewardship and so much more. The number of business initiatives PepsiCo and Frito-Lay has been developing to make a positive impact in business and the lives of the most marginalized is staggering.

Join Ciara Dilley, VP of Marketing, Transform Brands and Portfolio Innovation for Frito-Lay North America and I, as we discuss how she is harnessing the resources of a multi-national to affect positive change in the food and beverage industries — starting with the Stacy’s Rise Project and venturing into other initiatives. It turns out that Frito-Lay may be becoming the largest Citizen brand in our category, and they’ve got just the right person to lead the way.

When we support women-owned business – the world will become a better place. – Ciara Dilley

In This Episode We Learn:

  • Ciara’s passion for Female Founders and woman-owned business.
  • How she uses Frito-Lay strengths of brand, product, and voice to empower and support female founder brands.
  • The power of Stacy’s Rise Project and WomenMade initiatives.
  • Why Stacy’s Rise Project is bridging the funding gap for female-founded business.
  • How Ciara uses stewardship initiatives to grow employee engagement, retention, and satisfaction.
  • How the impact of the Frito-Lay initiatives complement and supplement the work being done in the Naturals industry.
Gooder Podcast

Frito-Lay is Changing the World of Business for The Better with Ciara Dilley, Frito Lay

About Ciara Dilley:

Ciara Dilley – Vice President of Marketing, Transform Brands and Portfolio Innovation for Frito-Lay North America, leads the company’s ever-evolving and diverse portfolio of Transform Brands – including Stacy’s, SunChips, Smartfood, Popcorners, and Off the Eaten Path. Also overseeing Frito-Lay’s portfolio innovation, Ciara is making it easier than ever for consumers to discover new flavors, ingredients and brands powered by purpose. Ciara also leads our Sustainability agenda, championing our focus on more environmentally friendly packaging solutions.

A seasoned veteran with more than 20 years of industry experience, Ciara’s passion is supporting women, both inside and outside the walls of Frito-Lay. In addition to being personally involved in a number of initiatives that involve coaching and connecting businesswomen, Ciara recently led the launch of WomanMade, a PepsiCo initiative developed to advance female founders in the food and beverage industry through funding and exclusive mentoring opportunities.

Since joining Frito-Lay in February 2019, Ciara has led Stacy’s Rise Project – a flagship grant and mentorship program by the female-founded Stacy’s brand – to flourish as an industry best-in-class initiative, awarding up-and-coming female entrepreneurs with hundreds of thousands of dollars in business grants and providing them with unprecedented access to PepsiCo people and resources to achieve long-term success.

In addition, under Ciara’s leadership, Smartfood popcorn added Smart50 to its lineup – featuring 50 calories or less per cup – and underwent a full brand redesign that involved a complete swipe of its social channels and packaging updates across the entire portfolio.

Prior to joining PepsiCo, Dilley leveraged her experience in communications and innovation to grow major international consumer brands including Diageo, Campbell Soup Company and Kellogg Company.

LinkedIn: Ciara Dilley, https://www.linkedin.com/in/ciara-dilley-305469b/

Media Contact – Frito-Lay Brand Communications: Jen Crichton, jen.crichton@pepsico.com

Show Resources:

Pepsico – An American multinational food, snack and beverage corporation headquartered in Harrison, New York, in the hamlet of Purchase. PepsiCo has interests in the manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of grain-based snack foods, beverages, and other productsFrito-Lay – an American subsidiary of PepsiCo that manufactures, markets, and sells corn chips, potato chips, and other snack foodsStacy’s – Stacy’s Pita Chips is a brand of snack products based in Randolph, Massachusetts, specializing in various flavors of pita chips. Pita chips are slices of pita bread which are baked until crunchy.Stacy’s Rise – Created to help bridge the funding gap for female founders, Stacy’s Rise Project™ has been connecting and empowering women business owners for years. That’s why Stacy’s is sharing our resources with other female-founded businesses like those founded by these 30 women. Support them by adding their products and services to your cart.Pepsico Foundation – As we strive to become a Better company, we are helping nurture that potential all around the world by leading the way toward a more sustainable food system, from investing in sustained nutrition, to promoting safe water access, effective waste management, and women’s empowerment.Kelloggs – An American multinational food manufacturing company headquartered in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States. And the original plant-based well-being company.Greenhouse Accelerator – Support food and beverage entrepreneurs through a collaborative mentor-guided business acceleration program.Hello Alice –  Step-by-step guides, expert resources, and collaborative communities of fellow entrepreneurs to find funding opportunities and experts for small business.The J.E.D.I Collaborative – The OSC² J.E.D.I Collaborative of industry peers and experts is leading this project for the natural products industry to frame the business case for embedding justice, equity, diversity and inclusion into our entire food ecosystem. Our intent is to take a positive, forward look vs. a “fix what’s broken” position. We seek to understand the deeper issues and to devise an outline for the best solutions. We will clarify the systemic issues that require courage and thought leadership and define immediately controllable issues we all can address as an industry and in our day-to-day operations. We will develop a step-by-step approach to serve as a model to facilitate and inspire the industry to commit and take action. We will develop a reporting tool to demonstrate the impact of the project on progress. We believe the benchmark reporting will result in an increase in productivity in an increasingly multicultural marketplace.Untamed by Glennon Doyle – In her most revealing and powerful memoir yet, the activist, speaker, bestselling author, and “patron saint of female empowerment” (People) explores the joy and peace we discover when we stop striving to meet others’ expectations and start trusting the voice deep within us. Untamed shows us how to be brave. As Glennon insists: The braver we are, the luckier we get.The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates -A debut from Melinda Gates, a timely and necessary call to action for women’s empowerment.The Boss Network by Cameka Smith – Our mission is to promote and encourage the small business spirit and professional development of women of color. The BOSS Network is a community of career and entrepreneurial women, who support each other through content, online programs and event-based networking.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Brand Slam Episode 2 – The Life Cycle of Better-For-You Brands

Learn the category audit techniques these leading brands have leveraged to average triple-digit growth.

In this episode of Brand Slam we will cover how better-for-you brands can move from First and Only to Beloved and Dominant.

As covered in David’s book, Beloved and Dominant Brands, the brand ecosystem allows you to develop a realistic, unbiased assessment of your current state and your market opportunities based upon competition, your company culture, and your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. This analysis combined with a deep understanding of the changing nature of consumer preferences provides the platform on which brand strategy is built.

Watch as we host a Q&A with David Lemley, focused on solving a brand’s pain points across the brand ecosystem. Pain points that we have been hearing from the market this year. The tools and tips we will offer will give you insights on the areas of your brand that you can impact immediately, and how to plan for the future.

Brand Slam was created by Retail Voodoo to help CPG entrepreneurs in food, beverage and wellness reduce their struggle with brand growth in the face of Covid-19. Using the auditing process models created by Retail Voodoo to develop Brand Ecosystems, (which we’ve used for some of the world’s most beloved brand and feature in the book Beloved and Dominant Brands,) we uncover key areas that we have seen brand’s struggle at each touchpoint and how to overcome.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Your In-Store Sampling Program is on Hiatus. Now What?

It sounds like the plot of an up-by-the-bootstraps movie: The young entrepreneur creates a food product to address her kid’s nutritional needs; she hands out samples of her energy bar at her local farmers’ market and health foods store, and everyone tells her how great it is. Soon her business takes off, and as it does she’s always there at the market or the store, giving away samples and basking in the favorable comments.

In fact, many natural food and beverage brands share this kind of origin story. The passionate founder-owner takes the role of chief evangelist, bringing the product to the people. These niche brands rely heavily on product trial to drive purchase. Sampling is their primary (or even only) marketing activity.

Sample is a Solid Tactic Until…

For the past six months, we’ve been living a situation where product sampling isn’t possible, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Even Costco had abandoned its weekend sampling program that’s beloved by consumers. (It was returned in a limited capacity in June.) But it isn’t just the COVID-19 pandemic that’s put the kibosh on sampling; it simply isn’t effective or practical as a stand-alone marketing tactic.

If you’ve relied heavily on in-person product giveaways to generate sales, you’re immediately and acutely feeling the loss of this channel. If that’s what you’ve been hanging your hat on … COVID has blown a hole in the heart of your marketing plans.

Sampling is a challenging undertaking even in ordinary circumstances. It seems like an ideal opportunity to introduce new people to your product: They don’t have to pay for it; your brand ambassador gets to share a little sales pitch and hand over a taste and maybe a coupon. In that interaction, the consumer tells the brand rep how great the product is (perhaps she really thinks that, or perhaps she’s just being nice).

But sampling doesn’t create brand affinity; it’s merely a way to initiate trial. You can’t know whether it creates long term fans of the brand. There’s a danger, too, that the conversations that happen in-store create a false sense of success and an inaccurate portrait of your audience. It’s easy to hear positive feedback from consumers who are tasting your product for the first time and extrapolate that into widespread adoption. (Everyone tells us how great it is, so it must be great!) It also exposes the brand to a very narrow set of consumers—people who shop at that market or store or chain—and marketers risk defining the brand’s entire potential audience based on that tiny segment.

What’s more, it’s simply a demonstration of features and benefits. As we know, your brand is not your ingredients or flavor profile or “free-from” position; you have to have a reason for being other than, “We make a really good snack.” Your brand is a promise and the way in which your company keeps it.

Finally, scale presents another challenge. It’s time-intensive to “prep and schlep” those product giveaways, to hire demonstrators, to do those meet-and-greets. If your brand has growth plans, it has to evolve beyond sampling as a marketing avenue and taste as a brand strategy.

Introducing New Consumers to Your Product

If you’ve relied on sampling and now your marketing activities are frozen because you can’t get into stores, or if you’re thinking of adding some kind of sampling program to your 2021 marketing plans, know that there are ways to do it well.

Sampling can be a small-player tactic, but larger brands like our client KIND also use it. When the brand secured funding, the investment came with a caveat that it be used to give away product. That introduced the product to new consumers and helped KIND achieve Beloved & Dominant Brand status.

At this point, let’s differentiate between sampling and giving away product. Sampling means just a bite in a little cup in a store. Giving away means whole product, sealed in its original package, for the consumer to take away. Product giveaway has a longer marketing tail, because the prospect may pocket the product, take it home, engage with the packaging, and consume it later.

Giveaways can happen via various channels, such as a digital coupon for a freebie or a handout at an event or a product mailed to the home (direct mail – remember that?). We have a couple of clients launching new brands and products this year, that require a bit of product education for consumers to understand how the brand fits into their everyday lives. So they’re planning to tip-in a sample of the product into targeted magazines to get it into people’s hands.

It’s harder for perishable items to employ the above sampling/giveaway options. For these brands, we’re seeing an increased interest in partnering with brands like Instacart and participating retailers and even meal delivery apps to include targeted samples into delivery orders. While there have been a few trial iterations of these programs they’re are still a bit fledgling – and we continue to keep our eye on these.

Another tactic worth considering is approaching a key retail partner and getting into their promo calendar. Couponing may seem like quote-unquote a thing of the past, but it still has traction; both online and traditional retailers like Instacart and Kroger hyper-segment their communications and coupons to customers by demographic or shopping habit, so you’ll reach people who are likely to be interested in your product.

It’s worth noting that KIND has a solid brand strategy foundation upon which to layer product giveaways as a marketing approach. Without that, a brand is simply a commodity—and you can’t give away enough product to make consumers fall in love and part with actual dollars.

The ways consumers shop, find new products, and make purchasing decisions are probably going to be upended for some time. If your brand has relied on sampling and has to pivot, or if you’re seeking to increase trial, we can help you reach the right people with the right offering.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
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Food Techs Role in Reinventing the Joy of Everyday Foods with Karen Huh, Joywell Foods

Gooder Podcast with Karen Huh

American’s obsession with health and wellness and grown exponentially over the last few years. And gone are the days of “hippy” organics. The influence of food culture shows and celebrities and San Francisco’s technology industry has collided into a multi-billion-dollar world of better-for-you food and ingredient alternatives. As this part of the food industry grows and consumers continue to push manufacturers and retailers to mitigate impacts on the environment and better our health altogether, food technology is playing a huge role in meeting those needs.

In this episode, Karen Huh, CEO of Joywell Foods, and I cover the gamut of food tech. From fundraising during COVID to consumer adoption and leadership management style, Karen brings her start-up experience and dedication to servant leadership to this exciting (and exploding) category.

In this episode we learn:

  • The Joywell Foods genesis backstory, its mission and long-term plans to reduce refined sugar consumption.
  • Karen’s journey from Starbucks to Bulletproof to Joywell.
  • Who’s open to adopting alternative sweeteners in manufacturing.
  • The importance of developing a consistent brand experience.
  • The impact of food tech on natural and Better-For-Your products.
  • The impact COVID had on investment and capital raises.
  • How fundraising and investment has changed for the food tech and natural food industries in the last 18 months.
  • A little bit about Karen’s personal obsession with RTD’s and who she’s watching.
Gooder Podcast

Food Techs Role in Reinventing the Joy of Everyday Foods with Karen Huh, Joywell Foods

About Karen Huh:

Karen Huh brings a deep background in consumer, brand, and products from 15 years in the food and beverage industry. Prior to Joywell Foods, Karen served as Vice President of Product and Brand Strategy at Bulletproof 360, a food and beverage brand, where she built the consumer strategy and product portfolio to support the Bulletproof lifestyle while scaling teams across R&D, brand, marketing and product development. Prior to Bulletproof, Karen was at Starbucks Coffee Company for nearly 11 years in a wide range of roles including coffee innovation, launch of RTD and packaged coffee in international markets, and the acquisition of Evolution Fresh. Before joining Starbucks, Karen was an investment professional at two tech-focused venture capital firms.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karen-huh-19b5/

Show Resources:

Joywell Foods – A food tech company focused on building new a new and exciting class of foods around the best tasting and healthiest sweeteners in the world.Bulletproof – A lifestyle brand that takes a science-based approach to nutrition and wellness. The original butter coffee brand. Bulletproof makes beverage, snacks and other health brands to help high performers hack their own biology to operate at peak performance.Starbucks – More than just great coffee. Starbucks in an American multinational chain of coffeehouses and roasters reserves headquartered in Seattle, WA. As the world’s largest coffeehouse chain, Starbucks is seen to be the main representation of the United States’ second wave of coffee culture.Whole Foods –  an American multinational supermarket chain headquartered in Austin, Texas, which exclusively sells products free from hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. A USDA Certified Organic grocer in the United States, the chain is popularly known for its organic selections.Beyond Meat – a Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based meat substitutes founded in 2009 by Ethan Brown. The company’s initial products were launched in the United States in 2012. The company has products designed to emulate chicken, beef, and pork sausage.Impossible Foods – A company that develops plant-based substitutes for meat products. Founded in 2011, and headquartered in Redwood City, California, the company’s state aim is to give people the taste and nutritional benefits of meat without the negative health and environmental impacts associated with livestock products.Burger King – An American multinational chain of hamburger fast food restaurants. Headquartered in Miami-Dade County, Florida and founding in 1953 as Insta-Burger King.Tech Crunch – [Article] Alternative protein raises $1.5 Billion in first 7 months of 2020DRY – Welcome to DRY Botanical Bubbly! The non-alcoholic sparkling soda perfect for celebrating any occasion. Enjoyed on the rocks or in your favorite zero-proof cocktail.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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Changing Consumers Behavior Around Happy Hour with Sharelle Klaus, DRY Soda Company

Gooder Podcast with Sharelle Klaus

In our current culture, alcoholic beverages have traditionally been the center of all celebrations. It’s how we wind down our day, relax and give ourselves a moment to rest. That is until now. Generation Z and Millennials are bucking those habits and finding better and healthier ways to relax. Part of it is self-awareness, the ability to recognize when alcohol is a crutch – rather than a treat, and some of it is “I’m not doing what my parents did”. They are normalizing alcohol-free celebrations, getting real about mental health, and creating an inclusive environment for everyone. It’s time for the sober revolution.

Sharelle Klaus and I walk through her journey of self-discovery, and the ins and outs of finding her and her brands true north. We discuss her passion to create inclusive celebrations for all people. And that sometimes, you just have to start all over.

In this episode we learn:

  • Sharelle’s aha moment that turned into DRY.
  • The story of teaming up with Sans Bar.
  • How Millennials and Generation Z are changing our relationship with alcohol consumption.
  • How to educate, socialize, and enroll behavior change for consumers.
  • How “bad news” can be the path to opportunity.
  • To trust your gut, even when you’re the only one in the room that believes it.
Gooder Podcast

Changing Consumers Behavior Around Happy Hour with Sharelle Klaus, DRY Soda Company

About Sharelle Klaus:

Sharelle Klaus is the Founder and CEO of DRY Soda Company  As the visionary behind DRY Soda Company, Sharelle has always had a passion for the culinary world and celebrating each part of a meal – including the beverage. After having four children, she didn’t want to let a lack of wine or cocktails stop her from being a part of the party. Klaus recognized an absence of refreshing, clean, non-alcoholic options in the market, and became determined to create the first line of botanical bubbly that was worthy of meal pairing. She believed savory and sweet flavors more commonly used in cuisine could offer exciting compliments to her favorite meals. In 2005, Klaus crafted the first batches of DRY in her home kitchen and officially launched DRY Soda Co. a few months later.

Klaus brings over two decades of entrepreneurial, financial and technology industry experience to her role as CEO at DRY, and oversees all marketing, strategic planning, and innovation for the brand. With guidance from some of the Pacific Northwest’s best chefs and a savvy corporate team, Klaus pioneered a new category of sparkling beverages, fearlessly leading DRY’s aggressive growth in a male-dominated industry. Prior to founding DRY, Klaus worked as a consultant for Infrastructure Management Group and Price Waterhouse. She also served as president of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, where she drove strategic development of programs, events, and fundraising for the organization’s 250+ Seattle-area members. Klaus has been featured by Huffpost, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Imbibe, and others.  Klaus has also won several honors including, Seattle Business Magazine’s CEO of the year, Puget Sound Business Journal Women of Influence, and PSBJ 40 under 40.

With a keen appreciation for humor and wit, Klaus is an avid supporter of entrepreneurship and frequently speaks at professional conferences, workshops, and the University of Washington Business School, where she also participates as a judge for the Michael G. Foster’s School’s well-known business plan competitions. She is also a board member of the Aliados Foundation that builds resilient community business based on biodiversity in the Andes and the Amazon—and connect them to markets across the globe.  Klaus graduated from Seattle Pacific University with an undergraduate degree in political science and currently resides in Seattle, Wash.

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharelle-klaus-1804078/

Show Resources

DRY – Welcome to DRY Botanical Bubbly! The non-alcoholic sparkling soda perfect for celebrating any occasion. Enjoyed on the rocks or in your favorite zero-proof cocktail.

Sans Bar – We are a growing group of average people who recognize that life can be fun without alcohol.  We are sober, we are on the move, and we believe that real connection happens when people are sober.  We want to create a space that is free of alcohol and welcoming to all.  We believe that the best version of anyone’s life includes healthy socialization, helping others, and taking care of both mind and body.  Sans Bar is composed of people who want to change themselves and the world around them.  We believe positive change can happen in the smallest ways, and still yield a tremendous impact.

This Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom, Discover Happiness & Change Your Life (Book) – offers a new, positive solution. Here, Annie Grace clearly presents the psychological and neurological components of alcohol use based on the latest science, and reveals the cultural, social, and industry factors that support alcohol dependence in all of us.  Packed with surprising insight into the reasons we drink, this book will open your eyes to the startling role of alcohol in our culture, and how the stigma of alcoholism and recovery keeps people from getting the help they need. With Annie’s own extraordinary and candid personal story at its heart, this book is a must-read for anyone who drinks.

BevMo – a privately held corporation based in Concord, California, selling mainly alcoholic beverages.

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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White Paper: DTC for CPG Brands

Why it’s time to use DTC to establish a first-party data strategy to increase your CPG Brands brand’s relevance.

Learn why food, beverage, and wellness brands are rethinking their DTC strategies to include consumer insights. As CPG Businesses have come to DTC marketing’s new frontier many leaders are looking to answer critical questions about their brand’s medium and long term viability. Key business areas of concern include:

  • Lost brand relevance due to marketplace disruption
  • Competitive pricing strategies vs. brand value
  • When the DTC bubble will burst in the new normal brought about by Covid-19

By switching to a brand-driven first-party data strategy, better-for-you brand owners are future-proofing their business and retooling for growth.

Download this white paper to learn how to:

  • Identify entrepreneurial cognitive bias and develop strategies to break out
  • Reduce reliance on pantry stocking and plan for two-way relationships with consumers
  • Reduce the risk of commoditization by leveraging first-party data to elevate brand purpose

Get this exclusive report brought to you by Retail Voodoo, the branding firm that has helped KIND, Essentia, LesserEvil, Wedderspoon, PCC Natural Markets, REI, and Starbucks build brand-driven strategies that create meaningful, sustained growth.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
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White Paper: Navigating Brand Disruption

Covid Series: Vol 01

Why it’s time to develop a brand-driven strategy to future-proof your brand.

Learn why food, beverage, and wellness brands are rethinking their fragmented strategies that hinder their marketplace performance in the face of unexpected disruption.

Businesses who are relying on the four P’s of marketing are especially subject to disruptions in the age of Covid.

By switching to a brand-driven strategy, better-for-you brand owners are future-proofing their business and retooling for growth.

Download this white paper to learn how to:

  • Plan for distribution hiccups and eliminate lost opportunities.
  • Reduce ingredient dependence in favor of brand-driven benefits.
  • Outpace copycat competitors by delivering on brand purpose.
David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

Connect with David
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Natural Food & Beverage Brands: We’ve Got Work to Do

We’ve been percolating on this topic for several weeks now, and we’re guessing that you have, as well. The Black Lives Matter movement is impossible to ignore, and it has raised persistent truths that are uncomfortable to reckon with.

One of those truths is this: Natural food, beverage, and wellness brands — mission-driven brands with aims to improve people and planet — are doing a lousy job serving customers of color.

A recent virtual meeting on “The State and Future of Natural & Organic” presented by New Hope Network and WhipStitch Capital brought to light several trends that have developed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But what caught our eye was two slides citing a bigger, longer-term issue plaguing our category. Slide 40 in the leave-behind deck reads, “We are currently missing the opportunity to serve more diverse consumers,” followed by a subtitle that reads, “Natural and organic consumers are mostly white.”

And the next slide points out the foundational problem: “This is a reflection of our current industry leadership.”

In other words, the natural and organic audience is mostly white not because there are no Black, Indigenous, or people of color out there to buy our products. It’s white because that’s how we market, not because there is no demand.

The lack of diversity in brand leadership has built up over time, and it won’t be resolved overnight. We’re not suggesting that hiring practices alone will pivot natural brands toward more diverse audiences. (Diversity is also a function of product innovation, distribution, pricing, marketing, and other business disciplines.) In fact, our goal with this article is to spark dialog about this issue, not to propose concrete tactics.

Why Natural Brands Aren’t Serving Consumers of Color

Let’s begin by talking about how this institutional bias affects the products we make and the ways in which we talk about our brands.

For naturals brands, marketing is about seeking their tribe: people who buy the product not just because it tastes good (its features and benefits) but because they believe in the mission. They feel the brand supports their lifestyle and self-identity. As brand leaders, though, we assume the tribe looks and thinks like us. That’s always a flaw, and especially so when we’re reaching out to consumers of color.

In the same vein, our industry’s definition of health is inherently white. We prize an aspirational level of fitness, we aim for a certain body type, we idealize Instagram-worthy dewy skin. But consumers of color don’t necessarily share that definition.

Working with actress and influencer Tia Mowry on her new You Are the Anser! brand of supplements was an important educational opportunity for us. Through extensive consumer research and deep-dives with Tia’s team, we gained insight into the community she was seeking to reach. For the Black woman, health and wellness mean that she feels confident and good about herself, not in comparison to others. She has a million other things to focus on in her life and doesn’t care about keeping up with white culture’s definition of fitness or wellness.

The University of San Diego School of Business researcher and associate marketing professor Aarti Ivanic, who studies racial differences and the impact on health and nutrition habits, puts it like this: “When looking at exercise habits, research shows that African Americans see working out in a gym as primarily a ‘white person’ activity. That’s why Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign was great, because she was a role model for minorities and exercise and healthy nutrition was now seen as accessible to everyone, including minorities.”

Better-for-you brands are highly attuned to solving their consumers’ problems. After all, many of these products were developed by a founder who set out to overcome a dietary challenge or meet a lifestyle need. But collectively, we are not actively looking to solve the needs of anyone of color who doesn’t subscribe to the aforementioned definition of “health.” We impose our needs without understanding others’.

What’s more, the naturals industry as a whole defines consumers based on who can afford their values — values that come from a place of privilege. That perspective overlooks a whole other group of consumers who need your organic and natural products that can help them live better lives. Marketers are not talking to them at all; not even looking at what they need (and we’re pretty sure it isn’t a $7 kombucha).

As brand marketers begin to reach out to nonwhite audiences, there’s an initial tendency to be “colorblind.” That’s safe and allows us to feel good about checking boxes. But in fact, all people want to be seen and honored as complex individuals with a culture that makes them special. To deny color because you’re trying not to be racist is a way of perpetuating the bias. A willingness to see and respect color is the first step in creating a community that’s racially diverse.

Greater Diversity Comes through Baby Steps

So how do we begin to reimagine the audiences for our brands?

Here’s what gives us hope: Better-for-you brands are hard-wired to serve. We’re really good at articulating a higher calling and innovating products that improve lives. We’re determined to make the world a better place. We’re also great at educating consumers about how they can be their best selves and why that matters.

When we worked with Tia, her mantra for her customer was, “We see you.” People of color don’t feel seen or spoken to. We’re not even giving them a chance to connect with our brands.

Can we start to observe and understand what a more diverse group of fans might want from our brands? Can we reach out and listen? Can we find greater ways to serve?

It starts from within: The only way to have visibility is to have marketers and innovators in top positions who are people of color, to establish mentoring programs within our companies and across the industry that elevate a new generation of nonwhite leaders.

And it will take hundreds of baby steps to make lasting changes — not just in response to headlines. We have a saying around our office: “An oasis begins with a puddle in the desert, so start spitting!”

We’re ready to get to work. And we want to hear from you about efforts to serve a broader group of consumers. Let’s talk!

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

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The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same with Beth Corbett, RR Donnelley

Gooder Podcast featuring Beth Corbett

Packaging and Supply Chain Trends and Plans: Start planning now!

Beth Corbett is a brand packaging leader who has merged her background in marketing and sales with her passion for cannabis and CBD products to become a leading packaging consultant to this exploding market.

Beth shares her insights on how COVID-19 and international policies are impacting long and short-term issues related to domestic and global sourcing and environmental packaging innovations. She also shares how new technologies not only make a greener supply chain but can enhance consumer, customer and retailer relations.

In this episode you will learn:

  • How transparent communication and sharing of data can strengthen your relationships with retailers.
  • How just-in-time inventory is being redefined.
  • What new technologies in environmental packaging need to be explored further and championed by major brands.
  • How Augmented Reality can build a bridge with consumers when other marketing tactics cannot be used.
  • Why relationships and planning are worth more than money.

Watch Now Below

Gooder Podcast

The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same with Beth Corbett, RR Donnelley

Diana Fryc

For Diana, a fierce determination to pursue what’s right is rooted in her DNA. The daughter of parents who endured unimaginable hardship before emigrating from Eastern Europe to the U.S., she is built for a higher purpose. Starting with an experience working with Jane Goodall to source sustainably made paper, she went on to a career helping Corporate America normalize the use of environmentally responsible products and materials before coming to Retail Voodoo.

Connect with Diana
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7 Things You Should Do Now to Ensure a Successful 2020 for Your Naturals Brand

While we think we’re pretty good at identifying trends and opportunities for our food and beverage clients, we can’t foretell the future with certainty. What we can see, though, is a number of smart strategic steps marketers and leaders of mission-driven food and beverage brands can be doing now to position their businesses to thrive over the rest of this year.

We’ve identified seven strategies aligned around three key positions you can take to ensure success in 2020: stretchinvest, and pivot. You can’t expect to do the same things forever and generate the same business results; that’s doubly true now.

Understand Key Roadblocks to Success in 2020

Before we get to the seven strategies, let’s first put our fingers on the hurdles you’ll inevitably face in leading your organization now.

Fear

We’re not talking just about fear of shutdowns and other risks unique to the current pandemic — rather, cultural and personal fear that always lingers in the background. Brand leaders fear that they won’t meet expectations (of customers, stakeholders, employees) and so they don’t stretch beyond what they know. They fear not just failure, but success. Fear can trickle through an entire organization, leading to a culture of, “we don’t do it that way” or “prove the concept first, then we’ll implement it.”

Safety

Of course, the bottom line is essential; without profitability, you’re out of business. But if you’re focused on preserving market position and minimizing erosion instead of growing, you’re missing opportunity.

TMI

There are too many inputs, too many unknowns, too much conflicting guidance. It’s hard to even trust your gut. TMI makes decision making difficult: which of the conflicting scenarios or forecasts can you believe?

7 Strategies for Food & Beverage Brand Success in 2020

Looking ahead to the end of the year, what are the things you can be doing now to ensure your brand’s good health as the economy emerges from its hibernation?

1) Ask better questions

Revisit the brand’s strategic foundation. What is your brand, really? (We define brand as the promise that you keep and the ways in which you keep it.)

Define where the real boundary is, not just the safe one. You can’t stretch beyond the reality of your brand promise (for example, your vegan brand can’t suddenly start making beef chili), but you can go right up to that frontier.

Ask your team questions like these to identify how far you can move in search of opportunity:

  • What is our brand’s contribution to society? Why do we exist beyond products and profits?
  • How can our brand create value for our community/tribe of followers?
  • What does our brand have permission to do that our community cannot get from other brands?
  • How does our brand evolve from good and services mentality to a citizen brand that provides a unique contribution to society?
  • What are our brand’s core values? (e.g., community, social justice, loyalty, fun)
  • Do our core values align with what we currently contribute?
  • How is our brand willing to change behavior to better emphasize and deliver upon our values?

2) Do your research

You should have pre-existing research — usage & attitude studies, competitive audits, audience segmentation — and that information remains valid. Post-Covid, we’ll get back to that familiar territory. Once the supply chain resumes normal capacity and consumers feel comfortable getting out again, they’ll return to familiar habits. We live in a commerce-driven economy; that hasn’t changed. What we’re seeing now is a situational disruption, not a permanent national disruption.

Ask yourself questions like these:

  • Who else can claim these exact values our brand represents?
  • How are they behaving, taking action, delivering on their promises?
  • What does our brand do that is different or better?
  • Who is our consumer, and what kinds of products can we innovate that will meet their needs?
  • Can we become even more relevant to the people who’ve already chosen our brand? Can we resonate more deeply in their lives?
  • In a sea of sameness, how can we be meaningfully different by tapping into their emotions, not just their functional needs?

3) Stretch thyself

For natural food and beverage brands, stretching is all about determining what’s possible and removing the roadblocks (culture, fear, etc., as discussed above). Stretching is a quest for logical opportunity.

One of the exercises we conduct in client workshops is to have the brand group write a eulogy for the brand. We preface this exercise by a lengthy session that defines the capital-B Brand (the promises you make and the ways you keep them) and then envisions the brand’s future contribution to the world.

We then ask the team to articulate what people will say about the brand when it’s gone. It’s a powerful way to create clarity around the brand’s superpower. (For example Patagonia’s superpower is environmental justice; it enlists fans in the mission.)

Questions to ponder:

  • What is something our brand is not currently doing that only it can do?
  • What does our brand have access to that others don’t? (investors, distribution, ingredients, leadership)
  • What is our brand’s superpower, and how can we use that to contribute to the common good?
  • In what ways could our brand die?
  • Write the eulogy: What will our brand’s legacy be?

4) Go for impact

Aspire to citizen brandhood, not commodity brandhood. As a mission-driven brand, you are a member of the very community you create, a shepherd and a guide and a protector. That role, combined with strong product features and benefits, is unbeatable. Let Maslow’s Pyramid guide you: First meet the consumer’s functional needs, then meet their desire to belong to a community, then appeal to their sense of self, then help them achieve their higher purpose.

Armed with consumer research and your stretch potential, consider:

  • What role does the brand play in our tribe’s lives?
  • How might it be relevant to future consumers, as well?
  • Beyond features and benefits (like minty flavor of toothpaste), what does our brand help people be or achieve (i.e., a wellness-focused lifestyle built on natural products)?
  • What wrong does our brand seek to right in the world? What problem does it solve? What fight does it fight?
  • What’s possible, given our organization’s resources?

5) Craft a better story

Storytelling is the flavor of the month in marketing, and for good reason: People are hardwired for stories. Storytelling is the means of connecting the brand strategy with your target audience. You don’t have a story if your brand doesn’t have a WHY. And you don’t have a story if you don’t know who you’re telling it to.

This is an excellent time to revisit your brand’s narrative and the way you communicate it through the channels of the Brand Ecosystem.

  • How can the brand’s narrative connect our products, company goals and values, ideology, ethos, to our specific community?
  • How should the brand story (or tone of voice) shift in our current climate?
  • Are we telling stories that our fans will be compelled to share?
  • What do we want customers to walk away telling one another?
  • How does our new story relate to the brand’s history?
  • What and how do we want to tell this story?

6) Pivot

Many brands are pivoting in their communication right now, with mixed results. A couple of examples of brands that are getting messaging right in times of crisis: Tide’s
“Loads of Hope” initiative is bringing laundry services to healthcare workers and first responders. And Frito-Lay has shifted from its usual “food for fun times” messaging to run a highly regarded TV spot that talks about how they’re hiring. Brands have passed the “we’re all in this together” messaging and are now focusing on what they are doing to help.

No doubt, brands will need to remain sensitive to their audience’s needs and flexible in tactics through the end of this year. Some things to think about:

  • How are we leveraging social, digital, email, and website messaging to demonstrate empathy and mention how the brand is evolving, helping, contributing?
  • Do we need to talk from a different perspective than we would ordinarily?
  • Are there pillars of our brand platform that are not normally at the forefront but would be relevant to communicate now?
  • If we look at pivoting as on an axis (not a leap forward or sideways), how should we shift?

7) Invest

Two ways to think about investment: opportunistic and short-term; and strategic and long-term.

In the short term, investing might look like one-off activities that support the brand and your messaging strategy. Think about giving product away to people in need: food pantries, school nutrition programs, healthcare workers, social service agencies. Or donating dollars to organizations helping those reeling from the pandemic and its fallout.

On the long-term, strategic side, it’s now time to get serious about innovation. Look at all those initiatives you were thinking about doing but have set aside for a while. Determine where and how your brand has permission to stretch and create an innovation pipeline that will expand your brand’s reach and long-term relevance.

Issues to think about:

  • Is there a piece of equipment we could add to the manufacturing process to upgrade the product? (Something that might, say, take an ice cream bar from One-of-Many product to Beloved & Dominant treat.)
  • While competitors are pulling back, what will our post-Covid campaigns look like?
  • What visual or content assets can we assemble now so we’ll be ready to launch as the time comes?
  • Can we break through barriers in the organization to innovation? What about co-manufacturing? What about investing in higher quality ingredients?
  • Considering our audience, our brand foundation, and our stretch, what products do we need to develop now so they’re ready to go when things get back to normal?

Normal, of course, is a relative term. If you’re looking ahead to the rest of this year and beyond, we can help you find the right kind of opportunity. Let’s connect.

David Lemley

David was two decades into a design career with a wall full of shiny awards and a portfolio of clients including Nordstrom, Starbucks, Nintendo, and REI. His rocket trajectory veered when his oldest child faced a health challenge of indeterminate origin. Hundreds of research hours later, David identified food allergy as the issue and convinced skeptical medical professionals caring for his child. Since that experience, David and Retail Voodoo have been on a mission to create a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable food system for all.

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