This week on The Retail Perch, Gary and Shekar interview Diana Fryc, partner, and chief sales and marketing officer of Retail Voodoo. Diana and her team are dedicated to building, growing, and developing wellness brands and naturals. She shares her passion for naturals as well as her insights into how this category has developed and changed over the years. Diana is also a champion of the women and minorities who were responsible for nurturing natural products in their infancy, but who are now being displaced in some cases.
Gooder Podcast featuring Cynthia Tice
“Better-for-you Foods was here to stay, and more consumers wanted it, but that required education.” – Cynthia Tice
This week on the Gooder Podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Cynthia Tice, the Founder of Lily’s Sweets. We discuss the history of Lily’s Sweets – a leader in the no added sugar movement. We also learn about the history of the naturals industry and some trends that have come up in the natural products industry and Better-For-You brands. Along the way, we learn the extraordinary journey of a passionate leader in finding and building a creative naturals community through Lily’s Sweets.
In this episode we learn:
- The legacy and history of Lily’s Sweets.
- Cynthia’s journey of dispelling myths around using naturals products throughout her career.
- How the pandemic has given consumers a reset moment to reevaluate health and consumption habits.
- The evolvement of the natural products industry and accessibility to naturals/Better-For-You products.
- About Cynthia’s emphasis on leadership, mentorship, and the importance of creating a collaborative culture.
- How a do-it-yourself mentality is a strength and (sometimes) a challenge for entrepreneurs.
- The advice she finds herself consistently giving entrepreneurs who have been approaching a professional transition.
The Evolution of The Natural Products Industry and The Acceleration of Better-For-You Products’ Consumption featuring Cynthia Tice, Lily’s Sweets
About Cynthia Tice:
Cynthia Tice got her start in the natural foods industry before green juice was cool. She opened a natural foods grocery store, Center Foods, in Philadelphia in 1978, and owned and operated that store for 20 years. As supermarkets realized the staying power of natural and organic foods, Tice began consulting retailers on how to launch or build out their natural and organic offerings. She also began advising brands looking to launch natural and organic products. While working with a client who wanted to launch a natural soda, Tice became aware of the opportunity for naturally sweetened, no added sugar foods. This trend was emerging because of growing consumer sentiments to limit sugar, along with all time high levels of distrust of non-nutritive artificial sweeteners.
As a long-time user of stevia, when the ingredient was granted GRAS status in 2008, Tice began experimenting with making chocolate with stevia to satisfy her own need for a no added sugar chocolate (her favorite food) that she could eat daily. In 2011, the recipe was perfected using not only stevia, but also the finest Fair Trade, additive-free, and Non-GMO other ingredients in order to benefit both people and planet. By 2012, Lily’s Sweets was on shelves in Whole Foods stores nationwide. Today, Lily’s Sweets remains a leader in the no added sugar movement through continued innovation, and the company’s chocolates and confections can be found in more than 24,000 stores nationwide. Lily’s Sweets has been recognized by Forbes as a, “mission-driven company reinventing the packaged food industry.”
Cynthia stepped away from the daily running of Lily’s in 2018, and spends her time working with Non-Profits, and mentoring young entrepreneurs. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband, Dennis, of 30+ years, near her parents, her children, and their spouses/partners, and four family dogs!
Guests Social Media Links:
Stevia is a natural sweetener and sugar substitute derived from the leaves of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana, native to Brazil and Paraguay. The active compounds are steviol glycosides, which have 30 to 150 times the sweetness of sugar, are heat-stable, pH-stable, and not fermentable.
Alar Scare – In early 1989, the NRDC released a report on Alar, a chemical used to harvest apples. The report estimated that Alar caused cancer and children were at greater risk.
Mothers & Others, a campaign that rallied concerned citizens who supported NRDC in the fight for tougher pesticide residue standards, standards that—thanks to a law passed 10 years later—would protect particularly vulnerable subpopulations such as infants and young children.
FMI Corporation For over 65 years, FMI has been the leading management consulting and investment banking* firm dedicated exclusively to engineering and construction, infrastructure, and the built environment.
Campaign to label GMOs: Using the hashtag #ConcealOrReveal, the campaign reached over 28 million people through social media. In addition to mobilizing American consumers around GMO labeling, Just Label It! won support from many food companies it targeted.
Wegmans Food Markets, Inc., is a privately held American supermarket chain; it is headquartered in Gates, New York. As of March 2021, Wegmans has 105 stores in the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions.
Acme Markets Inc. is a supermarket chain operating 163 stores throughout Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania and, as of 1999, is a subsidiary of Albertsons, and part of its presence in the Northeast.
VMG is an organization comprised of diverse people and points of view, and we are aligned in our mission to challenge the status quo. We encourage everyone in our ecosystem to cultivate a safe space in your communities and to operate with compassion and empathy.
Maxlove Project is an innovative, parent-driven, volunteer-powered, grassroots nonprofit organization founded to help SuperKids thrive against cancer and related life-threatening illnesses with integrative medicine and “Fierce Foods” anticancer nutrition.
The Family Thrive delivers strategies, tools, and experts that help families create joyful, meaningful, thriving lives.
Right now, in the spring of 2021, we’re at an inflection point: One year ago, the world was in full lockdown and consumers were “hunkered ” at home; one year from now, things will be fully back to business as pre-pandemic.
Over the past 12 months, your company has made shifts large and small in response to rapidly changing consumer habits, supply chain disruption, and retail upheaval. Those pivots were reactive; now is the time to be proactive.
As you create a new future for your food or beverage brand, ask yourself: What from our past can—should—we let go of?
Great Brands Are Built for Evolution
Brand strategy is fundamentally a set of choices and decisions—what purpose to serve, who to sell to, who to ignore, what to make, what to add, what to leave out. Over time, those decisions add up to create the foundation for the brand.
If they’re smart, the approach that brand leaders take to making those decisions changes in response to new market or cultural conditions. And, boy, are we experiencing conditions we’ve never seen before.
Every brand owner needs to rethink what they’ve done in the past and are doing with their brand now, so they’re well positioned for the future. Revisiting brand strategy is critical to both survival and/or capitalizing on untapped opportunity. And at this moment, the brand’s legacy can become both its biggest asset and its most obstructive blind spot.
A brand strategy that starts with people, purpose, and planet, when built well, will be adaptable to massive shifts like the ones we’ve seen in the past 12 months. But brands that stand on legacy product offerings, a culture of “this is how we do things,” and a fixed view of their audience will struggle. They’ll have difficulty recognizing when their ingredient profiles or target consumer or channel strategy need to evolve. They’ll miss opportunities for actionable, effective, radical shifts in brand strategy because they simply can’t see those that lie outside their point of view. They’ll be stuck.
Satisfy Consumers’ Craving for an Exciting New Normal
We predict that the next year will be like rebound dating after a bad breakup. Consumers don’t want to get back to normal; they want to let loose, experiment, expand their horizons.
Consumers are open to trying absolutely anything now; Covid created such disruption that people were eating exclusively at home and had to try new things when their favored brands or products were out of stock. That busted ruts and opened minds. Individuals and households have established new habits and preferences during the pandemic year—family hiking, cooking at home, new favorite snack foods—yet they’re also hungry for even more new experiences. Like, mom cannot make another box of the same macaroni and cheese one. more. time.
We can’t overstate this: Consumers are looking for new and different.
So make it easy for them to find you. Talk to them; the probability of trial is greater than it’s ever been. You don’t have to leave your base, but pitch a bigger tent.
Leverage Operational Changes You’ve Already Made
Over the past 12 months, massive disruption in the supply chain has opened companies’ eyes to different ingredients or production methods or distribution. Can’t get organic dried blueberries? How about organic dried papaya? What about a new tropical flavor profile?
Companies that would have never before thought about operating a certain way or using a different ingredient profile—and are now open to those different options because they’ve had to adapt—are going to be well-positioned.
It’s like sailing to a new beach—you’re still out there on the same body of water and navigating toward dry land; you’re just steering down the coast to a different landing point. Same, but different.
Get Out of Your Own Way
Here’s the biggest challenge, particularly for legacy brands or those that are so organizationally bulky that changing course takes enormous effort: You must find a way to break out of “we’ve always done it this way” and “this who we know our audience is.”
More than ever, making decisions requires keen vision, boldness, and a mindfulness about what must be sacrificed to move into a bigger future. Some questions to ask yourself:
- If we were to create this brand from scratch today, how would we do it?
- What are the little things about the business we’ve always sensed were off-kilter that we can easily drop?
- Now that we’ve shedded the easy stuff, what else needs to go?
- Can we acknowledge that our audience is not just made up of people like us? So, who are they?
- Our original mission is still valid, but the world has changed. How do we respond?
What Should Brands Be Doing NOW?
Every aspect of our lives is going to evolve; we’re all at the point where we feel the shell begin to crack, and it’s taking longer than we want, and we have all this pent-up energy and desire. It’s like the last day of school: We’re just waiting for the final bell to ring so we can throw open the doors, chuck our books and papers in the trash bins, and rush out into the promise of summer break.
The brands that are crushing it are those that constantly ask: What does the world outside our four walls look like? As humans seek to breathe more air and see more things and have more experiences, where can we meet them and serve their needs? If you’re not paying attention to the zeitgeist, your brand will get left behind.
Unsurprisingly, alcohol brands are doing this well; with the promise of all the screws loosening and we’ll get to do stuff and be with people again in a celebratory fashion, marketing campaigns look like the world does: bright, sunny, and optimistic.
Don’t let dumb things get in the way of innovation and change in the current environment. Brands should take advantage of the psychology of what is happening and establish themselves as an important component of that environment.
If you’re augured into your history and your ways, you may be doing great right now; you’ve managed supply chain and relied on consumer familiarity—but if you’re not looking at the way consumers are changing, you’re going to miss the opportunity.
So pay attention. Be part of humanity’s escape hatch.
“When a brand gets clear on why they exist and what kind of contribution they want to make to society, that automatically puts them into the better-for-you space.”
David Lemley is a brand strategist with a strong history in restoring growth to declining brands, developing new brands, and accelerating growth on established brands. He is the president and head of brand strategy for Retail Voodoo, a firm that helps specialty food and beverage brands address their toughest growth challenges. David focuses on the growing Better-For-You category and has worked with big brands like Starbucks and REI and Kind Bars to name a few. He loves nothing more than to dig in deep to figure out what it takes to build a strong and lasting brand. His expertise in brand strategy, innovation, consumer markets, and consumer behavior builds brand awareness and equity.
Listen & Learn:
- Defining what makes a Better-For-You brand.
- His philosophy for making your competitors irrelevant through positioning.
- The differences between making assumptions versus implementing strategies when marketing better-for-you brands.
- The importance of figuring out your brand’s mind, body, and spirit.
- Creating “impressive brand storytelling.”
Gooder Podcast featuring Paula Reichel
“When you eat the foods that are good for your health, it’s also good for the planet.” – Paula Reichel
This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Paula Reichel, the Senior Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Senior Advisor at Partnership for a Healthier America. We discuss the importance of improving food equity, cultural relevancy, and cultural competency in our society. We also learn about the positive impacts and changes the food industry has had on the average American diet, especially through the pandemic. Along the way, we hear the story of an innovative leader who helps set the flame on entrepreneurism in the food space.
In this episode we learn:
– A little background about Partnership for a Healthier America.
– How the CPG or consumer packaged goods relationships fit into the conversation in Partnership for a Healthier America.
– About health washing, what it is, and its implications on the food that people are eating and the food that people are also producing.
– How the lack of diet and cultural representation in the manufactured goods exacerbate the health divide.
– Opportunities in the naturals food industry that investors need to know about.
How Food and Beverage Brands Can Better Serve Consumers Nutrition Needs featuring Paula Reichel, Healthier America
About Paula Reichel:
Paula Reichel serves as the Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Senior Advisor to the CEO at Partnership for a Healthier America. Partnership for a Healthier America is a national nonprofit founded alongside Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Initiative to transform the food landscape in pursuit of health equity so that all children grow up healthy and free from obesity, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Paula grew up in the Midwest and experienced the effects of the toxic food environment on her, her family, and her community’s health and quality of life. Her passion propelled her to identify new ways to create access to good, nutritious food for economically disadvantaged communities through innovative programs, partnerships, and entrepreneurial ventures and systems, policy, and practice change. She has deep experience working with the private sector, the charitable food sector, and public schools and consults on organizational strategy and business development. Paula is a frequent guest lecturer and holds a Master’s degree from Cornell University where she studied education and inequality and a Bachelor’s degree in marketing from Butler University.
Guests Social Media Links:
Let’s Move Initiative – was a public health campaign in the United States, led by then-First Lady, Michelle Obama. The campaign aimed to reduce childhood obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle in children.
Through Veggies Early & Often, PHA is convening leaders in the industry, health professionals, and early childhood education to consolidate evidence and outline an action agenda with the goal to raise a generation of veggie lovers.
Darden Restaurants, Inc. – is an American multi-brand restaurant operator headquartered in Orlando.
Mars, Incorporated – is an American multinational manufacturer of confectionery, pet food, and other food products and a provider of animal care services, with US$33 billion in annual sales in 2015. It was ranked as the 6th largest privately held company in the United States by Forbes.
PepsiCo, Inc. – is 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 products.
Frito-Lay – is an American subsidiary of PepsiCo that manufactures, markets, and sells corn chips, potato chips, and other snack foods.
Mondelez International, Inc. – often stylized as Mondelez, is an American multinational confectionery, food, holding and beverage and snack food company based in Chicago, Illinois. Mondelez has annual revenue of about $26 billion and operates in approximately 160 countries.