all Insights

Put a Wrap On It: The Rise of Packaging in Fresh Food

As consumers become more in tune with how and where their food is grown these days, the perception of food packaging has shifted — thus opening the door for brands to radically innovate in design and messaging to entice new buyers.

Shoppers are looking more closely at certifications to ensure products are made with trusted ingredients and best production practices before placing selections into their shopping baskets. Informed by news stories about food and nutrition, they have become more savvy as they shop the center of the store — and the trend has been spreading to the perimeter and into fresh products.

What about produce? Most consumers buy fresh produce in market-style bulk volumes and they have to rely on faith that those products are, in fact, pesticide free, organic, fair trade, etc., as labeled on the shelf tag. Even with those little PLU code stickers on each tomato and signs on the bin of loose-leaf baby kale, there is something not entirely comforting to the consumer that that sticker tells the whole story.

The Rise of Branded and Packaged Fresh Food

And that’s the reason why we’re seeing a rise in packaged produce: Branding, packaging, and graphic design help consumers confidently purchase these products.

Today when I go to my local grocer’s produce section and pick up a pack of baby greens, I’ll see a clean label made with soy-based inks on recycled paper applied to a crystal-clear container made from recycled plastics with the words “Washed 3X,” clusters of certification icons, inviting graphics, and typography — telling me all the right things to ease my anxiety about the product’s origins and safety. The packaging gives me confidence that I’m making a smart, safe choice.

The power of graphic design in produce is exciting. Brands like Organic Girl are leading the charge in fresh packaging and winning consumers over as their go-to choice based on convenience and trust. Designing food packaging has changed the way consumers shop, turning them into label readers with choices instead of label gawkers. Branded produce is bringing life and interest to a formerly quiet department.

The New Fresh Perimeter: 4 Insights

The fresh footprint is getting bigger at retail; it’s not just fruits, veggies, meats, and gallons of milk. Packaged fresh now includes items like snackable cheese trays, hummus and pretzels, meal prep kits, green juices, and more. I’m seeing marketing trends and shopper tendencies that will continue to shape this new fresh packaged category, including:

Farmers’ markets are shaping shoppers’ expectations. Shopping at farmers’ markets is a wonderful experience that makes us feel good about what we are buying and who we are supporting. The opportunity consumers have to speak and deal directly with the source provides a transparency that is hard to match. The trend of fresh in grocery echoes this experience, from the way food is being packaged to the way the retail environment is designed.

Design conveys authenticity. Packaging that shows off the actual food — with windows and clear substrates instead of photographs — takes us right to the farm when we interact with the package. Consumers care about the origin of their food across the fresh category, not just in produce. So a pack of fresh pasta might use classic typography, elegant colors and clear windows showing off the product to make the product feel like it came right from Italy.

Packaging enables convenience. Grab-and-go products especially communicate the freshness and convenience of a healthy, quick meal. Pre-made salads, portion control cheese plates, and serving-sized fruit cups provide alternative meals that consumers can feel good about — and that feel-good messaging (i.e., high protein, low sugar, all natural) is reinforced on the label or wrap.

Sustainability is a concern. Pre-made dinners and delivery meal services are also driving the fresh trend in packaged foods. But as the fresh category adopts bags, boxes, and wraps, a big concern is overpackaging and recyclability. I expect that consumers will quickly start to question how these packaged-fresh brands give back to the environment and their investment in sustainability and fair trade initiatives.

Yes, a consumer might feel weird buying fresh produce in a plastic container. But they’ll feel better about it knowing that Organic Girl puts extra effort into using recycled plastic in their packaging and making their packaging recyclable (consumers who don’t have access to recycling facilities can send their empty packaging back to the brand’s office). That might seem silly, but it absolutely backs up the brand promise of 100% organic, high quality, great-tasting products. To convince a shopper to choose branded spinach over a bundle with a PLU twist-tie from the bulk bin, it’s not enough to tout the quality of the product. Organic Girl goes all-in on purity, nutrition, and sustainability.

I’m not advocating for the produce department to look like a plastic festival. But consumers (and I count myself among them) are adopting a different shopping mentality that emphasizes content over value and that opens up so much potential for innovation in packaging design. The future of fresh may be packaged, but the foundation is more about transparency and education so consumers can make better decisions.

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
all Insights

Social Media Influencers: Are They Right for Your Marketing Strategy?

When it comes to product endorsements, influencers are the new celebrities. It’s no longer about Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio pitching coffee makers during the morning TV news. Today, brands are tapping social media users who hold sway over a large number of followers by paying them to use, photograph, and write about their products.

We think of Oprah as the OG of influencers: Before the term was widely used, she demonstrated the power that a beloved figure has to move a product, simply by dubbing it one of her “favorite things.”

What Is an Influencer?

First, let’s identify what an influencer is and isn’t. An influencer is an individual who has the ability to shape or dictate other people’s behaviors or opinions. They create a curated style and brand that means something to their followers. Influencers market the living daylights out of their personal brands by sharing selfies of themselves doing, using, and wearing stuff they love.

Influencers use social media to promote their personal brands, and they may reach a high level of popularity or even celebrity. But we consider influencers private citizens, not public figures like actors or reality TV stars or musicians. The difference between traditional celebrity and influencer endorsements is that influencers are building their brands based on their own personal equity, so they theoretically wouldn’t promote a product they wouldn’t personally use. While Kim Kardashian uses the channels of influencers, like Instagram and Snapchat, she’s a celebrity; she’ll promote anything if she’s paid to do it. It’s her job.

How to Market Your Brand via Influencers

Influencer marketing might seem like an easy and inexpensive tactic. Go on Instagram, search a few hashtags, find people who are using products like yours, send them some free stuff, and watch sales figures jump. Everybody and their brother thinks, “If I can just get enough influencers to use it, our product will move.”

It’s not that easy. Social channels are awash in “stars” with big followings. Brands are getting fed up with social media mavens asking for free room nights, clothing, and products. Agencies have sprung up to connect brands and influencers, for a fee. Social media users have gotten wise to branded content in disguise.

Influencers can work for your brand, if you’re smart about tapping them.

Four Strategies for Working with Influencers

Align with your brand.

Influencer marketing is about choosing people whose personal brands align with your brand strategy. They should be living embodiments of your brand’s ethos, not just mirrors of your audience. To find them, look for active social media followers who are part of your tribe. Who’s out there living the life your brand stands for? Are they already using your product?

For example, as we helped our client Essentia water reposition from a product for health-minded yoga fans to a product that helps anyone overachieve, we aligned them with lots of different people who aren’t yoga practitioners: music producers, artists, paralympic athletes. We selected influencers who could endorse the product because it helps them reach beyond their goals.

Look for the quiet influencers.

Whenever we encourage a client to get into the influence game, we tell them to zag, to find the as-yet undiscovered, untapped influencers. You don’t want to pursue the same people every other brand in your market is working with, and you don’t necessarily want Instagrammers with huge followings. A recent New York Times article calls these the ‘nanoinfluencers’—people with fewer than 1,000 followers who are especially willing to work with brands and whose lack of fame makes them more believable to their fans. They may not have prior experience with sponsored posts. But they’re genuine, enthusiastic, and really good at using social media. You want to identify rising social media stars and ride the trajectory alongside them.

Identify influencers who can drive sales.

One good influencer is better than 40 who won’t do anything for your brand. If you’re sending product and spending resources to shepherd influencers, make sure you know they’re going to move the needle for you. Otherwise, it’s the same as paying for advertising that doesn’t work.

Be transparent.

Brands and their celebrity/influencer endorsers are drawing scrutiny for not labeling social posts as sponsored content. (DJ Khaled is a glaring example.) Social platforms, consumer watchdog groups, and the FTC are cracking down. Be sure your agreement with any influencer requires that the post or image be tagged as sponsored.

It’s still too early to understand what the return on an influencer arrangement can or should be. And the investment can vary widely, from free product to thousands of dollars for an extended campaign.

But we know that there is a positive correlation. Influencers who are just as passionate about your brand as you are make naturally credible spokespeople. These endorsement relationships are symbiotic, because your marketing partner is personally invested in supporting products they believe in—and their followers are, too.

Influencers create a halo effect, giving your brand street cred in their world.

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
all Insights

The Role of Instagram in Package Design

With Instagram being one of the first places consumers will see your brand’s main face to the world (its packaging), how can brands optimize this platform to work as hard for them as good in-store shelf presence does? There are considered ways that brands can use the power of social media to evoke an emotional tribal call to your consumers rather than becoming something people mindlessly scroll past.

In a platform that is filled with clutter, you must find ways to leverage Instagram to give your brand a unique perspective and lure consumers in by both standing out and fitting in.

The first step to success is to identify your brand’s voice and brand promise; this should be the blood that pulses through everything you do on Instagram – from stories to posts to direct messages. This is most important because Instagram is where your package goes from being the most interesting on shelf to something that makes people feel cool when they’re showing it off on their own feed. Instagram is all about what people choose to signal to the outside world – where your product needs to go from visually striking in a two-second scroll to being by consumers signaling a message to their own followers.

After you have clear vision of your brand’s tone, voice and ethos, you can begin thinking about how to best approach Instagram.

How To Launch a Well-Designed Product on Instagram

  1. Do your research. Yes – stare at your phone for a while. When designing a package to stand out on a retail shelf, your main sources of competition are the other brands that your package will sit next too, but Instagram is a totally different playing field. You will need to research what accounts your ideal consumers follow to know what makes them mentally invest in a brand. Also use competitive research as a benchmark on how to zag away from competitor accounts as a way to catch and keep their attention.
  2. Aesthetic is important but not everything. Your social media is an opportunity to sell a potential consumer on your brand’s promise and make them want to feel like they NEED to be a part of tribe. In doing so, the aesthetics of your posts should mimic your packaging in emotive cues, but remember that your words matter too. It’s important to move beyond the pack to create a 360 brand experience rather than simply following what’s on trend at the moment. This extends beyond the story that is told in photos, but also how you communicate with your followers. By responding to their comments in a timely manner and in an on-brand tone of voice you signal to them that their loyalty means the world to you, and in turn they will be more likely to sing your praises to others.
  3. Where package design in concerned, consider its “thumbnail-ability”. Instagram is becoming one of the biggest purchase drivers for retail brands with its new feature to allow consumers to purchase directly from the app or connect to an e-commerce site. Making sure that your product communicates all that it needs to in the right size and format – which in this case, is a small, thumb-sized image. From a visual communication standpoint, beyond just showing how the pack looks and functions, brands should be demonstrating the brand promise, key benefits, and the product name in a beautiful way — whether through photography or videography. You have two seconds to wow them and pull them in. Challenge accepted.

While keeping all these key factors in mind, know that you have such a unique power to positively impact billions of people with your brand if you use Instagram correctly. With the amount of reach available with Instagram, your message can travel extremely far in the blink of an eye. Just remember that consistency in imagery and messaging is a key factor in conveying authenticity, which is most sought after in this sphere. Make sure you use that power wisely.

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
all Insights

Increase Shelf Presence for Your Food and Beverage Brand

When your packaging lacks clear visual hierarchy, consumers become overwhelmed, confused, or simply disinterested. Your package is a mini-poster informing and attracting potential consumers. Strategy-informed visual hierarchy on front-of-pack will help your product shout to effectively cut through the clutter around it.

Top Packaging Priority: Declutter

Consider the KonMari methodology for decluttering your home that encourages cherishing things that spark joy in your life. If a belonging no longer sparks joy, it is acknowledged for its service and thanked before being let go.

Like people’s homes, packages over time tend to get over cluttered. Strategic foundational work before the design process can help inform the messaging hierarchy and establish which communications and visuals should be first in placement priority. Some items need to be let go to avoid trying to say too much on front-of-pack. Establishing a mission statement, brand pillars, identifying audience, and other strategy exercises will naturally help you choose one simple thing you want to say first and then organize information from there in order of importance.

As the number of potential claims, benefits, and certifications keeps going up, it becomes increasingly important to weigh carefully the value of each item and whether it is appropriate for front-of-pack. Too many benefits and claims become white noise to consumers. Establishing good hierarchy with these bits of information will make them effective communication tools. Grouping elements or creating smart pods of information can help the consumer make sense of the disparate elements.

The work we did for Hilary’s is an example of grouping elements and simplifying design in order to speak more clearly to consumers at retail. The product was invisible through the freezer door due to the lack of discipline in the messaging on the front-of-pack. Through strategy and research, we refocused their messaging to get back to living their mission to heal the American diet through sustainable farming, alternative grains, and plant-based protein. We helped them pivot away from strictly appeasing the vegan crowd, which helped simplify messaging and identify the elements to remove from the front of the pack. By grouping elements into more digestible pods of information, the new package stands out on shelf and blocks well in the freezer door.

Think of Your Package as a Poster

Consider the rule of 30-10-3. What does your package say from 30 feet away? Is it sufficiently bold to speak from across the room and does it clearly signal product category? From ten feet away is there a brand message or visual? Once I’m within three feet, am I rewarded and enticed to pick up the package because of the visual appetite appeal and the features and benefits? Thoughtful brand strategy helps inform the order of content and how it can best be presented to the consumer.

Angie’s Boom Chicka Pop is an example of a brand that works great as a mini-poster at retail. The brand uses a palette of delightful colors and bold typography to establish a light, fun, and sassy brand personality. From 30 feet away the viewer sees the brand name with the giant Boom Chicka Pop name dialed up in volume. From ten feet away, flavor name is easily legible as well as circle bursts with key benefits called out such as “calories per cup” and “whole grain energy”. At three feet the consumers engage with the Angie’s brand logo and read the bottom of the pack message “Real, simple ingredients. Nothing fake.” Boom Chicka Pop chose to shout brand name first celebrating an unconventional name that amplifies the fun in snacking.

Take Category Cues into Account

There are visual tropes on packaging within each industry category, whether you are selling ice cream, snacks, or canned vegetables. In order to achieve visual pop at shelf, you need to find the right balance between embracing some of the common cues in the category while disrupting other expected norms. A robust shelf audit and analysis before design will help identify these important commonalities within a category and inform the creative brief.

There’s a constant tug-o-war between disruption and category cues. Finding the right balance is important. Understanding the brand vision, mission, and values will help you know where to push and when to lean into category norms.

In the ice cream category, most packages include a photo of a scoop or bowl of ice cream. Halo Top, a low-calorie ice cream offering, dispensed with any images of the ice cream in favor of an enormous silhouette of an ice cream scoop with the calorie count featured larger than the brand name. The design treatment is a smart translation for a young female audience looking for a fun, alternative ice cream choice that also has a low-calorie count.

The Final Packaging Details

Good hierarchy helps with shop-ability and legibility. Your goal is for consumers to be able to quickly understand what makes your product different.

Make your packaging sing like great music. Not every instrument should be loud — you need to achieve a good mix of loud and soft. Using good strategy in tandem with the design process will help inform what elements should be loudest and what others should be softer.

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
all Insights

Working with a Creative Agency: What to Expect

If you’ve even begun to dip your toes in the market for a creative agency, chances are you know something is broken with your brand. At the very least, you have the inescapable sense that something’s just not right, not working the way it should.

More often than not, the underlying issue with your brand is hiding in plain sight. But before you can identify what that is, you have to be on the lookout for the symptoms of your problem.

Perhaps your sales are flat or trending downward in a marketplace that’s growing, or you’re dealing with sales that are generally inconsistent and unpredictable. Maybe you’ve had success with an aging audience but are struggling to gain traction with new consumers. Problems with sales like these are typically a strong indicator that there’s a deeper strategic issue with your brand.

High turnover or changes in your company’s leadership or product line can also signal that you need help from a branding agency. Sometimes, particularly in the case of turnover, these symptoms can reveal evidence that your internal brand is broken. Other times, there’s nothing technically wrong with your brand, but new leadership or products mandate a change all the same.

The important thing is to be aware and acknowledge that you have a problem, even if you don’t exactly know what the root of the problem is. If you’re looking to hire a strategic branding partner with that knowledge in mind, you’re on the right track.

What a Brand Strategy Agency Is — and Isn’t

There is a lot of ambiguity around what a branding agency actually is, and that muddiness has regrettably caused misplaced mistrust in creative agencies as a whole. And why wouldn’t it?

You’ll find so many agencies that call themselves branding agencies, but what they’re really doing is brand application — for all intents and purposes, they’re graphic designers. Graphic designers absolutely have their place in the market, but if you’re looking for creative solutions to fix a more fundamental problem with your brand, you’re starting in the wrong place.

Maybe you know something is broken with your brand, or maybe you just need help figuring out where those weak links might be. Either way, you need a brand strategy agency, plain and simple. They’re the ones who will be able to strengthen your brand for future success and elasticity.

Brand Strategy and Creative Strategy Are Not the Same Thing

So many potential clients walk into our doors thinking they have one issue when they actually have another.

Case in point: We had a brand come to us asking for billboards they wanted to put up around town. As we got deeper into conversations with them, however, we realized that their problem wasn’t that they weren’t doing enough advertising — their problem was that their brand was fundamentally broken. We were blunt and directed them that if they fixed their brand first, a solution to their advertising woes would naturally follow.

Unfortunately, strategy can be a tough sell for our potential partners. Strategic consulting isn’t sexy, like a billboard or a magazine ad, and it can’t deliver instant gratification like a creative deliverable can. Combine that with upper management teams who tend to prioritize time and budget over all else, and the decision to hire a brand strategy agency can be a hard pill to swallow.

But if you want to strengthen your brand, you have to be open to beginning with brand strategy. Brand strategy births creative output, not the other way around. Don’t be afraid to invest in your branding strategy — you’ll be glad you did, and so will your superiors.

Ask the Right Questions

If you want to find the right branding agency (or really, if you want to know if it’s the right time for your brand to work with a strategic firm at all), you have to ask the right questions. When it comes down to it, we recommend you start with one fundamental question: “What is my end goal?”

Your end goal is not a packaging system or some other creative output. Your end goal is defining your target audience, finding new channels, or increasing turn on shelves. Make your brand strategy about an end game, not a deliverable.

It’s that simple. Instead of saying, “I need new packaging,” ask “Why do I need new packaging?” If you can ask the “why” questions, the right agency will know the right questions to ask in return.

Trust the Experts

So you’ve asked the right questions and found an agency with a history of growing and evolving brands through brand and creative strategy. Perfect. The foundation of trust has to begin with the hiring decision.

Very few of us would presume to dictate how our doctor analyzes our health or provides care when we’re sick — and with good reason, right? We recognize that a doctor is a licensed medical professional, and we, with a few exceptions, are not. The same level of trust should hold true when you work with a branding agency. Once your brand makes the decision to hire an agency, feel confident that you’ve hired an expert and trust them to do their job with the tried-and-true processes they have in place.

It may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re working with the right brand strategy agency, you should know off the bat that results will not happen overnight.

If you want immediate results, there are certainly agencies out there that can deliver Band-Aid solutions, (though they may not admit as much). But real strategy that produces lasting results takes time. You can’t hurry the process.

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
all Insights

Outdoor Brands Need to Move Past Promises of Performance

As more people discover the serenity and beauty of the outdoors, the audience for outdoor products has shifted beyond the extreme outdoor athlete and rightfully started expanding to include more women, more urban dwellers, and more diverse people looking for some good times rather than a fierce 20-mile backpacking expedition through rugged terrain. With this new audience momentum, there is a real hunger in the marketplace for brands to use imagery and language that feels approachable and authentic. Momentum is shifting beyond performance promises and niche-sponsored specialists.

Brand identity is more than a logo or wordmark. A well-executed identity needs to be supported by brand values, brand mission, and the brand’s “onlyness.” The identity is the tip of the spear in winning the tribal audience all brands crave, but if the spearhead isn’t attached to anything it’s pretty useless. Identity can be a key differentiator in the clamor for consumers’ attention.

Outdoor Brands’ Top Performers: Identity & Messaging Analysis

Patagonia and The North Face have been clawing at the top of the mountain together for years. Both brands have enormous recognition, innovative high-performing gear, tremendous quality, and loyal followers. As a Design Director evaluating the two brand identities side-by-side, I would argue from a pure design perspective, The North Face is the winner. The simple Helvetica typography coupled with the abstracted representation of half dome from Yosemite is classic design. I love it!

However, Patagonia has done a much better job amplifying their mission with clarity to consumers and therefore their logo means so much more than a quirky slab serif typeface with a silhouette of a mountain range. Seeing the Patagonia wordmark on a hat or shirt immediately makes me think of “Cause No Unnecessary Harm” or reminds me of their commitment to being an environmental company first that happens to make outdoor gear.

The North Face tagline, “Never Stop Exploring,” may be exciting but just doesn’t elicit the same emotions. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a super fan of both brands, but Patagonia stirs me and inspires me.

A quick visit to the home pages of both companies illustrates another powerful brand moment and how messaging and language can further build meaning into brand identity. The North Face features a fairly expected picture of an outdoor athlete clinging to a steep wall with the headline, “Athlete Tested, Expedition Proven.” Clearly a strong argument for quality and performance, but with so many brands meeting increasingly stringent metrics of performance I’m left asking, “So what?”

Take a quick trip to the Patagonia website and the home page has a stunning image of a dam with an equally sparse yet powerful headline, “The Dam Truth.” Clearly standing behind their mission you are left with no questions as to where the brand is going. It’s provocative and satisfies many consumers’ yearnings for more than just a coat that can measure up to being walloped by a snow storm. I’m hooked.

Outdoor Disruptors to Keep an Eye On

Beyond the titans of the outdoor industry, marketing disruptors are proving the new outdoor audience cares about having a good time and wants to look good doing it. The North Face’s expedition-tested jacket isn’t that important to this crew. Enter Poler. I ran across this band of camp vibe disruptors a few years ago. Their visual identity is fun, hand-drawn, and not entirely fixed. All their visual expressions amplify their mission — enjoying good camp vibes with your friends. They are essentially pushing lifestyle over performance and don’t take themselves too seriously when they claim, “The world’s highest standard of stuff.”

The Poler website is filled with lush photo essays of friends adventuring in the outdoors, on road trips, sitting around the campfire, or cooking bacon over the camp stove. There are no features with intrepid mountain climbers or surfers on colossal waves — the elite athlete doesn’t play in their brand visuals or their brand narrative.

As mission and meaning become ever more critical in the race toward differentiation and attention, new brands are beginning to enter the marketplace in less traditional ways. A few years ago a company in Utah held an event they dubbed a Questival. The event is a 24-hour adventure race with tasks like “watch a sunrise,” “catch a fish outdoors,” or “donate blood while wearing dracula teeth.” Cotopaxi, the company behind the endeavor, is something of a hybrid event company, gear company, non-profit partner, etc. They tout the tagline “gear for good” and 10% of all profits on the outdoor, adventure gear supports various causes around the globe.

The simple silhouette of a llama head serves as a great symbol for their Questival event as well as the company identity. The llama — a hardy pack animal from the mountainous regions of South America — helps communicate their commitment to global adventure and is imbued with so much more as the company moves forward with its mission of bringing people together for Questival events and doing good. A brightly colored backpack from Cotopaxi is much more than another highly performing piece of gear — it signals a lifestyle.

Ultimately, brand leaders and brand disruptors are showing us that marketing outdoor gear never goes out of style! The demand is high and consumers are hungry. Highly technical gear and quality continue to be valuable, but consumers are looking for more. A unique, differentiated identity is imperative — one that’s shaped around mission and brand pillars that carve out a unique space for the brand to own and amplify.

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
all Insights

The “Old” Versus “New” Design Language of Healthy Brands

Up until the last several years, there was a specific formula for the package design of natural and healthy food products. The target market of conscious consumers was small and looked for a very particular set of design cues to signal the niche natural food category.

However, nowadays, these brands are making healthy living more accessible to the average consumer. The claim of all-natural or organic is no longer a differentiator because it’s all over the shelves. Natural is no longer a luxury – it’s an expectation.

So, how do brands redesign their brands and packaging to stand out among these cluttered shelves of sameness? As the target market has expanded and evolved, so has the design language. These new cues speak to consumers in new, disruptive ways. For the brands not speaking this language fluently yet, it’s time to make some bold changes and reimagine the way they communicate their product’s benefits on-shelf.

Bob’s Red Mill vs. Lark Ellen Farm

Bob’s Red Mill used to scream healthy. Only the stereotypical health nuts would go straight for their bags when they saw them on-shelf. Now, it just screams outdated and makes you feel like it has been sitting on the shelves for a few months. The natural colors now feel dull and flavorless. The picture of the elderly Bob used to signify longevity, now it translates to all of the negative connotations of the word old. Instead of thinking, “Wow, if I eat this, I’ll grow to be that old someday,” people think, “Wow, only old people eat this.” Quaker Oats went through a large rebrand to make their mascot Larry appear younger for this exact same reason.

Bob’s Red Mill used to signal healthiness because it had a lot of information all in one place. The cluttered design and small text told the consumer there was a lot of health talk going on. With all those words, they must know what they’re doing – right?

For a consumer who is not naturally inclined to pick up a healthy product, this high density of information on-package can be a huge deterrent. It triggers the thought, “I don’t have the time to learn about this!” so they just grab the comfortable, unhealthy brand that doesn’t make them read or think too much. More modern natural brands have positioned themselves now to be far less overwhelming. To show their transparency and the simplicity of their ingredients, they don’t make consumers work to get the answers or information they need. It’s a reduction in information and increase in simplicity that communicates benefit and lifestyle clearly in-store.

Lark Ellen is the perfect example of this level of simplification. They have three clearly marked areas of information – the most important ones being readable from a few feet away. It also helps that it feels bright and lively while maintaining a healthy vibe. The hand-drawn ingredients contrasted with the window to the real ingredients shows whimsy and transparency. The playfulness of the illustrations is an invitation rather than a distraction.

Lay’s Natural vs. Uglies

You see the Lay’s logo, and you immediately think unhealthy. It’s hard for the brand to have any semblance of health because of its reputation for salty, fatty snacks. The illustrated farmland in the background originally signaled to any shopper it was more natural than the usual, regular old chip. Showing cues of farmers or farmland is one of the oldest tricks in the “Make This Product Look Natural” handbook. However, that’s about it. The packaging differentiated the natural product from the traditional just enough. Nowadays, health-conscious consumers skim over this package—it blends into the product line and doesn’t offer any value besides “natural-ish.”

Uglies, on the other hand, educates the consumer through creative copy and visual storytelling as to the value of the product beyond just a chip. Many natural products originally look funky and weird before they’re manicured for consumption. It used to be common practice to hide this by showing the prettiest, most perfect chip on the package, which left the concept of authenticity at the wayside. But now, there’s this celebration of ugly. That’s why this packaging works so well. It’s embracing natural for what it is and finding joy in telling that “imperfect” story. Not only that, but it also promotes the reduction of food waste and makes ugly food more appealing to the average consumer. The simple colors, unique typography, and cute illustrations work together to communicate a trial-worthy product.

Adams vs. Wild Friends

Adams—western, wild, natural. The gradations of color and old western style typography gave you a sense of nostalgia to simpler times. When this packaging was designed, the big “100% Natural” probably jumped out at customers from the shelf. Now, we just expect to see that label. Most consumers hardly even notice it.

In stark contrast to that aesthetic, Wild Friends nut butters jump from the shelf into the consumer’s cart because of the vibrant colors and friendly illustrations. It makes the customer feel youthful and playful. There’s an immediate whimsical feel when you view this packaging. Whimsy is a cue many natural brands use to help consumers understand they can feel good about what they eat while also having it taste great.

It’s uplifting – you can tell by the craft design cues that whoever makes this product feels a sense of pride in their product. Wild Friends tells their origin story upfront in a relatable way. This squirrel acts as a mascot of clean, delicious nut butters and leaves an emotional (and therefore long-lasting) impression on consumers.

Mountain House vs. Patagonia Provisions

Mountain House was one of the first brands to pioneer the category that answered the consumer need for portable, practical, and tasty backpacking food. At the time, they had a great idea. They put beautiful photos of a place anyone would love to set up a campsite, large and prominent on the front. It was all about the activity of the consumer and did not say too much about the product itself or the lifestyle associated with it.

As this category of packaged goods continues to expand to accommodate a wider audience of backpackers and people looking for more from their snacks, Patagonia has stepped up to the plate. Being a premium brand known for having a triple bottom line and a deep understanding of their consumers, Provisions was a natural brand extension for them to move into a new outdoor category: food. They come with a promise—one they don’t have to shout from the package because they use purity of color and youthfulness to communicate it. The vintage style illustrations and simple typography communicate the natural and pure elements of their food, rather than drool-worthy photos of mountains. In the case of Patagonia Provisions, if you took the Patagonia name and logo off the package, their packaging looks like a kick-starter, “the food chain needs fixing,” kind of brand. It harkens back the same feeling you get when you look at something from the Audubon society, but with more joy and celebration about the ingredients.

The natural category used to rely on complex packaging. It needed to scream “outdoors” or “natural” or “healthy” from the shelf, and need to explain itself far more than it does now. And as the natural sector has evolved, so have the design cues. Healthy and natural foods have become far more accessible to the average customer, which means the packaging must speak on that same wavelength. Simplicity translates to transparency and makes information easy to understand and find. Bright and vibrant colors evoke joyful feelings of youth and vitality. Illustrations and unique typography show how the product amplifies and enhances the consumer’s lifestyle. And finally, this concept of a celebration of natural builds an emotional bond with the consumer and feels extremely authentic. Understanding these changes and anticipating the next evolution of design will keep your brand ahead of the curve in the healthy food category.

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
all Insights

How and Why You Should Target Generation Z Through Branding

Predicting market trends and anticipating consumer shifts can make or break your company. However, we’re so often hyper-focused on what’s happening right in front of us, we forget to look ahead. Don’t let Gen Z sneak up on you – arm yourself early with data and resources to engage this consumer base effectively and powerfully.

You might not have the time or the resources to fully understand how this up-and-coming generation will affect your brand, so we’ve done the work for you.

Who is Gen Z?

Remember when Millennials overtook Generation X? Well, it’s about to happen again – but this time with Generation Z. Born between the years 1997 and 2015, this group currently makes up 26 percent of the population. Undeniably, marketers need to pay attention to this demographic before it’s too late.

Massive Buying Power

Although they’re young now, Gen Zers already have a combined buying power of $44 billion in the United States. If that wasn’t enough, they also influence $600 billion of family spending and by 2020, they’ll own 40 percent of consumer spending.

Digital Natives

Often referred to as “Digital Natives,” individuals in Gen Z cannot remember a time without Internet. Given this, they spend the majority of their free time online. According to Mediakix, with an eight second attention span, they value speed and ease-of-use.

Their media consumption behaviors differ from previous generations as well. Approximately 85 percent watch anywhere between two and four hours of YouTube per day. They prefer brands communicate with them there as opposed to anywhere else (like television or direct mail). On average, they use five screens – a smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and an iPad. That’s a lot of different screens communicating a lot of different messages.

Social Still Rules

Social media heavily impacts the way Gen Zers interact with one another and the way they view themselves. Because everything is so public and visible, personal appearances weigh heavy in their minds. Their parents – mostly Gen Xers – did not grow up with the same technology, so when it became available to them, they went all-in with snapping photos and sharing them with the whole world. Because, why not? Well, now we have an entire generation where their whole lives have been documented online. This is their “normal.”

Desire for Privacy

Since Gen Zers are accustomed to their whole lives being broadcast to the public, they crave privacy. More and more Gen Zers are setting up private social media accounts and being careful about what they post online. While Millennials like to share every experience and every thought with the online world, Gen Zers tend to share things among smaller, more intimate groups of people.

The “Instagram Effect”

The pressures presented by social media are encouraging Gen Zers to spend less on products and more on leisure services, such as vacations, dining out, and going out. This is what we call the “Instagram Effect.” Showing the awesome, cool, aspirational life they’re living draws more attention and satisfaction than just showing the latest, greatest product. Brand-name recognition holds far less credibility – in fact, many Gen Zers are extremely critical and less trusting of brands.


The older Gen Zers watched their families and older siblings suffer financially during the Great Recession. They see Millennials with thousands of dollars in debt and their parents’ businesses scrambling to get back on their feet. Although Gen Zers don’t have their own revenue stream yet, they have still felt the impact of financial crisis. This makes them far more cautious about spending money. They view college more as a time to hit the ground running to prepare for their career rather than a relaxing time of self-discovery.

What does this mean for my brand?

Brands can evolve to reach this new generation of consumers by following these steps:

Cater to Their Unique Shopping Habits

Gen Z individuals are twice as likely to shop on mobile devices – increasing the need for responsive websites and easy-to-navigate apps. Offering mobile-friendly shopping experiences and digestible product education is key. Convenience and visibility are critical here. If your site is too slow to load or difficult to traverse, Gen Zers will abandon ship quickly. More often than not, this generation will see your brand online before they see it on shelf.

This generation searches for information on their own, so proactive marketing will be most effective. Too impatient to wait for it to come to them, Gen Zers seek out to self-educate. They have a do-it-yourself, entrepreneurial mentality from being told “no” time after time during the Recession. They like to take things into their own hands.

Just as they look to their peers and influencers for recommendations on purchase decisions, they also love sharing their own knowledge online. This generation seeks out collaborative engagement and trusts peer recommendations before anything else. Influencing peers and sharing “insider” information on social media gives Gen Zers credibility among their followers. Brands need to give this consumer base easy ways to share this information digitally.

Since this generation lives with almost anything at their fingertips, they demand convenience. With the click of a button, they can have food delivered right to their door from their favorite restaurant in no time. Thousands of movies and television shows exist just beyond the tap of a screen. One-click smart shopping is a must.

Above all, Gen Zers demand speed. As they’ve grown up with quick load times and lightning fast streaming, they have very low tolerance for anything slow. Lagging apps or difficult-to-navigate websites will be the kiss of death for some brands. If a page takes too long to load, 60 percent of this generation won’t use it and will quickly move onto the next.

Put Values First

Gen Zers see themselves as do-gooders. As the most diverse generation, they believe people can coexist in society and want to make the world a more equal and fair place for all.

They’ve grown up seeing the Wall Street protests – rebellion against the establishment is practically in their DNA. They’re label-wary and challenge common “norms” like gender identity. Instead of relying on labels to define their personal identity, they actively craft their own personal brand through shared values.

This generation cares about transparency. They want to know how their beauty products are tested, who made the food they’re about to consume, etc. They will boycott a brand if the owner’s beliefs oppose their own or they don’t treat their employees fairly. Their money-conscious mentality makes them much more thoughtful about every purchase. If they’re spending their hard-earned money, they want to know exactly where it’s going.

With endless information always at their fingertips, anyone can be an “investigator” – looking for the truth behind veils of secrecy so prevalent in corporate America. When brands break their trust, they don’t forget that. Ethical and transparent brands that tell their story will resonate strongly with this generation.

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate

The Millennials paved the way for Internet-based innovation. As Gen Zers have grown up with innovation after innovation, they now expect it.

That being said, they’re far less impressed and excited by technological innovation. They crave something more – experience. In-store virtual and augmented reality shopping experiences will define the customer experience in the next few years. This experiential, interactive technology physically connects this generation to brands – therefore building a much stronger bond.

It’s important for brands to offer value beyond the product offering itself. In other words, brands must offer a lifestyle. These price-conscious consumers want to spend on experience, rather than material.

Although this generation has yet to gain their own revenue streams, we can already confidently identify certain characteristics based on behaviors, culture, and history. This generation craves security (in every sense of the word), convenience, innovation, and brands they can connect with on an emotional level. The Recession made them cautious with their spending, but they’ll become brand-loyal when they’re offered what they crave. Educating customers on the value beyond the product itself and providing meaningful experiences will tap into this generation’s massive buying power.

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
all Insights

How to Use Form Factor to Powerfully Transform Your Brand and Disrupt Your Industry

Form factor can either be part of your brand’s selling mechanism or integral to the functionality of the products. In either case, it dramatically impacts how customers are attracted to and interact with your brand.

We can all recognize Coca-Cola’s signature glass bottle silhouette anywhere and can spot a Pringles can from a mile away. Coca-Cola’s glass bottle was created to sell. They wanted to disrupt on-shelf and throw off copycats. The company wanted to be so memorable, someone could feel it in the dark and instantly recognize the brand. The classic Pringles can, on the other hand, was born out of necessity. They wanted a resealable chip vessel to keep their product fresh and a cylindrical, structured shape so their chips would remain aligned and avoid being crushed.

Strategy-driven form factor does not always look this dramatic. Small, subtle changes can influence consumers on a large scale and revolutionize your brand or even your industry. The following examples of how brand strategy can translate into form factor show both sides of this.

Form Follows Function, Right?

Hilary’s Eat Well veggie burgers had a form factor problem the aisle audit revealed during our brand strategy work. Hilary’s veggie burgers were packaged in two-pack, freezer safe pouches. Once the customer purchased a package, the remaining pouches on the shelf fell over (often face-down). This posed a very large problem in terms of visibility on-shelf .

And while the company was aware of this issue, their previous attempts to remedy the situation were engineered too costly and received push-back from Whole Foods and other natural grocers.

The outcomes and goals identified during brand strategy drove the design of the simple recyclable box. This solution improved sustainability (after all, it is a vegan brand), shopability, flavor appeal, and provided room to tell the more compelling story of the brand’s true point of differentiation. The packaging educated customers about the product being convenient culinary and made free-from common food allergens. Who knew a cute little chipboard box could do all that?

Form Informs a New Way to Effectively Reach Your Target Audience

Reaching new audiences is all about understanding how consumers interact with your product. DRY wanted to be known as the go-to sparkling beverage for tastemakers but struggled to gain traction with key bartenders and chefs. This wasn’t because these culinary masters didn’t like the product or refused to use it, no. It was because of the limiting form factor. The small, non-re-sealable 12-ounce bottles made it difficult to work within a hospitality setting. To combat this, DRY created a larger resealable bottle.

Not only did DRY’s new form take off in the hospitality industry, but major retailers took notice as well. Now consumers who wanted larger bottles for parties or entertaining could purchase a re-sealable bottle as well. By changing the form factor, DRY reached new, powerful audiences and provided them with new ways to consume their product.

Form Informs Emotional Connections

Form factor can also be effective in communicating practical uses of products through storytelling. For example, Ruffwear’s mission was to create a deeper bond between people who love the outdoors and their dogs – allowing their companion to accompany them on their epic outdoor adventures. They made mountaineer-quality gear for dogs, but nobody knew this because they cost-engineered their packaging to be as thin and small as possible. It didn’t tell the story. Our brand strategy pulled at the powerful bond between owner and pet. Through emotion-driven customer education on the product attributes, we told their story.

Form Informs the Revolution of Your Industry

The wine industry notoriously feels stuffy – embracing exclusivity and the culinary elite. The beer industry’s reputation, on the other hand, feels more inviting and approachable. A large part of this is form factor of the two beverages. Canned beer is portable and seen as less sophisticated. Wine is known for being bottled and corked; saved for fancy glasses and sit-down dinners.

Underwood effectively flipped this norm on its head. The brand saw the craft beer industry beginning to infiltrate wine’s territory by becoming more of a gourmet, culinary experience – even paired with food on occasion. As the craft beer industry threatened to steal market share, Underwood decided to steal it back by canning their wine – subsequently making it approachable, portable, and unstuffy. Younger audiences can now have quick, adventurous experiences that involve wine without the barriers typically preventing them from consuming wine conveniently. Underwood used form factor to completely upend the industry.

Califia revolutionized their industry as well through form factor. Any shopper can recognize their signature bottle shape with just a quick glance. Their unique, elegant plastic bottle shape disrupted the milk category because the product no longer lived in just the paper carton anymore. The brand wanted to move into the natural, organic, alternative milk category, so their form factor emulated characteristics that would communicate those qualities and shared values to customers. The graceful and iconic shape feels reminiscent of glass milk bottles – evoking a feeling of farm-to-table and reminding customers of the benefit of organic farming. The brand elicits this emotion right from the aisle. Now, customers can find everything Califia (from cold brew to almond milk to juice) in the same form – building a brand connection between completely different areas of the grocery store.

We often get so caught up thinking about graphic design or digital experiences that we forget about the engineering of products and the vessels they live in. Form factor plays just as large of a role – if not more – in influencing consumer’s purchase decisions. It provides the canvas for storytelling and the correct mechanics to optimize performance. Shape, structure, and function can revolutionize an entire brand and even an entire industry.

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
all Insights

Making the Most Out of Your Trade Show Investment

While the benefits of participating in trade events are well-documented, trade shows can be an expensive investment. Standing out and delivering a memorable impression on the floor at Expo WestFancy Foods, or even Outdoor Retailer can seem daunting. And yes, the pressure to deliver on ROI goals – while ever-present – can be elusive at best. As a strategic consulting firm and long-time attendee of these shows, we’ve seen a lot and learned a lot over the years. Through it all, we’ve emerged with a point-of-view on how to get the most out of these investments.

Before we dig in, a little context might be helpful. It’s hard to argue with the efficiency of these events. The ability to meet in person with current and future buyers, suppliers, and team members from around the country makes for a powerful argument to attend. That said, I’ve yet to meet a CMO or brand owner that doesn’t wish they had “just a little deeper pocket,” or more time, or just a few more resources in which to compete. Since many exhibitors are smaller (think 10×20-foot size booths), private meeting space is a premium and often these brands don’t have the budget to update their appearance as frequently as they would like. It goes without saying, show floors are crowded with high competition for attention and attendee quality can be mixed (more samplers than buyers). Okay, so what’s the big reveal?

To Quote Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”

Why does your company exist? What are you solving for and how do you deliver tangible solutions? Once you know your “why,” your team can confidently talk about your brand, what you do, and how you make a difference. After dozens (if not hundreds) of conversations later, we’ve learned that exhibitors’ needs can be distilled down to just a few key things:

Make progress with existing accounts – That means writing business, connecting face-to-face, getting in front of issues and problems, uncovering new/future opportunities, and connecting socially to further solidify relationships. Foster these connections by reaching out before the trade show and having conversations to better understand their mission and vision.

Open new accounts – Nothing is more important to the company and gratifying to salespeople as opening new accounts. Sales leadership needs to set goals, acknowledge progress, and celebrate the wins.

Encourage team building and support – With sales reps distributed around the country, trade shows become an economical way to get everybody in the same room. These events are a chance to align teams on strategy, current product, and service talking points. This knowledge-sharing and dose of camaraderie all make for a well-functioning sales organization.

The other stuff – Trade shows are a great opportunity for assessing competition, identifying trends, and taking advantage professional education and development opportunities. While you’re at it, be sure to schedule time to get out of the booth to engage in panel discussions, lectures, and networking events. Stop by the press office to distribute any press releases, and encourage reporters to stop by your booth. Leverage social media (especially Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) – most conferences have a specific hashtag you can track – to contribute to discussions and hot topics at the conference. Participating in these ways establishes you as a leader in your category.

The Basic Block and Tackle

Determine who you’re targeting and set your goals – Who are your best customers and your most desired prospects? Media, brokers/distributors, and other industry analysts should also make this list. Knowing who you’re for and who you’re not is a critical step in being efficient with your time and message. And if it isn’t obvious, capturing leads is why you’re here. Whether you use a lead retrieval device or the traditional pen and paper method, having a system you know you can rely on is very important.

Plan your engagement strategy pre-event, onsite, and post-event – Start early by defining your selling strategy and key messaging, and researching trends and competitors. It’s important to engage marketing early in the planning process as well. Start with the company website, blog, social channels, and email. Establish campaign cadence pre-event, during the event, and after. Empower your sales reps to be social by equipping them with content they can post online throughout the event.

Get your story baked (not fried) – It’s important to remember the value of a good first impression. Everybody on the floor needs to be on the same page. I’m often surprised of the lack of basic product information and the amount of inconsistency between salespeople at the same booth. Remember your “why,” and be proficient with your product and service talking points.

Invite interaction and make your booth approachable – Duh…Your booth strategy, design, layout, and messaging all need to work in harmony to attract your prospect, engage the uninformed, position your offering, and above all, set the table for a selling conversation. According to CEIR (Center for Exhibit Industry Research), 80% of what visitors remember the most about their visit to a booth is their interaction with the exhibit staff. Keep it simple and make it easy. And lest we forget, a well-designed booth has back-of-house function as well. From storing inventory to creating conversation spaces, smart booth design is worth the investment.

Ask for feedback – An accurate assessment of a prospect’s “intent to act” is everything. Beyond a typical qualifying conversation, if you can get attendees to fill out a quick survey, that data could prove invaluable. You can learn important information about the buyers in your industry, and also get a better understanding of why and how attendees come to these types of events. You’ll walk away with benchmark data, allowing you to make better informed decisions in the future. Also, your new customers will see that you care about their feedback – further improving their experience with your company.

Follow up with leads – It’s shocking: according to CEIR, 87% of leads captured at trade shows are not followed up on properly. Plan ahead to make sure you have a good process in place to follow up with leads. It is important that you follow up as soon as possible after the show so that your prospect feels valued and remains engaged.

Integrate and activate your social platforms at the event – There are only two forms of marketing that take place in real time — events and social media. Take full advantage of your event and combine the two to optimize exposure and extend your reach far beyond the trade show’s doors. There are many ways for you to interact on social media during your event. Here a few ideas:

  • Think of a memorable hashtag to create a buzz around your booth and encourage feedback from those that stop by. Include it on display material so that everyone sees it. Attendees will feel more involved in your brand, therefore increasing favorable relationships and loyalty.
  • Tweet to guests that have stopped by your booth with a simple thank you or nice to meet you to keep the conversation going after they walk away. This makes them feel special and appreciated – creating organic evangelists for your brand.
  • Highlight those that won a game or raffle at your booth to strengthen connections and get other attendees excited about stopping by.
  • Search Twitter to find individuals tweeting at the event and encourage them to come stop by your booth (in a human, non-marketer voice).

Other things to remember – Exploit opportunities for pre-show publicity. There are lots of overlooked ways companies can promote themselves before they even get to a show. It’s worth investigating publicity options across pre-show media and marketing material, social networking, sponsorship, speaking opportunities, and show floor activities. This will help drive traffic to your stand and encourage relevant attendees to seek you out.

In addition, the shows I mentioned earlier all have sponsorship packages to maximize your company’s exposure to qualified decision makers. These onsite marketing opportunities may include advertising in the program guide, award submissions and winners presentations, hosting user group meetings, participating in short course presentations, or sponsoring exhibition giveaways.

Start early, employ these strategies and tactics, eat right and get enough sleep. A trade show may seem daunting to some and trivial to others. But if you follow these recommendations, I’m confident you’ll get the most out of your trade show investment and see a ROI you can take pride in.

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