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The Movement of the Dietary Supplement Industry in the US featuring Zelda Beckford, New Chapter, Inc.

“Supplements are regulated heavily, more so than food, and more so than like meat.” – Zelda Beckford 

This week on the Gooder Podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Zelda Beckford, the Vice President of Quality of New Chapter, Inc., a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble Personal Health Care. We chat about Zelda’s journey from Herbalife to Beachbody, to Goop – and now – New Chapter! She sees herself as an influencer in education, leadership and company culture. Along the way, we discuss how being a child of immigrants influences her perspective on opportunity and commitment. We tackle everything from innovation, sustainability and quality control – to women leadership. 

 In this episode we learn: 

  • About the history and story of New Chapter. 
  • Zelda’s story growing up a first-generation American and how that influences her leadership.
  • The changing landscape of quality control, regulation, and compliance within the supplement category.
  • Zelda’s transition from the Director of Quality & Compliance role with Goop to VP of New Chapter and how her leadership experiences have helped to her nurture the work environment in both companies.
  • How the pandemic has impacted the supplements category and the challenges and opportunities that came along with it.
  • Why internal cross-functional team education is the key to her success.
  • Trends in dietary supplements and the supplement industry. 
Gooder Podcast

The Movement of the Dietary Supplement Industry in the US featuring Zelda Beckford, New Chapter, Inc.

About Zelda Beckford: 

Zelda Beckford is the Vice President of Quality at New Chapter, Inc., a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble Personal Health Care, located in Brattleboro, Vermont. Zelda received her B.A. from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA, and her M.B.A. from Webster University, Saint Louis, MO. She has almost 20 years of experience in Operations, Supply Chain, Process Improvement, Quality Assurance, Quality Control, Manufacturing, Product Lifecycle Management, Business Intelligence, Warehousing, Technical Support, and IT Systems Design. 

Zelda spent the first 10 years of her career progressively gaining vast QA, QC and Regulatory Compliance knowledge on a global scale for the health & wellness conglomerate, Herbalife Nutrition™. Zelda then moved on to Beachbody®, the creator of household home fitness & nutrition brands, such as Shakeology®, P90X®, 21Day Fix® and Insanity®. During her 6 years with Beachbody®, Zelda held several Quality positions and was ultimately promoted to Operations Manager, focusing on Process Improvement.   

Zelda’s next endeavor led her to take on the Director of Quality & Compliance role with Goop, Inc in Santa Monica, California. During her almost 3 years with Goop, Zelda managed a robust team to provide regulatory oversight of global activities for 8 business verticals; Beauty & Wellness, Fashion, Merchandising, Home, Brand Partnerships & Advertising, E-Commerce, Edit & Content. Zelda established Goop’s Quality Department from the ground up; she created the groundwork and executed Total Quality Management principles, approved development and release of new products, standardized processes, facilitated training and development of new quality & compliance applications. 

In November 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Zelda relocated from California to accept the Vice President of Quality role with New Chapter, Inc. Safeguarding quality standards is of the utmost importance when handling consumer packaged goods, and Zelda ensures compliance and standards are met at the highest levels. For almost 20 years, Zelda has applied her deep passion for Quality, broad understanding of the manufacturing process and collaborative management style to the growth and prosperity of each organization with which she has been employed. She has a strong track record implementing systems and process improvements in each of her prior companies. 

Among her various professional positions, Zelda is also a published author; sharing her take on Artificial Intelligence Technology. You can find the article here: https://securitytoday.com/articles/2017/07/24/safe-and-secure-a-look-into-artificial-intelligence-technology.aspx. Zelda is dedicated to continuous learning and welcomes new challenges in her personal and professional life. Zelda values diversity & inclusion, steaming from her own background growing up a first generation American, born to parents from Honduras, Central America. She encourages clear communication and diverse points of view, as a path to building healthy culture, enlightened values, ideas, and opinions. Zelda currently resides in Amherst, MA. She can be contacted at zbeckford310@gmail.com

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zeldab310/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/zweezie310 

Email: zbeckford310@gmail.com 

Website: https://www.newchapter.com/ 

Show Resources: 

The Procter & Gamble Company is an American multinational consumer goods corporation headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, founded in 1837 by William Procter and James Gamble.  

Goop is a wellness and lifestyle brand and company founded by actress Gwyneth Paltrow. Launched in September 2008, Goop started out as a weekly e-mail newsletter providing new age advice, such as “police your thoughts” and “eliminate white foods”, and the slogan “Nourish the Inner Aspect.” 

LMU Founded in 1911, LMU is a top-ranked university rooted in the Jesuit and Marymount traditions. We are committed to fostering a diverse academic community rich in opportunity for intellectual engagement and real-world experience.  

Herbalife Nutrition is a global multi-level marketing corporation that develops and sells dietary supplements. The company was founded by Mark Hughes in 1980, and it employs an estimated 8,900 people worldwide. 

The Beachbody Company is a privately-held American fitness and media company based in Santa Monica, California. It operates the brands Beachbody On Demand, Team Beachbody and Open fit. 

Zoom is a video telephony proprietary software program developed by Zoom Video Communications. The free plan provides a video chatting service that allows up to 100 concurrent participants, with a 40-minute time restriction. Users have the option to upgrade by subscribing to a paid plan. 

The United States Food and Drug Administration is a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is responsible for protecting the public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy, security of human and veterinary drugs and biological products.  

Blueland creates everyday eco-friendly cleaning products to save you money and space, without any plastic waste. 

Gucci is a luxury fashion house based in Florence, Italy. Its product lines include handbags, ready-to-wear, footwear, and accessories, makeup, fragrances, and home decoration. Gucci was founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci in Florence, Tuscany.. 

The North Face is an American outdoor recreation products company. The North Face produces outdoor clothing, footwear, and related equipment. Founded in 1968 to supply climbers, the company’s logo draws inspiration from Half Dome, in Yosemite National Park. 

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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Focus Your Food & Beverage Innovation on Your Brand’s Promise

In a recent client meeting where we were discussing potential new product opportunities, the CFO threw out a quote from Confucius: “The man who chases two rabbits catches neither.”

His words prompted me to think deeply about the intersection between brand strategy and innovation.

Some food and beverage brands manage to out-innovate their strategy, to launch products that deviate so far from the brand’s mission and promise that they a) don’t make any sense and b) confuse the consumer. (Think, for example, of a beloved luxury ice cream brand extending into probiotic dairy-free plant-based frozen treats. Two different rabbits.)

Others risk overlooking meaningful opportunities to develop a new product offering because it falls outside the known audience and their understood needs.

So what’s the right balance? It’s a timely question because we’ve predicted that the coming 12 months post-pandemic will be a boom time for innovation in natural food and beverage brands.

With this article and the next, we’ll try to answer the question, sharing our insights on when it’s best to chase just one rabbit and when it’s smart to pursue both.

Innovation Yields Opportunity

When we talk about innovation, we mean real research and development to yield new products, not just line extension with a new chocolate peanut butter flavor. True innovation requires that brand leaders are disciplined in two areas. First, they deeply understand their audience, both current and future, and how the brand meets needs that these consumers don’t yet know they have.

Second, they are committed to anchoring R&D in brand strategy, which means that they grasp what we call the “range of acceptable stretch.” (That means how far you can push your product line in a way that makes sense to your audience.)

Businesses are pressed for growth like never before. The chief growth officer (CGO) has surpassed the CMO on the corporate food chain and in this new organizational hierarchy, the CGO (not the CMO or COO) is responsible for marketing and innovation. Companies are bringing in a bunch of really smart people and task them with finding opportunities (we’re big fans of using Blue Ocean Strategy as a catalyst for new product development). If you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Sometimes they stumble on an idea that’s so outside their existing audience and promise that it would be problematic to implement under the current brand umbrella. (If this is you, stay tuned for our forthcoming article.)

Go Narrow, Go Deep, Be Relevant

Given all this activity, chances are good you’ll unearth a few ideas that do fit with your brand’s ethos and fall within that range of acceptable stretch. And those offer strong potential for ROI.

Generally, we guide our clients to focus their innovation around brand strategy and scenario planning that addresses their current and future buyers’ need states. Becoming a Beloved & Dominant Brand requires focus and an ownable point of view that resonates with critical audiences.

Throwing a bunch of quasi- (or not at all) related SKUs on the shelf dilutes the brand’s position, confuses your consumers, and opens you up the risk of losing fans, market share, and velocity. You’ll become more susceptible to competition and over-rely on your leading SKU to offset weaker products.

Instead, go narrow, go deep, and be relevant—for the win!

Being too narrow or niche-y is scary for most CMOs. Best practices tell us that broader is safer. With performance pressure from above, marketers tend to hedge their bets by offering a bunch of stuff instead of honing in on a lineup that’s strongly relevant to their audience. Call it FOMO — fear of missing opportunity: What if there’s an ingredient we didn’t think about or a technology we didn’t know about or an adjacent product we didn’t add?

Marketers assume that the goal is to be in the consumer’s consideration set; you have a 1 in 10 chance of being purchased, which is better than not being purchased at all. Even sophisticated marketers buy that theory, but we think it’s a fallacy. If you’re always the preference and never an alternative — the position of a Beloved & Dominant Brand — you’ll be purchased every time. Brands that build stark-raving fandoms do not pursue general audiences. They have earned their loyalists through the discipline of going narrow, becoming preferred, and evangelized by their tribe.

Plenty of brands do narrow and deep exceptionally well, like these:

Highkey understands the principle of solving the same problem in so many delicious ways for the same narrow group. The team came to us for help rationalizing a massive list of potential products into a logical, manageable range upon which to grow the brand. Together, we repositioned Highkey from keto dudes to on-the-go moms looking for great-tasting snacks that wouldn’t wreck their diets. It’s a focused audience, a tight use case, and yet a wide range of products.

Anser is a still-new brand of supplements and wellness products aimed at women of color, who’ve historically been overlooked by the industry. We helped them launch with an aim to make a self-care routine for multiethnic women, and now they’re line extending like crazy with a whole bunch of new products for the same focused need state.

Reser’s Fine Foods is a family-owned Pacific Northwest brand that creates prepared foods for the grocery deli case. They’re super focused on a consumer segment with a common need: people attending a potluck or barbecue who want something reliably delicious to share, and families who need something good and easy for dinner. Within that focus, they have wide latitude to innovate; their product offering ranges from salads and dips to heat-and-eat side dishes.

Given the fire hose of innovation at many companies, you’ll likely pump out lots of great options, and you may want to pursue multiple opportunities at the same time. The problem is that instead of doing one thing well and staking out mindshare with key groups of humans, you risk spreading thinly across multiple categories, solving groups of unrelated problems for different audiences.

Brand strategy is the discipline of narrowly defining who you are, what your contribution will be, and then making a series of decisions to keep your promises in a way that other brands can’t or won’t. And that strategy should underpin the choices you make about what to add to your portfolio.

In other words, chase one rabbit and you’ll catch him.

But … what if that second rabbit is simply too appealing to ignore? What if your thorough innovation process spots an opportunity — a new product aligned with an unmet need among a different audience — that has enormous bottom-line potential?

We’ll dive into that in our next article.

In the meantime, we’re always happy to talk innovation, so give us a ring.

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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From Orchard to Table featuring Pam Montgomery, Chukar Cherries

“If you can understand how to learn and you have a learning mindset all the time, you can pretty much do anything.” – Pam Montgomery 

This week on the Gooder Podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Pam Montgomery, the founder and CEO of Chukar Cherries – a pioneer in boutique food processing, that turned Pacific Northwest cherries into a global gifting brand. We discuss the history of Chukar Cherries and the a-ha moment of Pam’s product idea, including the acquisition of chocolate making “tools” from a famous chocolatier. We also learn about Pam’s leadership for driving an inclusive workplace. Along the way, we hear the amazing journey of a dedicated woman who lead the way in clean food processing, environmental stewardship, equity, and has a deep passion for the agricultural community of Central Washington State. 

In this episode we learn: 

  • About the history and inspiration of Chukar Cherries. 
  • The stories of hunting for and finding THE right ingredients and tools to make a premium delicious gifting chocolate. (pre-internet!) 
  • How she uses her real-estate back-experience to grow her brand. 
  • Pam’s emphasis on inclusivity, team fulfillment and leadership in Chukar’s workplace culture. 
  • How “box-checking” isn’t the path to growth. 
  • How the pandemic has impacted the business and the opportunities that came along with it. 
  • The drivers behind the trend of biodegradable and compostable packaging in her business. 
Gooder Podcast

From Orchard to Table featuring Pam Montgomery, Chukar Cherries

About Pam Montgomery: 

Pam Montgomery started multiple businesses in her 20’s, but it was in Northwest cherries, chocolate & wine in the late 80’s that she found her calling.  

Early childhood tragedy accelerated Pam’s self-reliance, independence, and problem-solving. She was just shy of 5 years old when her mother died of polio. Her older sisters and newborn brother were sent to live with relatives in California, but Pam stayed with her father—a forester for Weyerhaeuser stationed in a tiny logging community outside of Olympia, WA. On weekdays, Pam and her dad would climb into the work truck and drive into the mountains, walking for hours inspecting new tree plantings. The family was eventually re-united, and Pam’s French-Canadian grandmother cared for Pam and her siblings for several years, during which homemade soup, fruit pie, and suet pudding were the heart of the home.  

Fast forward to 1988: Pam and her young family escaped the bustle of Seattle to purchase the largest family-owned cherry orchard in Washington State. 8000 trees and three daughters (under the age of four) later, she had an idea. On her daily walk around the orchard, Pam noticed that cherries left on the tree after harvest increased in natural sugar while slowly dehydrating. Their flavor was incomparable! A question nagged her, why couldn’t cherries be dried without adding sugar for a healthy year ‘round snack?   

At the time, no one was drying cherries without preservatives, sulfites, or added sugars. Pam reached out to UC Davis—the research center for California’s raisin and prune industries. They told her it could not be done. Undeterred, Pam started experimenting on her own and found that the natural sugars in a cherry that was allowed to fully ripen on the tree were sufficient. Pam began dehydrating Bing & Rainier cherries with no added ingredients whatsoever.    

Later, on a trip to London, Pam visited the famous Harrods department store and their huge art deco confectionery hall filled with European fruits—preserved and chocolate covered. Visually, it was stunning, and the naturally dried dark sweet cherries covered in chocolate astonished her. She purchased a jar to take home as inspiration to create a Pacific Northwest chocolate-covered cherry. 

Over the next three decades Chukar’s product line blossomed from naturally dried & chocolate covered cherries to cherry & nut energy snacks, fruitful preserves & sauces, baked goods & granola, and now regional wine & chocolate pairings—all made with clean ingredients and local cherries.  When the pandemic stopped many businesses in their tracks, Chukar continued in their capacity as a food processor, selling their goods at CHUKAR.COM  

Since 1988 Pam has remained the creative force in Chukar Cherries—creating a team culture committed to excellence in product development, customer retention, and sustainability.  

Perhaps Pam’s greatest contribution has been mentorship within her company. Notably, she’s willing to “take a chance” and hire young people in whom she sees potential, regardless of their level of experience. 

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pam-montgomery-0b666715/ 

Email: Pam@Chukar.com 

Website: http://www.chukar.com/ 

Show Resources: 

The University of California, Davis is a public land-grant research university near Davis, California. Named a Public Ivy, it is the northernmost of the ten campuses of the University of California system.   

Harrods Limited is a department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London, England. It is owned by the state of Qatar via its sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority.  

The Guittard Chocolate Company is an American-based chocolate maker which produces couverture chocolate, using original formulas and traditional French methods. The company is headquartered in Burlingame, California.  

AT&T Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate holding company, Delaware-registered but it is headquartered at Whitacre Tower in Downtown Dallas, Texas. It is the world’s largest telecommunications company, and the second largest provider of mobile telephone services.   

Battelle Memorial Institute (or Battelle) is a private nonprofit applied science and technology development company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. 

Whole Foods Market, Inc. is an American multinational supermarket chain headquartered in Austin, Texas, which 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.  

Amazon.com, Inc. is an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.   

Food & Wine Classic in Aspen is a culinary event that consists of three incredible days of cooking demonstrations, wine tastings and panel discussions by world-class chefs and wine experts.

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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Compostable Packaging Is HOT featuring Kate Flynn, Sun & Swell Foods

“Meeting the needs of the consumer and meeting the needs of the environment sometimes is tricky.” – Kate Flynn 

This week on the Gooder Podcast, I had the pleasure of talking with Kate Flynn, the founder and CEO of Sun & Swell Foods. We discuss the history of Sun & Swell Foods – one of the first food and snacking brands leading the way in the use of compostable packaging. We also learn about the evolvement of sustainable packaging and Kate’s leadership in driving this hot topic. Along the way, we learn the amazing journey of a passionate leader in creating more inclusive, accessible, and affordable real food products for all consumers. 

In this episode we learn: 

  • About the history and inspiration of Sun & Swell Foods. 
  • Sun & Swell’s brand transition from a traditional CPG brand to a direct-to-consumer brand. 
  • Kate’s journey from being a consultant in a firm focused on retail and consumer products to having a CPG brand herself.
  • The evolvement of compostable packaging technology.
  • How to create accessibility, affordability for mainstream consumers in the healthy food category.
  • The advice she finds herself consistently giving entrepreneurs who have family members or loved ones as their business partners.
Gooder Podcast

Compostable Packaging Is HOT featuring Kate Flynn, Sun & Swell Foods

About Kate Flynn: 

In 2017, Kate Flynn, and her husband and co-founder, Bryan Flynn, launched their natural food company, Sun & Swell Foods. Their mission is to make healthy and sustainable eating more accessible with their collection of sustainably-packaged, organic, plant-based pantry staples and snacks. Sun & Swell is the first food company in the US to offer a wide array of healthy foods in compostable, plastic-free packaging. 

With a background in business economics and nutrition and a penchant for creating her own healthy snacks, Kate brings a unique set of skills to Sun & Swell Foods.  Early on, she pursued her academic career at UC Santa Barbara and graduated with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Harvard Business School. Kate’s professional career included a consulting role as a brand strategist in the retail and consumer products space, where she focused on brand and growth strategy for various leading CPG brands. After spending nearly ten years in the consumer products world, she was looking to do something more purposeful and fulfilling that would positively impact the world. In 2017, Kate took a leap of faith to follow her real passion for health and wellness to start Sun & Swell Foods with Bryan.  

Leading up to this, Kate had switched to a more natural lifestyle, including eating only ‘whole foods.’ She realized that eating a whole food diet made her feel better, both physically and mentally, and realized that she wanted to keep eating this way. However, when she looked around for packaged foods to accommodate this new way of eating, she realized there were no options available. Most packaged foods are made with artificial ingredients and loaded with added sugars, preservatives, and flavors. This realization sparked an idea, and Sun & Swell Foods was born. 

When sourcing ingredients, Kate and her team buy organic ingredients as close to the source and farm as possible, seeking out small family farms. Sun & Swell is a Certified B-Corporation and a member of 1% for the Planet, donating 1% of the revenue to environmental non-profits addressing two areas the founders are deeply passionate about: regenerative farming and ocean health.  

When not running the company’s day-to-day, Kate loves frequenting Santa Barbara’s local farmers’ markets and beaches and spending time with her husband and newborn daughter, Leila. Kate is also a Certified Culinary Nutrition Expert. 

Guests Social Media Links: 

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kate-flynn-15187726/ 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kateflynn1/?hl=en 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sunandswellfoods/ 

Website: https://sunandswellfoods.com/ 

Show Resources: 

Certified B Corporations are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. This is a community of leaders, driving a global movement of people using business as a force for good. 

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. 

Kurt Salmon was a global management and strategy consulting firm formed by the merger of Ineum Consulting and Kurt Salmon Associates in January 2011. 

Accenture plc is an Irish-domiciled multinational company that provides consulting and processing services. A Fortune Global 500 company, it reported revenues of $44.33 billion in 2020 and had 537,000 employees. In 2015, the company had about 150,000 employees in India, 48,000 in the US, and 50,000 in the Philippines. 

Clif Bar & Company is an American company that produces energy foods and drinks. The company’s flagship product, CLIF Bar, was created by Gary Erickson and Lisa Thomas. The company is based in Emeryville, California, and is privately held. 

Trader Joe’s is a German-owned chain of grocery stores in the United States headquartered in Monrovia, California. By 2015, it was a competitor in “fresh format” grocery stores in the United States. By November 2019, Trader Joe’s had over 503 stores nationwide in 42 states and Washington, D.C. 

For over 50 years, ECOS’ mission has been to protect the health & wellness of people, pets, & the planet with sustainable & affordable cleaning products. 

Walmart Inc. is an American multinational retail corporation that operates a chain of hypermarkets, discount department stores, and grocery stores from the United States, headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas. 

Costco Wholesale Corporation is an American multinational corporation which operates a chain of membership-only big-box retail stores. As of 2020, Costco was the fifth largest retailer in the world and the world’s largest retailer of choice and prime beef, organic foods, rotisserie chicken, and wine as of 2016. 

The Kroger Company, or simply Kroger, is an American retail company founded by Bernard Kroger in 1883 in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the United States’ largest supermarket by revenue, and the second-largest general retailer. 

The United States Food and Drug Administration is a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

In 2009, Tory Burch launched the Tory Burch Foundation to advance women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship in the United States by providing access to capital, education and digital resources, as well as a Fellowship program. 

Tea Drops are organic whole leaf tea shaped into fun drops that melt into finely ground plant fibre. 

Peloton Interactive, Inc. is an American exercise equipment and media company based in New York City. It was founded in 2012 by John Foley and launched with help from a Kickstarter funding campaign in 2013.

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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What’s in a Name? Your Brand’s Mission and Meaning

A brand name, in and of itself, is meaningless. Think of it as a vessel into which you pour meaning—your capital-B Brand: The promises you make to the world and the ways in which you keep them.

A powerful brand name carries all kinds of weight. It becomes shorthand for everything you stand for. It creates a halo over your product line, even as it expands. It’s a marker that allows people who are in the fan club to identify one another. It’s the single word jotted on a shopping list.

But names have to earn that cred over time. It’s not like Oreo instantly connoted childhood and treats and dunking in milk the moment the brand was launched in 1912. Those associations affixed to the name over many years.

Too, there may come a point in a brand’s life cycle where the name and the mission no longer synchronize. And a change may be needed.

These days, the barriers to entry in the food and beverage space are low, and brands are emerging from the depths of Amazon. If you’re launching or renaming, we’ll share some guidance.

Great (and Not So Great) Brand Names

Let’s explore some examples to demonstrate our thinking here:

What Does This Even Mean?

Some brand names truly are empty vessels: devoid of meaning until marketers—or, more accurately, consumers—give it one.

Apple
Oreo
Chobani

Name = Product Attributes

When brands launch with a singular product, they often adopt the product as the imprimatur for the larger company. (Watch out: As market opportunities arise, the product-as-brand naming convention becomes self-limiting.)

Brad’s Kale Chips
Keto Naturals
Hippeas
IQBAR

Brand as Biography

Other brands associate with a charismatic founder, whose personality represents the mission in the marketplace. These face-of-the-brand names can be successful as long as the person remains in good public standing and as long as the founder doesn’t become an obstacle to the brand’s success.

Newman’s Own
Annie’s
Bob’s Red Mill

Brand Names We Love

The strongest brand names are those that consumers can “get” in a second, yet broad enough that the company can grow logically into new categories.

One of our favorite brand names is Califia. You only need to hear the story of the mythical goddess of California and protector of the environment for whom the brand is named once—and it’s easy to extrapolate from that all of the brand’s values around wellness, quality, and sustainability. Califia started as a juice company; now it’s known as a plant-based dairy alternative company.

Likewise, the inspiration behind the name Nike—the Greek goddess of victory—perfectly encapsulates the brand’s mission to support athletes of all types in pursuit of their highest potential. That mission is laser-focused, yet roomy enough to allow for a huge assortment of products.

KINDa client of ours, is another superior brand name. The healthy snack brand advocates kindness to body and planet—and to your tastebuds. The name is a no-brainer, and it naturally attracts an audience of fans who identify with the brand’s mission.

Naming/Renaming? Do Strategy First

Notice anything about the three examples above? The brands’ names and value systems perfectly align.

Before you concoct or change a name, you’d better have your mission in place. And if you’re struggling with mission, here’s how to get started on a real, actionable mission (as opposed to a cut-copy-paste mission statement).

There are plenty of business name generators online, and those are fine for jump-starting your research and brainstorming process—but you’ll still have to do the hard work to define a meaningful moniker. If you’re launching a new brand and developing a name from scratch, think big and long-term, as if you’re carving it in stone rather than applying it to a package.

Come up with a word or phrase that’s broad enough to accommodate future stretches to your lineup, channel, or category. If you’re going for a totally made-up word, it has to “read” quickly; you don’t want to look at it a week after you launch and think, “what were we thinking?” From a business standpoint, the name must be defensible and ownable; from a linguistics standpoint, it should be satisfying to pronounce and easy to spell.

In the naturals space, where food and beverage products lean on functional nutrition and specialized, niche-y ingredients, it’s easy for leaders to think a little too “inside the ropes” when developing a name for a new brand. We look at the name Soylent as one that’s too clever for its own good: Those in the know get the reference to the dystopian novel and film, but the ick factor is too much to overcome for consumers just discovering the brand for the first time.

Fixing an unworkable name is far harder than naming a new brand. If consumers just don’t understand it, or it’s holding the business back from larger opportunity, or if there’s some kind of cultural baggage around the name, the problem will eventually show up on the bottom line—loss of traction, retailer discontinuation, increased competition. Marketers think they can spend their way out of the jam—throwing dollars at advertising or repackaging to overcome consumer misperceptions—then come to us for help.

For example, the founding team behind the clean popcorn maker Buddha Bowl tapped into their fondness for yoga when they developed the brand. While the signature buddha character on the bag resonated with Whole Foods shoppers, other retailers shied away because of an implied religious affiliation. We helped them pivot away from the name—and brought forward the parent company name, Lesser Evil. We reimagined the character on the pack and evolved the Lesser Evil brand signature. As a result, the company launched four new product lines and generated 50% topline growth in the first year.

Names keyed to the product category are also problematic, as our client Living Intentions discovered. The maker of raw, living foods rocked it in the raw food section at Whole Foods—but when the retailer decategorized raw foods and shelved products alongside conventional brands, Living Intentions’ velocity suffered. They came to us asking for a packaging upgrade; we realized that only a small segment of shoppers would understand what raw food means. We consolidated their raw and sprouted products under a new nameplate, Activated, which clarified the products’ purpose and benefits. It’s now the dominant brand of activated superfoods at Whole Foods.

If your brand is struggling to find an audience or facing stiff competition, the name may be to blame. How do you know? And what do you do about it? We can help you answer those questions.

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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The Retail Perch: Interview with Diana Fryc of Retail Voodoo

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.

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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The World Is About to Change (Again); Is Your Brand Ready?

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.

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 and Beverage Brands: Enlist Your Retail Reps as Powerful Allies

Recently, a client of ours had a category review meeting with a certain retailer to pitch a group of new products. The retail buyers picked the client’s concept apart and demanded a whole bunch of changes. Our client’s team was dejected but persistent. They set a follow-up meeting, and we helped them refine their presentations to just three slides that powerfully and simply explained the new offering and why it would rock. They walked out with a signed purchase order. No packaging or ingredient changes required.

You’ve probably been in these category reviews with your retail partners. And dreaded them.

We hear you. Many brands come to us and say that the feedback they get during category reviews with multiple retailers is overwhelming and contradictory. This retailer input may wield an outsized impact on your brand and packaging design. Your team feels like a ping pong ball getting whacked around by buyers with competing interests and conflicting directives.

Understand Your Retail Buyer’s Business

Why does this happen? To answer that question, let’s step into the retail buyer’s world.

The category manager within the retail company is under immense pressure to get her category to perform well and make as much margin through as much velocity as possible. Her job keys on finding stuff that will move quickly and drive profit. And the people she reports to—the retailer’s chain of command—are merciless and swift in making changes should she be less than successful. In other words, it’s not just your butt on the line in these review meetings; it’s hers.

And while your sales team thinks your brand is the center of the universe, it’s one of many the category manager deals with. (If you dread these review meetings, know that she has them with other brands, nearly every week.) So she’s constantly hearing similar pitches from other brands. And she has to make smart decisions about which products to carry, and where, and how. She’s not looking for another product that will cannibalize existing strong performers. It’s not like there’s an empty slot anywhere; she needs for you to bring something to the retailer that will increase sales or replace a flat/declining brand.

Category managers are busy people. Make it easy for them—period, end of story.

Make the Retail Buyer Your Friend, Not Your Nemesis

Here’s another thing to understand about these retail managers: Most of them are passionate about the category, too. They use products like yours. They want you to succeed—partly because that means they’ll succeed, but also because they’re fans of your brand and others like it.

So your sales and marketing teams’ focus should be on wooing these channel partners. Around here, we talk all the time about showing consumers the love—and yes, that is essential. You must constantly seek to widen the circle of adoring fans that your brand connects with. That’s how growth happens.

But growth can’t happen if you can’t get onto retail shelves. (Also onto Amazon results pages, but that’s a different animal.)

A few points of advice on enlisting retailers in your brand’s success:

1) Your sales team and their pitch have to be underpinned by a real brand story and mission. If there’s no there there, your products will get discontinued. Why? A powerful purpose attracts consumers like moths to the flame, which translates into velocity and margin for the retailer.

2) Bonus points if you can convince the buyer to love you just as much as your fans do. Buyers aren’t lacking data; they lack brands that they can believe in, brands that have done their homework and crafted a meaningful story about their purpose and products and how they fit with the consumer’s life.

3) Without a mission, you open the door to nitpicking. If you don’t have a brand position, all they have to push back on is your packaging or logo or flavor profile. That’s when you get all the conflicting feedback that makes you nuts.

4) Retail buyers can be key collaborators in your brand strategy process. And when you turn their input into products, they’ll be the first to place an order. Don’t just go in and say, here’s our thing, what do you think? Make a short, succinct case for the brand’s impact and the product’s likelihood of success. If they believe that you have something to offer that will displace something else and boost their section, then they’ll want to like you more.

5) Finally, strong retail relationships can boost your business in other ways. Managers are category experts: They see sales figures, they know what’s moving, they have access to their company’s deep consumer insights. And they’re meeting with other brands, so they know what your competitors have in the pipeline. If you want to get inside the ropes and lean on that knowledge, you to have a relationship with them. It’s not in a retail manager’s best interest to share what’s going on in your category or adjacent ones, so you have to have a great connection in order to tap into that insight.

Relationships with these retail managers are essential, and nurturing them requires that your reps are regularly meeting with them in person. Use your brand positioning and supporting data to help them see the opportunity for them. Buyers want to know that it will be “easy” to increase sales and keep their superiors happy. Your job is to help them.

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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Massive Innovation is Coming to Food and Beverage. Is Your Brand Ready?

2021 will launch more innovation at one time than we’ve seen in a while. Here’s how to prepare your brand for the competition.

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

Download this white paper to learn how to:

  • Understand where you are in the Brand Life Cycle.
  • Capitalize on the innovation boom in food and beverage.
  • Prioritize consumer-facing communication to increase brand relevance for your best-performing products.
  • Identify two types of innovation and decide what makes sense for your brand.

Get this exclusive report brought to you by Retail Voodoo, the branding firm who has helped Essentia, KIND, Russell Stover, Sahale Snacks, HighKey, 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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When Comfort and Innovation Collide featuring Tanu Grewal, ALEN Group

Gooder Podcast featuring Tanu Grewal

“You have to be so progressive to be able to go against the norm.” – Tanu Grewal

This week on the Gooder Podcast I had the pleasure of talking with Tanu Grewal, the Vice President of Marketing, Innovation, and E-commerce for AIEn, USA. We discuss how and why a company that has traditionally targeted a conventional consumer decided to tackle green cleaning by developing the new Art of Green brand. We also learn how the brand’s innovation and marketing will target some trial and conversion issues of many of the most hesitant conventional consumers. Along the way, we learn the story of a feisty and inquisitive leader who brings a contrarian view of leadership, innovation, and life to every opportunity and conversation.

In this episode we learn:

– A little background about the newest green cleaning brand called Art of Green.
– About assumptions and missed opportunities that the green cleaning industry
should be tapping into related to consumer adoption.
– How the years of working in a parallel industry allows her to approach the
category and production innovation in a new way.
– Why aroma is a big driver of category success.
– How to extend the life of your job title beyond the magic 18-month timeframe.

Gooder Podcast

When Comfort and Innovation Collide featuring Tanu Grewal, ALEN Group

About Tanu Grewal:

Tanu is a global brand builder and strategic marketer with over 15 years of experience working in mature and emerging markets like US, EMEA, and India with companies in the CPG, durables, luxury, and hospitality industries. She is passionate about using brand purpose to help drive innovation and marketing that creates real value and emotional engagement with consumers.

Reporting to the CEO, Tanu is currently the Vice President of Marketing & Innovation at AlEn USA, a growth stage division of the global ALEN Group. One of her top achievements in this role has been the launch of a natural, green cleaning brand called ‘Art of Green’ that just won the prestigious Product of the Year award. Prior to this, Tanu has worked on iconic brands like Kohler, Maytag, and Whirlpool where she elevated commodity categories to lifestyle brands through a combination of award-winning
product design, disruptive innovation, and experiential marketing.

Starting her career with Whirlpool North America, Tanu held a variety of marketing and product development positions over 8 years including an ex-pat stint in Italy. Tanu holds an MBA degree from Rice University in Houston.

Outside of work, Tanu is passionate about creating communities that enable people to thrive. Currently, she serves on the International Student Advisory Board at Rice University and as a board member for the South Asian Women’s Professional Network.

As a public speaker, Tanu’s topics include launching and scaling a challenger brand and standing out in a crowded market through creative marketing. As an Indian woman, living in the US and working for a Mexican company (AlEn), she also speaks on navigating multicultural work and market landscapes. Tanu has been interviewed by Forbes and delivered the keynote address for Coke FEMSA’s Annual D&I conference in
Mexico City, Women’s Masters Network’s Annual Meetup 2020 and the Houston AMA’s Quarterly Luncheon.

An avid traveler and consummate foodie, Tanu lives in Houston with her husband and son.

Guests Social Media Links:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tanugrewal/
Website: http://www.alenusa.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tanu_Grewal
Personal Website: http://tanugrewal.com/

Books Mentioned:

Unfinished: A Memoir by Priyanka Chopra – From her dual-continent twenty-year-long career as an actor and producer to her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, from losing her beloved father to cancer to marrying Nick Jonas, Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s story will inspire a generation around the world to gather their courage, embrace their ambition, and commit to the hard work of following their dreams.

Show Resources:

The Art of Green –  product line offers consumers an affordable and high-performing natural cleaning alternative that is priced for everyday use.

Kohler Co. – founded in 1873 by John Michael Kohler, is an American manufacturing company based in Kohler, Wisconsin. Kohler is best known for its plumbing products, but the company also manufactures furniture, cabinetry, tile, engines, and generators.

The Maytag Corporation –  is an American home and commercial appliance brand owned by Whirlpool Corporation after the April 2006 acquisition of Maytag.

The Whirlpool Corporation–  is a multinational manufacturer and marketer of home appliances, headquartered in Benton Charter Township, Michigan, United States.

South Asian Women’s Professional Network (SAWPN) – SAWPN was created to bring together and engage women across various industries, nationally. Our goal is to build a strong networking base to support, mentor, and celebrate successful, strong, and vibrant women across the country and within our communities.

HINT – an American beverage company based in San Francisco, California, as an alternative to soda and sugar beverages. It was started by former AOL employee Kara Goldin.

Amazon.com, Inc. – an American multinational technology company based in Seattle, Washington, which focuses on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.

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