Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Front Page News

The consumer packaged goods industry is ever-changing. Lately, a few headlines have caught my eye that accurately summarize the business. Here's just a sampling of the issues impacting the food and beverage CPG trade.

General Mills' Groupon debut sells out within hours - Clipping coupons isn't enough for today's consumer. With online deals from Groupon, LivingSocial, Eversave, and more, shoppers expect online coupon deals and discounts, not only through these services, but also from brand pages on Facebook and instantly via Foursquare check-ins. Last week, General Mills was the first CPG company to offer any kind of deal on Groupon, normally reserved for local restaurant and spa deals. Given the success, though (the offer sold out in a matter of hours), expect to see more promotions from retailers and food and beverage CPG companies in the future.

How Kraft's Lunchables Is Evolving in the Anti-Obesity Era - Obesity (in particular, childhood obesity) will remain a hot topic for the next several years. As food manufacturers look for ways to reduce calories and sodium, remove trans fat, and add more whole grains to foods, their progress in this area will continue to make headlines as tried and true recipes and formulas change to accommodate today's health conscious consumer. This was certainly the case when Kraft announced at the beginning of the month that its Lunchables brand, a staple in lunchrooms across schools throughout America, was getting a makeover, complete with more wholesome choices and nutritious options.

Dean Foods to cut corporate jobs, largely in Dallas - Bad news out of Texas, where Dallas-based Dean Foods announced job cuts at its corporate headquarters two weeks ago. The dairy producer will most likely join a list of other food and beverage CPG manufacturers to adjust its workforce this year, given financial factors including rising food prices, higher fuel costs, and the evolving economy.

Why Most Product Launches Fail - I've written numerous entries on this blog pertaining to new products that manage to overcome the odds of a new product launch and become successful in the marketplace. That's why, when I saw this article in this month's Harvard Business Review, I wanted to share it, given the enormous effort companies must tackle to launch a thriving new product.

What headlines have you seen recently pertaining to the shift in retail and food and beverage CPG industries?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter's On Its Way

We're just days away from Easter, and for weeks now, holiday candy has been lining store shelves. Favorites including Peeps, jellybeans, and chocolates shaped like bunnies and eggs are ready for baskets for children of all ages.

The National Confectioners Association says Easter is the second top-selling confectionery holiday behind only Halloween, with 90 million chocolate bunnies and 16 billion jellybeans made each year, just for Easter. With so much candy produced for the holiday, it's no wonder that Easter sweets and treats are used for more than filling baskets.

Every year, two newspapers, The Washington Post and the St. Paul Pioneer Press, host Peeps diorama contests. Entrants depict scenes from pop culture, movies, and significant events in the past year, all starring Peeps. Year after year, the winners from both papers are clever, cute, and creative.

Washington Post Winners:

Pioneer Press Winners:

If you were to line all the Easter jellybeans end to end, they would circle the globe nearly three times. If you think that's too much sugary goodness to eat, you're not alone, which is why perhaps the most famous jellybean maker, Jelly Belly found another use for its flavorful candies – murals. Try creating a mural of your family in their Easter bonnets this Sunday.

Finally, The Hershey Company is synonymous with Easter, distributing pastel-wrapped Kisses and Cadbury Crème Eggs on behalf of the Easter Bunny. If you've eaten enough candy, however, the company has craft ideas to help you celebrate the holiday and decorate your home in style.

What creative uses for Easter candy have you seen? Leave a message to tell me more, and "hoppy" Easter!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Change of Pace

Food manufacturers introduce hundreds of new food and beverage products every year. From pre-packaged meals to flavored waters to bubble gum, retailers line store shelves with new items. Only the most innovative goods that fill a void in the market survive. Of those, only the best of the best earn the SymphonyIRI Group New Product Pacesetters award showcasing the year's most successful new CPG brands.

Now in its 13th consecutive year, the annual report highlights the most successful consumer packaged goods products launched in the past year. The 2010 product winners are as follows:

POWERADE® ION4® is an advanced electrolyte system in POWERADE® that helps replenish four electrolytes lost in sweat. The sports drink earned $190.5 million in its first year.

Chobani, an all-natural Greek yogurt with no preservatives and no artificial flavors. The yogurt is made with real fruit and has twice the protein of regular yogurts. The dairy treat made $149.4 million in 2010.

Wonderful Pistachios are tasty shelled nuts backed by a creative advertising campaign. Last year, shoppers bought $114.1 million worth of the snack.

glaceau vitaminwater zero is a calorie-free version of the original line of vitaminwater drinks. The bottled beverage comes in seven flavors and is sweetened with Truvia. In 2010, the drink brought in $110.3 million.

Nature's Pride, with its 100 percent natural ingredients, comes in an assortment of forms, including soft breads, hearty breads, ovenclassics, and premium harvest buns and rolls. The bread line earned $80.8 million last year.

Trop50 juices contain 50 percent less sugar and calories. Sweetened with Stevia, Trop50 comes in eight varieties, including orange juice, apple juice, and lemonade. Total 2010 sales topped $74.4 million.

Thomas' Better Start English Muffins have less calories and more fiber with the same great Thomas' English Muffin taste. Last year, consumers purchased $74.2 million of the breakfast food.

Green Mountain Coffee K-Cups made $62.1 million in 2010 – its first year on the market. Made for Keurig single brew coffee makers, the gourmet coffee comes in a range of flavors.

Adults 21 and older enjoyed Budweiser Select 55 to the tune of $59.9 million in sales last year. The premium light beer boasts just 55 calories per bottle.

Trident Layers sugar free gum sandwiches a chewy fruit flavored center in between two soft pieces of Trident gum. Buyers chewed $53.9 million of the gum in 2010.

SymphonyIRI Group claims the "New Product Pacesetters are best practice case studies in how to beat the new product launch odds." To find the entire list of winners, including the non-food awardees, visit CSP Information Group, Inc., news for convenience and petroleum retailing.

Which of these items are your favorites? Keep your eyes open in the coming year, because you never know which of this year's items will be the next set of Product Pacesetters!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Love It or Hate It

I admit it. I'm a hater. When it comes to Miracle Whip, I am not a fan. The brains behind this product, though, think this is okay; apparently, you either love or hate this creamy condiment that's not mayonnaise, but rather a salad dressing and sandwich spread. It's such a controversial topic that the brand wants consumers to take a stand and become a part of the debate.

Miracle Whip is currently running a unique and innovative advertising and social media campaign, encouraging fans to confess their love for the item. Or, if they absolutely hate the product, say so! And, for those who haven't tried Miracle Whip yet, Kraft Foods is offering a free sample of the loud and tangy topping. The brand readily admits its product is not for everyone.

Watch all of the commercials for the "Are You Miracle Whip?" campaign to get both sides of the argument on YouTube.

So where do stand? Are you a lover or a hater? More importantly, what advertising campaigns have you seen for food and beverage consumer packaged goods that have gone out on a limb like this? Pretty creative in my opinion!