Produce Pop Ups – The Boutique Shopping Experience

With Christmas right around the corner and talk of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the retail world is also anticipating this season’s most exciting Pop Up stores. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Pop Up’s, they are temporary retail spaces that “pop up” in high traffic metropolitan areas and offer a unique shopping experience for products not commonly offered in traditional standalone retail shops or products or brands looking to create buzz worthy experiences. Even if the products are traditional consumer goods, showcasing them in a unique new environment shines new light on otherwise unnoticed goods.

Seasonal holidays (particularly Christmas) and movie premiers have often commanded the most attention for pop ups and brands, but the popup experience does not need to be relegated to only high fashion, big brands or hit movies. Pop ups are about experiential marketing and the opportunity to connect with consumers and we think there are some wild opportunities for food to create their own buzz worthy experiences in this unique space. Can you see a Pop Up retailer selling all the fixings for a turkey dinner with in-store cooking lessons, or maybe Haute Produce Shops with vegetable butchers and fruit mixologists creating delightful dishes.

In fact, this article from Huff Post featuring “The Real Apple Store” gives us an idea of what is possible when we think outside our traditional retail box and into a new retail box space. London’s Borough Market recently re-created the history of apple varieties in an Applesque Store setting similar to electronics giant Apple to celebrate their Apple Day festival.

Our world is cluttered with messaging and engaging content and experiences are great ways to connect with consumers and get on the viral media channels for long enough to create awareness and generate early sales or much needed buzz. Some of our favorite Pop Up experiences include the following.

The North Face – “Never Stop Exploring” – when shopping becomes an actual challenge the brand is a real experience.

Diet Coke – Live Tastefully a partnership Pop Up with Culinary Institute of America showed a beautiful example of product integrating into lifestyle.


And of course Ikea showed us what it was like to offer a Pop Up apartment to promote their new store opening in Brooklyn.

Remember that a Pop Up should not be like every other store. Attention to detail and great design culminated by a memorable user experience is key. It’s also important to recognize that every experiential marketing opportunity needs to channel the brand and have a follow-up plan to continue to keep consumers engaged, but Pop Up’s can be the buzz boost your brand needs.

Want to think outside the box about how your brand can generate some buzz worthy attention, drop us an email and let’s pop up some ideas.

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Consumer Trends for 2015

With the end of 2014 fast approaching, media gurus, futurists, economists and big business are busy evaluating what’s hot and what’s not – but most importantly, what trends are expected to drive sales and consumer influence in the new year. Take a look at these topline trends and stay tuned for more information and details on key trends and how you can apply them in your business.

Consumer Trends

Device Mania
Technology is driving our world and has evolved not only because of our smartphones, but also in addition to our smartphones. New devices for work, home and personal use have fueled our appetite for convenience, control and data; think smartphone controlled remote thermostats and Fitbits to name just a few.


U.S Smartphone Users


The Virtual Spend

The traditional store shopping model is gone. The emergence of online shopping has grown from traditional hardware, big-ticket items to even perishable foods. The fight for share of wallet between brick and mortar stores, online shopping outlets like Amazon and Peapod and even unique online offerings like box meal services including Blue Apron and Plated divide the customer spend. These new players provide a disrupt in the marketplace and create new roles and expectations of the consumer-vendor relationship, and how and where suppliers go to market.

We Expect More
Sustainability and corporate responsibility is not a new trend, but it’s not going away, it just continues to grow up. Consumers really do care how companies act and what they do. They don’t want B.S.; they want to know the real information. Businesses have a responsibility to act conscientiously and tell the world how they do it. Even more importantly, when you do act responsibly and more importantly if you don’t – consumers will tell their online friends and the information can spread quickly.

Technology has given rise to new levels of participation and awareness on causes or issues that consumers support or dislike. Social tools help consumers promote information through videos, petitions and local organizing that can get high levels of attention in short periods of time; for good or bad. Be prepared in advance to champion your message.

Example of Tom’s Shoes engaging consumers on their website and share their social story.

Example of Tom’s Shoes engaging consumers on their website and share their social story.

Example of Publix Twitter party being co-opted by an advocacy group creating a real-time PR issue

Example of Publix Twitter party being co-opted by an advocacy group creating a real-time PR issue

It’s Raining Men

Men are hot – and not just on the cover of GQ Magazine, but in their sphere of influence. Gender roles are so very 1975 and so Ward & June. Men and women are starting to equally share responsibilities for traditionally women-only roles like cooking and shopping. That means more men are pushing the cart and making the buying decisions than ever before. In fact, according to NPD, approximately 41% of all grocery shoppers are men. But men are still from Mars and women are from Venus and we need to market accordingly.


Food Trends

Food trends of the past (check out our 2014 Food Trends Report here) have been heavily influenced by demographic and economic shifts. In the recent past we’ve seen trends that include over the top offerings like cronunts, amped up comfort foods and the growing importance of local foods. The emerging trends don’t seem to be too divergent from the past as they continue to focus on convenience, curated foods and an evolving palate.

Snack Attack
Snacking and convenience foods have long been an important part of the foodscape, but 91% of consumers surveyed report that they snack daily. Many consumers snack multiple times per day and are looking for healthy options. Look no farther than the new offerings throughout the store and ask yourself how you meet this growing need snack need.

Smoky Goodness
This trend has been on the radar for the past several years, but it is just starting to move from upscale to mainstream culture. It’s important to note that trends that linger and grow with slow momentum tend to move from trends to mainstays. Everything from smoked and grilled now includes meat, fruits, vegetables, desserts and cocktails and are expected to ignite fiery interest from consumers.

The Healthy Gut
Gluten free, probiotics and fermented foods have contributed to conversations about digestive issues and foods that support a healthy gut. Don’t expect this to change. Expect to find even more products that cater to a growing health centric culture that expects their foods to offer positive benefits for health beyond the nutritional essentials.

Culturally Curated
Today’s consumer wants their food to be special and unique. Whether it’s local, they know the farmer, it’s made in small batches or by a unique time honored tradition – this idea of curated foods leads to a deeper connection with a brand and a sense of artisan quality. This is also a trend that has been gradually growing, but became misused and adulterated in its early forms. (Think Domino’s Artisan Pizzas). But today, big brands and small brands have figured it out and consumers are opening their wallet to experience them all.

Digital Trends

No discussion about consumer trends or even food trends would be complete without a discussion about the technology that is impacting how we live. Key words for the new digital revolution include consumer generated content and culturally influenced visual environments.

Make It Mobile
Consumers live and breathe their smartphones and tables. Every website must be mobile-ready. In fact research indicates that more than one billion people use mobile as their only form of internet access. Brand management is important, but so is the user experience. Make sure small screens are a priority.

Data Mining is Where the Diamonds Are
Social media and online use has become scarily good at predicting our likes, dislikes and behaviors. It also gives big business the ability to pretarget buyers with information and build brand awareness long before they go to the store and make buying decisions.

The Producers
The advent of not only social media, but improved video and photo technology has put production at our fingertips and everyone is a producer. We no longer need high-tech specialized videographers, equipment and studios to create amazing content. Consumers are producing their own content that they want to see and share at an amazing rate. Facebook, Twitter and recently Pinterest have gained most of the social attention, but the rising popularity of video is continuing to propel the growth of YouTube, Instagram and Vine to name just a few – prime locations for personally curated content that feeds the interests of today’s visually oriented fast moving social consumers.


2015 is sure to be as exciting as every other year. We could say we are experiencing a cultural revolution, but it is more like continual evolution.

 Questions about the trend forecast for 2015? Disagree with any of these trends? Feel like your marketing and products need to be more in line with what’s in store for 2015? Email us or drop us a line anytime – we’d love to hear from you.

^Full Tilt Marketing

*Mintel, Nielsen, NPD Group and Phil Lempert Supermarket Guru have been used as sources for this document.


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Filed under Design, Food, Marketing, Marketing Development, Marketing Planning, Social Media, Technology, Trends

If Only Grandma Was Here to Make Dinner

9e7e21b41bbf335c83d306ed14afea96Your Grandma, and maybe even your Mom, lovingly and painstakingly prepared meals from scratch and delivered them to the table in serving bowls while everybody sat down, shared grace and offered up friendly conversation from their day. The days of Wally & June are long gone and today’s time strapped consumers do not have time for that same level of scratch cooking.

Despite the blogger or Pinterest effect that gives consumers endless ideas for meal prep and planning, time still wins and meal assembly versus scratch cooking has become the norm. A recent study from North Carolina State University identified several challenges to getting a home cooked meal on the table; everything from time, distribution of labor, financial constraints, picky eaters and more.

The downfall of the sit down meal has been talked about greatly in the news, and we’ve seen ups and downs in its re-occurrence and disappearance. The thing we haven’t seen more of is more time. The household cook is making tradeoffs to purchase ready-to-eat meals from restaurants and grocery delis, or other meal prep ingredients that make getting a warm meal on the table fast – but also delicious.

What does that mean for food producers and food marketers? It means we need to change with the times. Convenience still rules. We need to create products that are fast and easy to prepare and cook, but also deliver quality flavors the whole family will love. These products should be easy to prepare with other meal assembly ingredients.

For example, Baloian Farms does a great job of reinventing fresh vegetables with their squash with seasoning kit. This vegetable side requires about 3 minutes of prep time and only about 5 minutes of cook time. Consumer friendly flavors like roasted red pepper or parmesan and garlic appeal to all family members. Better yet, this affordable side pairs well with products that can be picked up at the grocery deli like rotisserie chicken or meatloaf.eating2

Not only do you need to think about the products you sell to consumers, but also your merchandising strategy and who your customer is. Can you work with your buyers to get secondary placement near the deli, or better yet, work with the deli to create recipes that use your products?

Where there is a will there is a way. Don’t fall victim to changing trends you missed. Email us if you want some help thinking about your product line and how it can best serve time strapped consumers.

^Melinda Goodman


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Locally Grown and Organic Confusion

It has become very apparent that today’s food trends are moving in high gear towards the natural, organic, and locally sourced food product options with no signs of slowing down. Roughly half of US consumers have purposely bought local produce in the past year (The Hartman Group) and US organic food sales reached $28.4 billion in 2013 (Nutrition Business Journal).

Yet despite the increasing popularity of these types of products, a recent study found that nearly 1 in 5 Americans are still very confused about what each of those words mean (International Food and Agribusiness Management Review). In fact, 17% believed that food labeled organic was grown locally, and 23% believe that local produce is inherently organic as well.

Where the Confusion Stems From

local3The USDA officially regulates all organic food items and growing operations. The food items are inspected, certified and individually measured according to strict guidelines. With organic items, there are no restrictions relating to distance from growing location to retail location.

Locally grown items are not officially regulated, and in fact, there is no true single definition to products marked as locally grown. It is however generally considered by food professionals to refer to products raised or grown within a regional foodshed (approximately a radius of 150 miles). In many states though that distance can be fairly limiting, and it is not uncommon for products sometimes marked “local” to be from as far as away as 400 miles. Locally grown only refers to the distance between growing and retail location; these operations can range anywhere from small, 2-acre organic family farms, to large-scale conventional farms.

How and Why This Confusion Continues

When it comes to marketing organic products, many brands choose to highlight “chemical-free” (organic farms are still allowed to use organic pesticides and fungicides on their products, a fact that is unknown to a majority of consumers) growing techniques which is perceived to create healthier and more nutritious produce. And there’s no doubt that organic farming is labor intensive, which is where many consumers might get the idea that it is grown on small, local farms. But the truth is that a significant amount of organic items are grown on large-scale operations throughout the US, and then shipped great distances to retailers.

Many local growers believe that consumers can tell the difference between fresh produce and items that might be a few days old, and use this point to help market their items. In fact, many studies have shown that produce picked closer to ripeness is actually more nutritious and flavorful. Less distance to travel, means produce hits consumers hands as close as possible to its peak of ripeness. But just because the tag says locally grown, doesn’t mean it’s a small operation, in fact, many large corporate farms will label their items that are being sold within certain distances as local products.

In a nutshell, local products can be organic or conventional, and organic products can be local or national. Some brands choose to advertise both, while some will highlight one aspect and skip over the other.

It also doesn’t help that many brands will purposely overuse words like green, natural, fair trade, and sustainable when describing their organic or local products. Because these words are still fairly new concepts in the modern food and retail world, consumers are still slightly unaware of their exact definition, and what it specifically means when the item is labeled with it.local2

How We Can Correct This Confusion

First there is no right or wrong answer to what messaging works best. All food is a lifestyle choice. We as producers and food marketers must learn to tell our stories and connect with consumers. We have a responsibility to dispell consumer misconceptions and confusion, and reinforce awareness through education.

local1Educate your consumers, be transparent about your products and growing operations and authentically share your company story. In fact, consumers today are increasingly demanding more inforamtion about the foods they consume and the products they buy. If you’re an organic company that ships nationally, be honest about it; consumers will appreciate it.

We’d love to hear your truth and how you tell your story. Not sure how to start telling your story or worried you’ll lose consumers if you do? Drop us an email or give us a call, we can help.

^Alison Eiler

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“Shake It Up” – More Than A Song, It’s A New Paradigm

Change has always been the name of the game in business, but with the emergence of technology, change is evolving at a record pace. In fact, the retail shopping space is continually being shaken up or “disrupted” by online companies that are changing the game.

Food retailing has had many evolutions. From local family markets to supermarkets and supercenters to the emergence of club stores. Enter specialty food stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joes, and then comes online shopping – Peapod and now Amazon Grocery. Next came CSA’s and farm markets that brought consumers closer to their food and now the online experience is expanding again with subscription services.

I’m sure you’ve seen ads in your Facebook feed for Nature Box, BirchBox, Bark Box, Dollar Shave Club, Bulu Box, Stitch Fix and more. If you haven’t heard of these, you might wonder what these things are. Good question – they are subscription services that consumers purchase for a weekly or monthly box of goodies that introduce them to new products or deliver a needed service. There are subscription boxes for nearly every lifestyle from beauty, health, fashion and food and everything in between.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.14.51 AM

What this means for food is a whole new group of disrupters shaking up the retail space and shopping experience. There are also two types of boxes; sample versus service.

First sample box services like Nature Box, Taste Guru and Taste Trunk are great opportunities for consumers to see and try new products. There are even specific boxes for food lifestyles and demographics like Conscious Box for the sustainable consumer, Mantry, artisan foods for the man’s pantry and Cuisine Cube for the gluten free consumer. Brands work with these subscription services to get their products included in the boxes. Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 9.14.29 AMConsumer might get a full size package or a sample size. This trial builds awareness and helps drive consumers online or into stores to purchase the product.

The second type is the service box. Up and comers like Blue Apron, Plated and Spoon Rocket are providing a box service that includes all the ingredients and recipes to cook meals, or ready-made meals that just need to be reheated. This type of box tends to be the most disruptive to the retail experience by removing the customer from the actual shopping experience. Consumers are still consuming, but they are now a passive participant in the actual store experience. This may make it difficult to introduce new items or benefit from impulse purchases and larger baskets gained from an in-store experience.

In a recent digital survey, The Hartman Group acknowledges that only 13% of smartphone users are using subscription services. None-the-less, it’s clear that changing demographics and technology continue to impact the future of retailing.

Do your products need a “shake up” to reach a new audience? Convinced this type of retail is only a passing fad? Drop a line, we’d love to hear from you.

^Melinda Goodman

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Recipes: From Pin to Plate

Long gone are the days where you open your grandmother’s cookbook to search for something new to try. With technology on the rise and no sign of slowing down, everyday cooks are going to Pinterest, blogs, and apps to find their next signature recipe. Illinois2010+088Even the way we grocery shop has drastically changed. From paper and pen to desktop and digitized, everything is changing rapidly. With blogs, Pinterest, websites, web series, cooking demos, TV shows – the world of cooking healthy is centuries beyond your great grandmother’s family recipe.


I’m not a cook by any means so when I look for a recipe I want something easy to find, easy to make and good to eat. With information being thrown at me via every social network, it only makes sense that my go-to place when it comes to recipes is my phone. Aside from surfing Pinterest for crafts, home organization ideas and planning every girl’s dream wedding, IMG_9642simple recipes are also a big part of my content. Constantly being on a busy schedule, especially coming just out of college, having cheap and simple recipes on my phone is my saving grace in the aisles.

Most recently I found this gem: Quinoa and Kale patties – a combination of two super healthy foods made with some basic ingredients. I took my phone to the store, consulted the recipe while walking through the aisles and picked up what I would need. Simple enough, right? While I was expecting myself to find some way to absolutely destroy this recipe, I somehow ended up with something that looked very similar to the picture. I thought Thank God I won’t end up on one of those Pinterest Fail websites.Cinnamon-Roll-Waffle-Pinterest-Fail2

In addition to having the recipes available at the touch of a button, I also have abandoned the traditional paper list and gone digital. If I go to the store without a paper list, it’s a minor tragedy compared to stepping foot anywhere without my phone. It seems that for any task I need help with, inside the kitchen or out, there’s an app for that. I even have a healthy slide of apps on my phone.

Everything is more advanced since we are becoming more health and financially conscious consumers. We are constantly consulting social networks, websites or blogs on what is okay to put into our bodies, looking for the best thing we can possibly be eating – that “it vegetable” that will make our dishes “guilt-free” or give us the satisfaction that we’re eating something relatively healthy.

We live in the digital age and everything from the way we shop and cook to the way we workout is adapting to that. While Grandma’s books will always hold a special place in childhood memories, and will no doubt remain in our kitchens, our ways of shopping and cooking have drastically changed – and they’re only going to get better from here.




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Redefining “The Farm”

Over the past few years, the trend in purchasing local and/or organic products has grown exponentially, and has no signs of slowing down. The problem for many regions and cities throughout the US is operational and the physical ability for local farms to provide products year round; which is why many operations are starting to look at other creative methods these days.


UO_2Urban Organics, located in St. Paul, MN, converted part of an abandoned warehouse into an aquaponics farm (basically a process that grows vegetables on top of fish tanks) that has been able to supply, year round, organic items like kale, chard, herbs, and yes, even the fish, for a regional retailer.

Another successful example of this is Brooklyn Grange; an organization in Brooklyn, NY that has created the world’s largest rooftop garden and is the leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business in the US. Brooklyn Grange now operates 3 rooftop gardens within the city that produce over 50,000 pounds of organically cultivated produce annually; that they then sell to the local community. They now also operate the city’s largest bee yard (also located on a rooftop).


The road bump though that comes with products grown using these techniques is the marketability of them—if you remove the image of the traditional farm that normally accompanies local products, will consumers still view them as “natural” or more as manufactured products?

By simply explaining these different farming methods, being transparent about them, and sharing your story behind the “who” and “why” of the operation, you can help consumers connect instead with the people behind the produce and help them realize that farming is farming, whether on a roof or in a field.

More importantly is educating consumers that in large urban settings or cold-weather regions, providing fresh local produce from farms is sometimes impossible, and that creative efforts, such as aquaponic farms and rooftop gardens, are helping bridge this gap.

Unknown to many Minnesotans, despite the large farming community within the state, 85% of their produce is from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away, even during the summer growing months. Urban Organics, along with other similar operations, are looking to change this statistic, as well as create a model that will 10382270_642648449143896_7457093767656174771_obe successful and sustainable, as well as duplicaed in other large cities, or cold-weather regions.

These types of “farms” can also help link consumers back into food production and help them understand the processes and work that goes into producing food; something that so many consumers have been alienated from, and are now demanding to know. Citizens of large urban settings may rarely have the chance to see a real-life farm; creating new farm settings within these areas will give them a chance to understand cultivation, harvesting and growing seasons, even if they are standing 7 stories above the street, and not in a field.

Have another example of creative farming techniques that you’ve seen and want to share? Have products that are grown using these techniques and not sure how to effectively share your story? Drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.

^Alison Eiler

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