As a preview to VitaFoods Europe, I want to share a few thoughts on building consumer awareness for branded ingredients.

The Opportunity

Thought leaders and others in the manufacturing and supply chain sectors of the healthy, natural, organic space are beginning to reach consensus that the best way forward to future growth and market success is founded in a partnership strategy or approach. By that, I mean that true innovation in today’s market space requires R&D focus and capabilities that many smaller entrepreneurial companies do not have at the ready. Likewise, there are a host of ingredient suppliers who either serve as brokers/marketers or simply do not have an R&D pipeline for new product discoveries or technological innovations. So the increasingly logical approach is to share that overall responsibility and combine resources to discover, foster and cultivate new ingredients and technologies with implications for improved human health. This increased collaboration allows brand owners and branded raw material suppliers to mix and match their IP to create something greater than the individual contributions might suggest. Now more than ever, successful product introductions, particularly in niche markets, come from a vibrant combination of expertise where players are less silo-driven and more collaborative. In short, you can play in my sandbox, and I will play in yours. Nowhere is this opportunity more pressing than in building consumer demand and awareness for new products and the ingredients, features and benefits driving them. That is very much a shared responsibility with shared accountability in today’s marketplace and brand owners expect legitimate suppliers to actively play a role in consumer education and building demand at the consumer level. Long gone are the days of selling raw ingredients at $X per kilo and good luck with that. The supplier of the near future must approach brand owners with a much more comprehensive approach which addresses consumer positioning, value proposition, and proposed messaging to support ingredient claims. In addition, growing suppliers are also now expected to participate in consumer education and outreach.

The Challenge
Consumer outreach is not cheap. We all know that. It also requires detailed planning and execution and is often beyond the wheelhouse for many ingredient suppliers who focus on B2B communications. So the hurdle is related to both financial concerns and lack of expertise. Yet the expectation lingers, and smart and savvy suppliers are seeking a way forward.

An Approach
May I suggest that the correct path of thinking for a raw ingredient supplier is to outline a program of cost-effective, guerilla-style tactics that can assist in the brand-building process at a reasonable budget. The primary goal here should be to 1) educate consumers about the branded ingredient and 2) send them back to your brand partners to purchase at retail or online.

Tools for consideration include:

- Social media: Choose 2-3 platforms and establish a presence for your branded ingredient. Create a content calendar and post regularly. Feature your brand partners in posts and send consumers back to your Web site or a landing page where participating brand partners are highlighted with live links to their web sites. You can outsource this function for a few thousand dollars a month. You should also allocate some money to purchase social media advertising, boost posts, etc.

- Event sampling: Pick a few key markets for your brand partner and arrange to sample your ingredient (with a card attached leading the individual to a local retailer where the product is sold). Getting included in goody bags for half marathons, yoga retreats is relatively inexpensive and often the sponsoring organization is looking for samples and will gladly include you at no charge.

- Blogger outreach: There are literally thousands of blogs in the “blogosphere” to choose from. Many of them are focused on health and wellness issues or specific disease conditions like obesity, heart health and diabetes. Reach out to prominent bloggers with an offer to supply them with free product samples to try provided they will post in their blog about the experience. You can also encourage them to plan a giveaway or blog promotion built around your ingredient and it’s benefits. Many bloggers will provide coverage for free if they like the product, and those who charge for a review are usually quite reasonable.

There are other ideas but these will give you a starting point. Give up the idea that you need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on print, online and broadcast advertising which you can’t afford, and start thinking about small ways that you can help get the word out through more localized, guerilla tactics. Reaching the consumer is s joint effort between brand owners and suppliers. Suppliers don’t need to do all the heavy lifting, but they need to actively help share the load.

BrandHive’s, Jeff Hilton, has been invited to participate in an additional panel session at this month’s Vitafoods Europe, on May 10-12, 2016 at Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland. The panel will explore the future for the Sports Nutrition market and the steps required for manufacturers and suppliers to drive quality, safety and consumer trust within the industry

PARTICIPANTS: Shane Starling, Senior Editor, Food Ingredients EMEA/APAC (Chair), Jeff Hilton, Chief Marketing Office and Co-Founder of BrandHive, David Trosin, Director of Business Development, Dietary Supplements, NSF International, USA, Dr Adam Carey, Chair, European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA), UK
PANEL SESSION: Raising the Bar: Driving quality, safety and consumer trust in sports nutrition
TIME: May 10, 2016, 11:00-11:40 AM
PLACE: Centre Stage

Hilton’s other sessions at Vitafoods include:

• “What the personalised healthcare consumer trend means for manufacturers and suppliers?” – Tuesday, May 10th, at 16:40 – 17:00 at the Life Stages Theatre.

• “Addressing opportunities in the expanding active nutrition marketplace” – Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 12:45-13:05 at the Vitafoods Centre Stage.

• “Leap-frogging: How branded ingredient suppliers can build consumer awareness on a limited budget” – Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 09:30 – 09:55 as part of the paid Conference Proceedings.

For more information on these sessions, please visit http://www.brandhive.com/buzz/2016/04/brandhives-hilton-to-lead-diverse-discussions-at-vitafoods-europe/.

Vitafoods Europe is the leading exhibition for the nutraceutical, functional food and drink dietary supplements industries. The event is expected to attract 900 global suppliers showcasing thousands of innovative products while providing strategic direction and expertise for operating a strategic business. For more information, please visit http://www.vitafoods.eu.com/.

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We’re proud to celebrate 20 years in business! Thank you for your support of BrandHive. We’re sharing our celebratory video from this year’s Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, CA. Enjoy!

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BrandHive, a full service, strategic branding, PR and social media agency dedicated to “creating healthy buzz”, today announces the selection of Ms. Shilpa Gauba as its Social Media and Blogger Outreach strategist.

Shilpa has over 12 years of corporate marketing experience along with ten years in developing and executing integrated online and social media marketing initiatives. Considered a guru in her industry, Shilpa has successfully managed social media, blogger and SEM initiatives for a variety of corporate clients in the fields of nutraceuticals, entertainment, telecom, food and beverage, and healthcare technology research. Shilpa is also the author of a book on multicultural marketing called “Be Heard”.

“As our agency continues to grow and our portfolio of services expands, we are extremely pleased to welcome Shilpa to the BrandHive team,” said Jeff Hilton, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer. “She brings a depth of knowledge and experience that will help elevate our clients’ corporate and brand messaging, extend the audience reach of targeted initiatives, and reinforce BrandHive’s reputation for delivering outstanding results.”

Shilpa earned her MBA (focusing on advertising and public relations) in India and achieved a Master Certification in Integrated Online and Social Media Marketing from the University of San Francisco. She is an experienced software engineer and is certified in inbound marketing, making her uniquely qualified to oversee both the technology and the communication side of digital marketing programs and campaign. Shilpa recently served as a speaker and judge at the DECA National Conference. She supports the prevention and cure of cancer in children.

At BrandHive, Shilpa will be responsible for integrated online, social media and blogger outreach programs.

5cs

Forget everything you know. I often feel like that is the new imperative for marketers in the modern world. It also feels on occasion like we in this profession are being collectively schooled in a new way to communicate and be relevant to our audience. And so be it. Smart communicators operate in today’s complex marketplace under an entirely new set of assumptions about messaging, audience and media channels. Learning the new rules of engagement is paramount in order to successfully, meaningfully and profitably connect with our current, former and future customers.

And as seems requisite in these articles to shape the content into bite sized bits of information for consumption and sharing, I will of course comply by discussing what I like to call the Five C’s of Modern Marketing.

But first, a premise to consider. I am old enough to remember well the days when marketers had all (or most) of the control. Brand managers decided what the message would be, how it would be creatively communicated, the medium, the timing, who it would reach and how often. More or less. But the tables have certainly turned. In 2015, we as marketers assemble a patchwork of interrelated strategies and tactics designed to reach our audience, but they wield the big stick now. They decide, for the most part, what they see or hear, when they see or hear it, how it is presented and if it is presented at all. They can save it for later, share it, customize it, or frankly just ignore it.

Under this new paradigm, today’s marketers must be more strategic than ever before to find, attract, engage and convert.

Concept. Powerful brands tell a story. And yes, I know you have heard that before. Good branding is effective storytelling. The challenge is crafting a brand story that can be communicated in a wide range of formats, from broadcast and print to skyscraper banners and landing pages. And that takes practice. The better you know your story, the more flexible you can be in telling it well through a dizzying range of media delivery formats. But suffice it to say, it all starts with the brand story concept. Every brand has a story. Either you can create it, or your customers will do it for you. And you may not like what they come up with.

Content. The most compelling stories are true stories. And so every solid brand story must have some underlying truth to be effective. That’s where consumer research and scientific validation plus R&D come into play. Or whatever form of support you have generated to substantiate your story and give it legs in the marketplace. Fabricating an interesting storyline is the easy part. Building a portfolio of supporting facts and data behind it is much more difficult.

Connection. When you think about all of the imagery and sound thrown at the average person on an average day, surprisingly little of it seems to “stick”. Why is that? My personal belief is that marketers tend to forget that there are two parts to every sale: the rational sale, and the emotional sale. Features and benefits are fine and good, and a solid value proposition should incorporate the most unique points of difference for your brand. But if there is no emotional connection created between your brand and your customer, precious little interaction or engagement is likely to occur. Particularly when it comes to the coveted Millennial generation, the ability to engage with a brand is a prerequisite to purchase. Savvy marketers encourage that type of emotional connection at every point of contact.

Community. With the advent of social media, the dynamics of personal connection and engagement with customers have evolved exponentially. The challenge these days is determining how to connect, with whom, in what ways, using what vehicles? One thing for certain is that key to online engagement is User Generated Content. Prospects and customers want to hear what their peers think of your brand. Not what you think of it. The more you can facilitate sharing and exchange on your Website, blog, or social outposts, the more brand ambassadors you can create and empower. One more thought regarding social media strategy; focus on generating an objectives-driven plan, not just a hodgepodge assembly of tactics.

Continuity. In a few short words, always seek to speak with one voice. The more diverse and segmented the consumer and media landscape become, the easier it is to silo content to the point where the key brand messages are lost. Always return home to the brand story to make certain that your key selling proposition is not getting lost in the shuffle. Message continuity and frequency are all important. And when I say message, I am referring to both words and graphic elements.

You’re not alone. We are all navigating this new media landscape together. Looking for better ideas and approaches. So when you find something that works, please share it. As they say, a rising tide floats all boats.

Article Source:
Journal of Integrated Marketing Communications
Written by Jeff Hilton, Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Brandhive
Edited by Gary Gonzalez, Medill IMC Class of 2015
Published 10/25/2015

BrandHive, a leading healthy lifestyle branding agency providing high level strategic planning and branding expertise to consumer packaged goods and value-based ingredient companies, today announced that its co-founder and partner, Jeff Hilton, was selected by the Vitafoods Executive Advisory Board to lead three educational events at the global nutraceutical event, Vitafoods Europe, on May 10-12, 2016 at Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland.

Hilton’s first session, “What the personalised healthcare consumer trend means for manufacturers and suppliers?” will address how category, channel and technology convergence in the marketplace has changed the playing field for manufacturers and suppliers. Hilton will discuss why consumers are seeking more integrated health solutions and how supply channel partners can capitalize on that demand. The presentation will take place on Tuesday, May 10th, at 16:40 – 17:00 at the Life Stages Theatre.

Hilton’s second session, “Addressing opportunities in the expanding active nutrition marketplace,” will examine how the sports nutrition sector is expanding into active nutrition with tremendous implications for product and consumer segmentation. Hilton will also address how to launch a successful active nutrition product. The presentation will take place on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 12:45-13:05 at the Vitafoods Centre Stage.

In the third session, “Leap-frogging: How branded ingredient suppliers can build consumer awareness on a limited budget”, Hilton will discuss cost effective ways to establish a consumer presence for a branded ingredient to assist manufacturing brand partners in educating consumers about ingredient features and benefits, as well as stimulating demand for the finished products that contain the ingredient. The presentation will take place on Wednesday, May 11, 2016 at 09:30 – 09:55 as part of the paid Conference Proceedings.

“There are significant, relevant trends shifting the marketplace for manufacturers and suppliers involved in the functional foods, nutraceutical and personal care industries,” said Hilton. “I’m looking forward to joining other industry and academic experts to present strategic insights which I believe will impact the success and profitability of today’s brands. I’d also like to congratulate the Informa team on their 20th anniversary! BrandHive reaches its 20-year milestone this month as well. We’re proud to be in such great company in celebrating and acknowledging the success and growth of the health and wellness industry.”
Vitafoods Europe is the leading exhibition for the nutraceutical, functional food and drink dietary supplements industries. The event is expected to attract 900 global suppliers showcasing thousands of innovative products while providing strategic direction and expertise for operating a strategic business. For more information, please visit http://www.vitafoods.eu.com/.

BrandHive, a leading healthy lifestyle-branding agency, was retained by Coffee Blocks, the creator and manufacturer of an instant butter coffee beverage for active adults, to develop a brand story and messaging, as well as redesign their product packaging for a retail launch. The new packaging was previewed earlier this year and made available to retail customers nationwide in recent weeks.

Coffee Blocks packaging design by BrandHiveIn 2014, Coffee Blocks founder, Tom Meredith, turned to Kickstarter for support of his passion to make butter coffee easier and more convenient to consume for adults seeking sustained daily energy and improved overall wellness. Joined by several partners, it didn’t take long for Meredith to reach his goal and begin selling product online.

Coffee Blocks is packaged in convenient squeeze packs containing coffee, grass-fed butter, coconut oil and free-range egg yolks for use as a single-serve hot beverage. Once hot water is added and the contents are mixed, the outcome is a blended and balanced butter coffee that can be enjoyed immediately. Coffee Blocks delivers sustained energy, increased mental clarity, fat burning benefits and overall good nutrition.

“Drink. Feel good. Repeat. – We developed a daily credo for Coffee Blocks that reflects its simple and straightforward approach to better nutrition,” said Jeff Hilton, “Whether it’s the brand story, logo or packaging, it’s critical for food and beverage brands to connect with consumers in a meaningful and relevant way. We’re proud of how the brand elements supporting Coffee Blocks have come together and expect continued momentum with consumers in the marketplace.”

Coffee Blocks uses premium, all-natural ingredients and no artificial emulsifiers, fillers or preservatives. The product is sold at retail in a package of 8 convenient squeeze pouches. For more information, visit CoffeeBlocks.com.

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Jeff Hilton, BrandHive’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, will participate in an educational panel on Brand Stewardship at Natural Products Expo West 2016 in Anaheim, California next week. The panel, Supply Chain Stewards: Finding the Right Partners for Your Brand, will take place on March 11, 2016 at 2:30-4:00 PM PST at the Anaheim Marriott on Convention Way. Kuli Kuli Founder and CEO, Lisa Curtis and Applied Food Sciences, Inc. VP of Product Innovation & Marketing, Jackson Zapp, will join Hilton for the informative and multi-faceted session.

Hilton and co-presenters Curtis and Zapp, plan to discuss why supply chain management and vendor partner selection/vetting is critical for market success, including its impact on development of a compelling and credible brand story for both customer and consumer outreach. Participants will learn how Kuli Kuli and Applied Food Sciences leveraged partnerships with supply chain partners to tell their own unique transparency and sustainability stories.

The Stewardship track’s aim is to educate and inform participants about the best practices of supply chain management. Retailers, distributors, manufacturers and suppliers are invited to join the panel sessions.

For more information, please visit www.expowest.com.

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BrandHive, a full service strategic branding and PR/Social agency dedicated to “creating healthy buzz”, marks 2016 as its 20th anniversary.

Focused on promoting healthy, natural brands, BrandHive has a proven track record of providing innovative solutions and disruptive creativity for its clients in various business sectors including nutritional supplements, food and beverage, personal care, household products and branded ingredient suppliers.

BrandHive began operations in 1996 as the Integrated Marketing Group (IMG) when Jeff Hilton and Matt Aller, the agency’s co-founders, recognized the potential for providing integrated branding and business consulting services for health-focused natural consumer packaged goods and raw ingredient companies. Under their leadership, IMG grew into a leading, one-stop shop for strategic branding, creative, media, public relations, and digital interactive services. After a very successful rebranding in 2013, and following two decades of steady growth, the agency certainly has something to celebrate this year.

“Our success and longevity is a result of both the advanced capabilities of our team plus our concentrated focus on the natural products industry,” said Hilton. “Collectively, we offer Clients over 100 years of combined category experience. Moreover, we continue to expand our global reach, having forged partnerships with clients throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Israel, Norway, South Africa,United Kingdom, Switzerland and France.”
Hilton is a sought-after speaker for his knowledge and insights into timely marketing topics and trends. He brings unique expertise in the areas of branding, strategic planning, target audience differentiation, trend spotting, and active nutrition. This year, Hilton will lead multiple sessions at VitaFoods Europe, the World Tea Expo as well as the US-based Natural Products Expo West. Hilton’s dedication and contributions to the industry have resulted in notable accolades including recognition by Advertising Age as one of America’s Top 100 Marketers and recipient of Nutrition Business Journal’s Personal Service Award.

Aller remains at the creative helm as BrandHive’s creative director, defining creative strategy while also managing implementation at a detailed level. This sort of personal involvement, in addition to a concentrated effort on team development, has significantly contributed to the firm’s creative expertise and explosive growth.

To kick off its anniversary celebration, BrandHive will host a series of white papers, dubbed the 20th Anniversary Healthy & Natural Marketing Series, expected to roll out this Spring. BrandHive also plans to share its 20th anniversary celebrations with a little bee-themed party fun in early 2016.

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“Millennials are now the single largest global demographic segment, and these 18-33 year olds are indeed out to change the world. Make no mistake about that.”

-Jeff Hilton

As a follow-up to last week’s Food Matters Live program in London ExCel, Jeff’s insight into the world’s single largest demographic segment was featured in the latest Table Talk edition.

See more of “Millennials, millennials everywhere