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Perfect Storm Opportunity

The premise of this article is that there is a significant marketplace opportunity materializing which offers tremendous awareness and sales potential for the right brands. Perhaps you are one of those brands? Let’s dive deeper to find out.

We are witnessing first hand the evolution of Consumer 2.0. This consumer/customer is highly evolved, totally empowered, but completely overwhelmed with the options available in the market. In addition, there are cultural and behavioral shifts taking place, which are of seismic proportions. Specifically, Consumer 2.0:

  • Has unfettered access to information online
  • Is shopping horizontally across distribution channels
  • Is much more active
  • Has technology available to self-monitor and assess his/her state of wellness
  • Is increasingly interested in maintaining and improving health and wellness

There are new technologies in the marketplace that address bioavailability, delivery methods, and even new metabolic pathways. In addition, new knowledge about human health is emerging. For example, the importance of the gut or GI tract in maintaining good health, or the role of chronic inflammation in overall wellness.

The Gap Between Consumer Knowledge and Product Applications

With the speed of product and technology innovation increasing, most consumers feel like they are drinking from a fire hose when it comes to maintaining or improving good health. Every day brings a new theory or product philosophy. As a result, consumers see a variety of tactics (diet, exercise, supplementation, etc.) but see no way to knowledgeably integrate those into a cohesive and realistic regimen that they can manage or even trust. The marketplace result is that 80% of new products fail, largely because they provide no clearly defined or proven benefits to the consumer. Consumers move through a cycle of trial and rejection that leads to unstable growth and market share gains for most products.

There is a gap in the marketplace between consumer knowledge and consumer understanding and application of that knowledge which brands have not fully bridged. Consumers are empowered, yes. They have tools, yes. And they have some knowledge. But they don’t know how to build anything yet. They must be taught and instructed by industry.

In my opinion, the steps within industry to successfully bridge this gap are:

  • Innovation and technology
  • Education and dissemination
  • Collaboration and partnership

In the face of a rising tide in consumer confusion about health, consumers are returning to what they know: simple, fewer ingredients, less processed foods, and no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Also, less sugar and salt. This burgeoning trend toward “simple” has also fueled the growth in structured diet regimens or philosophies including paleo, vegan, gluten-free, organic, etc. This type of structured diet helps people consume within boundaries and make sense of the health advice madness. Meal kits and delivery programs also play to this audience who want to eat healthier but don’t have time to shop or don’t like to cook.

I believe there are signs all over the place that consumers are moving from an era of Doctor Care (70’s and 80’s) to an era of Self Care (90’s and 2000’s) and now to an era of Custom Care (2010 and beyond). The future is frankly all about custom health care solutions that may be dictated by an individual’s DNA, genetics, lifestyle habits and daily activity level.

So, What Does This Have to Do with Clean Label Claims?

Clean label, sustainability, and transparency are all terms that marketers have coined to “pre-empt” or own this new type of messaging. The problem lies in that most consumers don’t think or talk this way. A recent New Hope Natural Media study cites that 78% if consumers don’t understand what “clean label” means. The same study shows that consumer confusion between Organic and non-GMO is rampant. Yet clean label claims continue to populate packaging at retail and online with almost 25% of U.S. product labels featuring clean label claims according to Innova Market Research.

In essence, clean label, clear label, sustainable, transparent, non-GMO, and many other marketing terms, become consumer shorthand for “healthier and better for you”. That said, the vast majority of consumers don’t really understand and/or differentiate between these terms as they relate to products in the marketplace. Consumers hear the marketing language, and research shows that they are open to new ways of thinking about and purchasing cleaner brands, but consumers do not yet grasp:

  • The significance of these descriptors
  • How they relate to everyday health and wellness for them personally

Consumers are left largely to grasp at straws for meaning and relevance.

So the “good news” is that consumers are indeed ready to embrace “cleaner product” initiatives. Certainly their aspirations have been heightened, but the “bad” or at least “cautionary news” is that the education process behind clean label initiatives has just begun, and there is a long road ahead for brands to define and differentiate themselves based on these characteristics.

Smart brands that understand this will capitalize on positive consumer sentiment by:

  • Researching and defining “marketing language” as it relates to specific, product-related features and benefits
  • Fleshing out terms and messaging that consumers can relate to readily and begin over time to associate with their brands over time

It Takes A Village

Brand building in today’s volatile and competitive marketplace is a complex and expensive valuable process. In my opinion, the responsibility for building successful brands has to be shared. Because increasing brand awareness and educating consumers about features and benefits and scientific support is EVERYBODY’S business. Clearly, both manufacturers and suppliers play a key role. As an industry, we are moving from individual silos to increased joint collaboration. It’s not just about clean finished products; it’s about clean sourcing and supply chain practices as well. For raw material providers and marketers, it’s not just about selling ingredients at $X per kilo. Branded ingredient suppliers must add value and embrace a new, more turnkey role. In turn, manufacturers and brand owners must be willing to pay the price for value-added ingredients with a pedigree of quality and proven scientific support. This goes back to my earlier statement about industry steps to bridging the consumer gap between tactical steps and integrated, custom health solutions.

Consumer Segmentation is Key

Modern marketers are learning that audience segmentation plays a critical role in product success. Consumer audiences are increasingly differentiated and display varying buying behaviors and needs. For clean label products specifically and custom health solutions generally, research shows that millennials (ages 18-33) are driving the trends and stimulating demand. This group is all about custom solutions, having options, and they demand more sustainable, transparent products and services.

It’s a new and confusing world out there. But it’s also an exciting one for marketers who are willing to jump in and invest in consumer education and awareness. The marketplace is reflecting a perfect storm of new opportunity. Consumer 2.0 is waiting. It’s your move.


Jeff Hilton
Co-Founder and CMO

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BrandHive, a leading healthy-lifestyle marketing, branding and public relations agency dedicated to “creating a healthy buzz”, today announced new hire Caitlin Wallace Hadley as Senior PR Counsel.

Caitlin comes to BrandHive with experience in a variety of industries, including food and agriculture, luxury, technology, education, and natural products. She is an alumna of global PR agencies Fleishman-Hillard and Access-Emanate, a Ketchum company. Her past clients include California Table Grapes, California Raisin Marketing Board, Mirassou Wines, California Closets, Intuit, University of Oregon, University of Utah, and MegaFood.

“As we continue to grow and expand the BrandHive family, we’re thrilled to welcome Caitlin as the newest addition to the team,” said Jeff Hilton, Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer. “She brings a solid background of media relations and social media expertise that will help ensure clients get the results they’ve come to expect from BrandHive.”

Caitlin has successfully placed clients in top-tier business, consumer and industry press, including stories in Engadget, GigaOm, FOX Business, LA Times, HGTV Magazine, Huffington Post, and Wall Street Journal. She’s managed several media tours in New York and Los Angeles, securing client interviews with Architectural Digest, InStyle, People Style Watch, Robb Report and Town & Country.

Caitlin is a graduate of California State University, Chico and has bachelor’s degrees in journalism and French.

For more information on BrandHive, visit www.brandhive.com.

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BrandHive recently finished production on our latest video project for Lip Clear Lysine+ from Quantum Health: CUL8R, Cold Sore! The video provides a fun take on the "haunting feeling" that often precedes the onset of a cold sore.

With the stress of back-to-school, upcoming holidays and seasonal climate changes, cold sores become much more prevalent. In this video, BrandHive helps Quantum Health offer a light and educational take on the benefits of using Lip Clear Lysine+ to fight unsightly cold sores.

America’s Naturals, an innovator in natural energy supplements, today announced that it will host a session at Vitafoods Asia focused on clean label energy alternatives for the active nutrition marketplace. The presentation will be led by America’s Naturals Chief Operating Officer, Kathleen Brock, and Jeff Hilton, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of BrandHive.

“We’re so excited to share our new product development efforts in the ever-changing market for active nutrition,” said Brock. “As the average, health-conscious consumer focuses more on wellness through activities and fitness, energy supplements become a vital part of nutrition for more than just sports enthusiasts.”

Brock and Hilton’s session will help attendees better understand the most common market segmentation criteria for active adults and how to effectively message to audiences based on target audiences, specifically focusing on baby boomers versus millennials.

“Millennials are very interested in authenticity and transparency—in fact they demand it,” said Hilton. “Interestingly, baby boomers are taking cues from their younger counterparts and becoming increasingly aware of what it means to know what’s in your supplements.”

The presentation will also include a case study on the marketing approach behind America’s Naturals’ energy shot, NERGIA, including how to work with brand ambassadors, cycling teams and racing sponsorships. Brock and Hilton will also speak about a market trend toward healthier, better-for-you supplements.

The presentation will take place Friday, September 2 from 12:00-12:30 p.m. at Centre Stage.

About America’s Naturals

America’s Naturals formulates and distributes premium dietary supplements under the brand names Family Flora and NERGIA. They are available in retail stores nationwide. For more information visit www.americasnaturals.com.

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 invited by Vitafoods to present and chair educational events at the upcoming Vitafoods Asia trade show on September 1-2, 2016 at Asia World-Expo, Hong Kong.

Vitafoods Asia trade show presents a unique agenda, which has been specifically tailored to meet the particular needs of the functional nutrition, nutraceutical and health supplement industry. The program focuses on applied science for the purpose of successful product development and business growth strategies and is officially supported by and co-developed with Food Industry Asia (FIA), International Society of Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods (ISNFF) and Frost & Sullivan. Hilton will be presenting sessions during the “Bringing your Product to the Asian Market” stream and chairing the second day of the conference.

Hilton’s first session, “Trends Shaping the US marketplace for Healthy Products and Ingredients”, will be an informative session on core trends in the US marketplace, including co-branding, personalized healthcare, millennials, convergence, consumer shopping patterns and popular ingredients and health indications. The presentation will take place on Thursday, September 2, 2016 at 14:00-14:30.

Hilton’s second session, “Effectively Marketing Your Science to the Consumer”, will address key marketing strategies to make science more consumer-friendly, as well as techniques to improve retention and relevance providing attendees with practical, usable approaches that can be easily implemented. The presentation will take place on Thursday, September 1 at 16:30-17:00.

Vitafoods Asia is the only event in the region dedicated exclusively to ingredients and raw materials for nutraceuticals, functional food and drinks, and dietary supplements. It attracts over 170 international exhibiting companies and 3,000+ visitors from across Asia Pacific. For more information, please visit www.vitafoodasia.com.

Jeff Hilton, BrandHive’s co-founder and chief marketing officer, will present on the Center Stage at this year’s SupplySide West conference in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 4-8, 2016. The world’s leading ingredient and solutions tradeshow brings together global participants in the health and nutrition marketplace for an in-depth exploration of the industry’s latest trends and innovations. Hilton’s session, “What’s the Buzz on Innovative Ingredients?,” will take place on Thursday, October 6th at 2:30-3:00 p.m. For more information, please click here.

Hilton will host an interactive session with representatives from three leading ingredient suppliers, including Balchem, Gencor and OmniActive Health Technologies. The discussion will be centered on how branded ingredients with clinical science and proven efficacy can achieve “buzz” within the supplement and functional food industries. Session participants will learn how to select supply chain partners with the greatest opportunity for long-term success. The discussion will include insight into the business of three distinct and successful B2B companies within the industry.

Join Hilton and other SupplySide West’s global participants in the animal nutrition, beverage, cosmetics, dietary supplements, sports nutrition, food and pharmaceutical industries for a memorable four day event featuring in-depth education tracks, summits, Q&A panels, workshops and VendorBriefs that focus on the latest trends and innovations in the industry. For more information, please click here.

BrandHive, a leading healthy lifestyle branding agency for consumer packaged goods and value-based ingredient companies, has been named as the agency of record for Quantum Health Products, Inc., developer of natural, science-based products that improve quality of life, and address common daily health needs of consumers.

BrandHive is working with Quantum Health on a comprehensive communications program to help build awareness and stimulate brand trial in the North American market for Quantum Health brands, including Buzz Away Extreme, Lip Clear and Thera Zinc. The program includes web design, advertising, paid search, public relations and social media initiatives, as well as strategic planning.

With over 30 years in business, Quantum Health is recognized for both its high-quality, effective products, as well as its exceptional customer service. Driven by the desire to remain progressive and responsive to its customer’s needs, Quantum Health pursued the expertise of BrandHive to help establish educational and consumer engagement strategies that highlight its natural approach to insect bite protection, cold sore treatment and immune health support.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to work with Quantum Health, a company firmly committed to the quality and efficacy of its products, and who advocates for the health and safety of its customers, ” said Jeff Hilton, chief marketing officer and co-founder of BrandHive. “Quantum’s quest to help consumers by addressing everyday health needs with proven, natural solutions, is reflected in the strategic and creative direction of our communications efforts.”

For more information on Quantum Health Products, Inc., please visit www.quantumhealth.com.

Jeff Hilton, BrandHive’s co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, will co-present with Imbibe’s Executive Vice President, Andy Dratt, at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo. The event will take place on July 16-19, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois and will bring together brand owners and supply partners to explore insights into branding, new technology, and trends related to packaging.

Hilton and Dratt’s session, “Quenching the Marketplace Thirst for Innovative Packaging,” will offer real-world case studies on how brands and packaging manufacturers are shifting their attention to the power of creative design and innovative beverage delivery forms as a way to command consumer attention and educate product benefit. The speakers will present examples of how packaging can make or break a new brand on both the physical or virtual shelf and how brand manufacturers can best address consumer’s interest in value, convenience, and traceability.

Hilton and Dratt’s session will take place on Tuesday, July 19th at 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Food Expo Forum. As one of the largest gatherings of food science and technology professionals, IFT is an important community event. For more information on the conference, please click here.

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I remember back in the 1990’s sitting in meetings at Nature’s Way talking about the potential of the functional food and beverage sector, which at that point was in its infancy. Now, over two decades later, we are in the ramp up to significant expansion of the category with new products entering the market on an almost daily basis. A simple walk down the beverage aisle of Whole Foods provides an excellent example of the proliferation that has occurred. The sheer volume of functional beverage entries is both staggering and intimidating. Even more sobering, probably 50 percent of those brands won’t be on the shelf one year from now. The beverage isle is a brutal retail battleground where brands either thrive or die. Functional food brands have not yet proliferated to the extent that functional beverages have, but based upon a review of marketplace activity and trends, many more functional food product introductions are on the horizon. And the key driver here is the consumer, believe it or not. In survey after survey, consumers have stated that they prefer their health and wellness to result primarily from what they eat and drink on an ongoing daily basis, so it is not a huge leap to expect expanded growth for these once vertically niched market segments.

This article seeks to identify, review and discuss some significant and relevant ingredient and formulation trends in these growing categories.
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Jeff Hilton, co-founder and partner at BrandHive, will discuss the evolution of CPG branding at the World Tea Expo at the Las Vegas Convention Center next week. Retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, grocers and other industry representatives will attend the expo. Hilton’s presentation will take place on the final day of the event as part of the expo’s core conference seminars.

Hilton’s session, The Evolution of Branding, takes a closer look at how the traditional branding paradigm has shifted control from marketers to consumers. In an environment where consumers have become “publishers” and content creators, Hilton provides guidance around how to manage that opportunity in successfully marketing functional teas and other beverages.

“The traditional To Do’s of marketing have drastically changed,” said Hilton. “Opportunities made available through channels including video, digital content and social media have allowed consumers to customize brand offerings to their tastes and timeline. This has resulted in a new marketing approach characterized by Concept, Content, Connection, Community, and Continuity.”

The World Tea Expo cites growth in tea consumption at well over 80 billion servings in 2015. As the third largest importer of tea in the world, the United States is primed for tremendous market growth. This year’s World Tea Expo will mark the 15th anniversary of the event.

Hilton’s session is scheduled for Friday, June 17th at 8:00-9:30 am. For more information on Hilton’s session or the conference, please visit: http://worldteaexpo.com.