Check out Jeff Hilton’s interview with Nutraingredients.com

IMG CEO, Jeff Hilton, shares valuable insight about marketing to Millenials during a video interview with Nutraingredients.com, at SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas.

Click here to view video interview:

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Branding Expert Jeff Hilton to Discuss The Crossover Consumer at Natural Products Expo East

Integrated Marketing Group’s partner and co-founder, Jeff Hilton, will share his branding expertise at Natural Products Expo East, running from September 21 to 24, at the Baltimore Convention Center. Hilton will be part of a panel discussion to educate retailers interested in appealing to the crossover natural products customer – an individual newly interested in sustainability, environmental or green issues. The panel discussion is on Wednesday September 21, from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. in room 318.

“The profile of the natural foods consumer is evolving, and retailers need to understand how to best target, educate, and engage customers newly interested in a greener, healthier lifestyle,” said Hilton. “A retail outlet’s marketing strategy needs to be refined to communicate how products meet demands of a consumer who is aware of sustainability and environmental issues. The newly conscious consumer is interested in where a product comes from and where it goes after its useful life.”

About IMG and Jeff Hilton:
Jeff Hilton is partner and co-founder of Integrated Marketing Group (IMG), a marketing consultancy focused in the healthy lifestyles category, and specializing in strategic planning, branding, public relations and Web design and development. Hilton has been recognized by Advertising Age as one of America’s Top 100 Marketers and has more than 30 years of broad-based business experience, including 20 years spent within the natural products industry. Hilton is the recipient of Nutrition Business Journal’s (NBJ) Personal Service Award in recognition for his multiple outreach efforts including editorial contributions, pro-bono work and webinar and speaking engagements within the healthy lifestyles industry. Visit IMG’s blog, Brandwire, for Hilton’s branding articles and educational resources at www.imgbranding.com.

About Natural Products Expo East:
Natural Products Expo East runs from September 21-24 in the Baltimore Convention Center. Expo East is a vibrant community of about 1,300 vendors of natural, organic and healthy products with 22,000 individuals in attendance, and is ranked in the top 200 tradeshows in the country by Tradeshow Week. For more information, visit www.expoeast.com.

# # #

Press Contact:

Natalka Zeleny
IMG Branding
P: 801-538-0777 x: 106
natalkaz@imgbranding.com

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Emerging markets, part 3: From toddlers to teens–How to market to kids

Kids today wield tremendous purchasing power. Their combined purchasing power for both direct buys and influenced buys is estimated to exceed $200 billion in 2011 in the United States alone. This blog post is #3 in a series of posts on targeting emerging markets.
Note: Most pre-teens are influencing parents’ shopping, not doing the shopping themselves.

Revolution Foods yogurt drops are freeze-dried for easy handling


Keep my age in mind

Before we get to the fun stuff like packaging, we need to review a few points from your college psychology handbook. Kids have well-defined cognitive limits and interests you should keep in mind.

Ages 3–7
• My fantasy life is alive and well.
• Want to hold my attention? Animate it.
• No abstract thinking for me please.
• I still need a straw.
Ages 7–12
• I’m on-the-go non-stop
• I like disappearing magic tricks
• Don’t’ confuse me with pros and cons, keep your logic simple
• I’m hungry all the time. Pack me a snack.
• I’ve probably got a phone, so create an app for me.
Ages 12–15
• I can handle abstract thinking.
• You’ll find me online.
• Let me worry about my mom. Convince me, not her.
• I have unlimited text messaging, so send me a mobile ad.

Make it snack-able and packable
Children won’t be slicing up fruit and packaging it in small baggies before heading off to school. This means, either you do it or mom does it. Help mom out by making sure your functional food or supplement is one or more of the following:
• Individually wrapped
• Freeze-dried
• Sprinkles for the tongue
• Gummies
• Straw included
• Pre-diced and pre-sliced

I’m not too old for cartoons
Kids of all ages (adults too) love a good story, especially one with fantastic cartoon characters. Famous brands that animated their brand story include M&Ms, Pez candies, the Trix rabbit, Tony the Tiger, not to mention Sonic the hedgehog.

Flavors I know and love
Strange flavors are risky when it comes to kids. Much like favorite songs, kids have favorite foods and flavors. For example, Revolution Foods put a new snack size twist on a lunchbox favorite with a product called the Jammy Sammy. The Jammy Sammy comes in kid-tested flavors like PB & strawberry and PB & grape. And Jammy Sammy’s whole grain goodness comes, not in the form of whole wheat (not a favorite for a lot of kids), but through whole grain oats. Yum.

Reward me now
Cracker Jacks got this right. Whether the reward is a colorful story on the side of the packaging, a QR code to scan that downloads a game, a toy inside, a figure kids can punch out of the side of the empty package, or some other reward, the need for instant gratification holds true for kids of all ages.

Throw some “does not contain” reassurances in for mom
Help the kid out. He’s doing his best to sell mom on your product, but she needs a reason to buy something new. Let mom know which naughty ingredients are NOT in your product, and she’ll be more willing to overlook other things. Ingredients currently trending on mom’s high watch list include:
• Trans fats
• High fructose corn syrup
• Artificial flavors and colors
• Preservatives

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Emerging markets for natural products: part 2

7 rules for marketing to moms
Moms not only have their own money, they also have hefty veto power over the shopping decisions of their children and often their husbands. But marketing to moms is not as straightforward as many male brand managers would like to think. Read a mommy blog or two and you’ll begin to understand that marketing to moms requires adherence to a whole new set of rules. We call these the “mommy market rules.” And while many moms also fall into natural products’ primary demographic pool (35–55 year-old females), mom shoppers expect to receive information and make decisions in their own unique way. The ability to understand the priorities, worldview and decision making processes of moms can provide your company with one of the most genuine competitive advantages it may ever know.

XIGO's website is an example of marketing targeting moms


Rule #1: Moms are women first, consumers second
In her bestselling book, Why She Buys, Bridget Brennen highlights how a woman’s concerns are sometimes seen as irrelevant to male brand managers. As part of the agency hired to rebrand the Snugli, Brennen identified that the Snugli was something a new mom wore on her body and, as such, should be fashionable and flattering as well as functional. The previous Snugli was brown, boring and bulky, and any mom knows that the last thing a new mother wants to wear is something that makes her feel even bigger. Brennen’s team re-worked the Snugli with chic fabrics and a form-flattering Nicole Miller design. Soon the hip Snugli was showing up on Oprah and was being worn by celebrities as fashionable as Gweneth Paltrow. Natural products can benefit from dialing up the style factor on otherwise plain packaging to catch a mom’s eye.
Implication: Ugly packaging gets passed over. Moms are females who love fashion, color and style—even when they’re buying yogurt.
Rule #2: Not all women are moms
Obvious, yes, but this distinction is vital to successful mom marketing. Moms seek out fellow moms for advice and friendship. Only another mom understands her amazement at each new biological development, her intense focus on how to best nurture her children, or her fierce desire to protect her family from harm. The proliferation of “mommy bloggers” is evidence of this phenomenon, as are “moms only” social networking sites and groups. One of our clients even has a “Chief Mom Officer” as their website spokesperson.
Implication: In your blog, on your site, and in all your social media campaigns, find moms to talk to your moms.
Rule #3: Moms make social decisions
Moms, especially new moms, are hit with an onslaught of decisions to make. Whereas a new mom used to wait for weekly play dates to query friends about how to handle X or whether to purchase Y, she now heads online. With internet access, a fellow mom’s opinion is never farther than a click or two away. In charge of stretching tight budgets, moms use these social networks to improve their decision-making. Take the purchase of a bottle of omega-3 capsules, a hot item for moms with nursing children. A new mom today is likely to start off with a google search using search terms such as “best omega-3 oils for nursing.” She’ll then often follow up her search by asking Facebook friends which brands they’ve tried, which they like best and why. Products suggested by fellow moms quickly move into top-of-mind slots.
Implication: First, rewrite your keyword list and meta tag descriptors to align with top mom search terms. Second, use those keywords frequently in blog headers, photo descriptor tags, blog subheads, etc. to reach moms online.
Rule #4: Moms like to share
Moms value the brand that provides an emotionally moving and visual explanation of a product’s benefits. She also likes to share that moving visual online to strengthen bonds with friends and fellow moms. Don’t worry, the mom demographic is becomingly increasingly comfortable clicking on Facebook “share” and “like” buttons and these consumers often insert photo or video links in their social messaging.
Implication: First, make your message visual in a way that lets your mom consumers experience the emotional promise and connecting power of your brand. Second, make it easy for them to share those visuals with a single click on Facebook, Twitter or You Tube.
Rule #5: Moms buy for everyone, everywhere
If you don’t know the price of a carton of eggs, you’re probably not the shopper for your household, and you’re probably not the mom. Moms buy for themselves, their families, their spouses and their friends. Not only does this make them a powerful buying force, but it also changes how they shop. Moms think in terms of how a product will impact family life as a whole. Marketers can benefit from this tendency by telling moms how a new product will improve their entire family’s well-being. When XIGO, a natural supplement brand, launched Nighttime Repose, we helped them position it as a gentle, natural supplement that helps consumers fall asleep and stay asleep without heavy sedation side effects. For moms who often need to wake up in the middle of the night to care for a crying child, sedation-free sleep benefits the entire family.
Implication: When sharing your brand promise with moms, don’t just tell what it will do for them personally. Also tell them how it will benefit their family.
Rule #6: Moms don’t have two free hands
Ever watch a mom work her way through the store isle with a two-year-old on her hip? She hangs on to her child with one hand while picking up potential purchases with the other. This fact of life makes it difficult for moms to turn bottles around to read the back. One of our clients, LifeSeasons, addresses this problem by listing the main ingredients in large type on the front of the label. We also designed a custom colored cap that makes finding any LifeSeasons product a snap—even with a wiggling or crying child.
Implication: First, make your product easy to spot, using custom colored lids or distinctive packaging. Second, put the main ingredients on the front in easy-to-read type.
Rule #7: Moms crave 3 things
Three things are in incredibly short supply for any mom: (1) sleep, (2) energy and (3) me-time. Figure out a way to increase any one of these three things, and your brand will be attractive to moms. Will your product help her relax and fall asleep quickly? Will your product perk her up during her sleep-deprived day? Will your product save her time and simplify her life? If so, you might consider targeting moms.
Implication: Forget risky sick claims. Follow the example of one of our clients and appeal to moms with product claims like “helps provide calm, restful sleep,” or “promotes sustained energy and focus.”

This is part 2 of a 3-part post. Coming up: Marketing to Kids.

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Emerging markets for natural products: Marketing to Millennials

Natural Products are finding a new sweet spot

Natural product retailers have long identified their primary shoppers as 35–55 year-old females. And while it’s tempting to target the biggest sandbox in the playground, natural product manufacturers are now turning their attention to less saturated markets. One such market is the Millennials, the generation of more than 50 million people who span the ages of 18–32.

A lot has been said about how Millennials are “brand-averse,” that they’ve been inundated with marketing messages since the day they were born. And while it’s true that Millennials are constantly finding new ways to avoid watching yet another boring ad (aren’t we all?), read on for ideas of how natural products’ marketers can adapt to the needs and concerns of the newly-arriving Millennial generation.

Tell me a story
Millennials are story tellers. The definitive report on Millennials by the Pew Research Center, a nonprofit public opinion research group, emphasizes that this generation lives in a socially interconnected world. The paper entitled “The Millennials: Confident, Connected, Open to Change,” reports that 75% of Millennials have embraced social networking and desire ongoing dialogues through social media channels.

Implication: Tell Millennials a brand story that they can easily pass on to their friends through social media channels. Better yet, tell your story through a video, 3-D animation, mobile app or cartoon.

Limited editions please
American psychologist Nathan Brody calls Millennials “the entitled generation.” Easy access to, well, just about everything has marked their younger years. As consumers, this generation is steering clear of big brand bland; instead they’re honing in on smaller brands and products with limited edition life cycles. This is great news for small start-up brands; and companies large and small might consider marketing strategies whose goals are cyclical in nature. The Hartmann Group 2010 research report calls Millennials “playful in their snack selections, resulting in impulsive purchases from limited-release flavor combinations (Doritos Mystery Flavor) to global flavor profiles (Thai chili and kaffir lime).”

Implication: Marketers of functional beverages might do well to follow Mountain Dew’s lead; give Millennials limited-edition flavors, let them vote on their favorites, then deliver on the chosen one.

Skin your brand
Millennials don’t like to be interrupted by ads when having a conversation with their pals. So how do marketers send a branded message while still respecting their audience? They skin their brand. A great example of skinning is the online music site, Pandora.com. Pandora allows listeners to continue listening to their music relatively uninterrupted while displaying the “skin” of the brand as the background of the page. Whenever a user interacts with the site (to click a thumbs-up or thumbs-down or change the station), the background changes and a new brand skin is displayed.

Implication: Find ways to represent your brand that don’t interfere with the consumer’s primary experience.

Make me feel good
In their book, How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding to Generation Y, Joeri Van den Bergh and Mattias Behrer claim that “happiness seems to be the emotion that has the largest impact on brand leverage” for Millennials. Whether or not this influenced Coke’s “Open Happiness” campaign can be debated, but Millennials’ desire to feel good as well as connect with brands both rationally and emotionally are a few of the generation’s defining characteristics.

Implication: Regardless of whether your product is for joint health, brain health or general well-being, the brand experience should evoke emotion and make a meaningful connection.

This is part 1 of a 3-part post. Coming up: Marketing to Moms.

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Spice Up Your Product: Rise of spices as functional ingredients

Spices as functional ingredients

Years ago, formulators were heading for steep mountainsides and dense rainforests looking for all kinds of exotic berries. Now it seems the search for functional ingredients is heading to the spice markets. Cinnamon, ginger, oregano, red pepper, turmeric, rosemary, thyme, sage… all are household names, and most consumers have had these items in their kitchen cupboards for decades. Still, consuming spices in the amounts needed to make a health impact is not easy. Red peppers can burn and generate stomach upset and it’ll take more than a bowl of curry to leverage turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory properties. More and more, consumers who need an easier way to incorporate the health benefits of spices into their daily intake are looking to supplements and functional foods.

Spices support numerous health conditions

Spices support numerous conditions. Turmeric is widely recognized as an anti-inflammatory agent, making it a top choice for joint health formulations. Red peppers jumpstart metabolic activity and aid in weight loss. Ginger has a calming effect on the stomach and is a favorite in digestive health products. Cinnamon helps manage blood sugar and rosemary boosts liver function. In short, spices make a valuable addition in nearly every condition-specific category.

Consumers are becoming more educated on spices as a health-promoting ingredient

The shift in consumer education is easily noted in magazines such as Natural Health and Whole living. Whereas spices used to be relegated to the realm of dinner recipes, entire articles on the health benefits of various spices now make a regular appearance. Google searches for “spices” now number nearly 700,000 a month, and well over a million search results are displayed for “health benefits of spices.”

Look for more spicy supplements

Since supplement manufacturers have found ways to deliver potent spice extracts in a bioavailable, digestible fashion, consumers have been more than willing to add more supplements to their shopping carts. The names of spices are easily recognized by consumers and are helping to shift consumer perceptions of supplements to purified extracts of whole foods. With more educated consumers and continuing innovation in this field, you can bet spices will serve an even larger role in the future of dietary supplements and functional foods.

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NEWS: Integrated Marketing Group Partners with Virgo Publishing on SupplySide Science Tour

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Explosion of gluten-free products in natural foods market

Dozens of gluten-free products were luanched at this year's Expo West

Gluten, the protein commonly found in wheat, rye and barley, is found in most mainstream bakery and prepared foods (like breads, pastas and snacks) but gluten-free varieties of these foods are rapidly making their way into stores. The market for gluten-free food swelled to $1.56 billion in 2008 and has continued an upwards march ever since—on average 25% per year. Tweets from the March 2011 Expo West tradeshow were spreading the word about all the new gluten-free offerings as attending companies launched dozens of gluten-free products. The Enjoy Life brand alone launched four new handcrafted cookie lines, a granola product and Mega Chunks semi-sweet chocolate at the show. Put simply, consumers today can eat gluten-free and still enjoy hamburger buns, cookies, bagels, chewing gum, ice cream… even sushi wraps.

Gluten-free certification GFCO
Just as the term “organic” achieved a certain marketing cachѐ when a certification process was put in place, so too foods labeled gluten-free have become an established marketing food category now that a gluten-free certification process exists. Companies already creating gluten-free products, such as Sahale Snacks (which announced April 1st, 2011 that they are now certified gluten-free) are changing their labels and their marketing to appeal to those who look specifically for gluten-free certified foods. To be certified gluten-free, products must be made in a dedicated gluten-free facility. The seal of approval from the Gluten Free Certification Organization (GFCO) lets those with a gluten intolerance know that they can eat those foods with confidence and without medical risk.

Hurdles marketers need to overcome for gluten-free products
Although gluten-free products are proliferating, marketers still struggle with consumers’ perception that gluten-free means “taste-free.” If marketers plan on the public at large to respond to a gluten-free label in a positive way, they will have to continue to address the matter of taste perception and educate the public’s palette to sway their opinions.

Why marketers like gluten-free on the label
For marketers, putting gluten-free on the label typically means they can charge more and have their products placed in the gluten-free isle of most grocery stores. Most hamburger bun packs run between $2 and $3, whereas Rudi recently launched a pack of gluten-free hamburger buns for $4.49. In addition, gluten-free products are typically placed in a dedicated isle. This allows consumers to shop exclusively gluten-free without having to pick up products and check labels throughout the store.

What’s the media saying about eating “gluten-free”?
While many consumers are medically required to eat gluten-free, the media has not embraced gluten-free living as necessarily healthier. Articles in major national magazines, such as Whole Living, warned the general public away from a gluten-free life style, stating that, while it was necessary for some, the dense carbohydrates normally found foods containing gluten were an important part of a healthy diet.

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NEWS: IMG’s Hilton to discuss branding trends at Nutracon & Expo West

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NEWS: Branding Expert Hilton to Speak on Online Branding Strategy at Fancy Food Show

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