Can I patent my recipe? – Typically No!

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Beyond patents

Design Patents.

Annual Plan Checklist for a Killer 2016!

We hope your 2015 is exceeding expectations and you’ve created a strong plan for 2016 to grow faster.  As most of you are, or are approaching, completing your 2016 Plan, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready for a killer 2016!

2016 Annual Plan Checklist

1. Develop a Written, Market Based Growth Plan Carefully

  • Analyze and segment your customer and consumer base, prioritize by growth potential
  • Understand what your customers’ unmet needs and why they will choose your superior product or service
  • Build a strategy that leverages your business model: market opportunities, your core competencies and where you are most profitable

2. Widely Communicate Your Growth Strategy

  • Summarize your 3-5 Key Growth Strategies, based on factual analysis (e.g. channels, products/services)
  • Growth Priorities should be quantified and clearly communicated throughout your company and key constituents (e.g. suppliers) so everyone understands them and is aligned
  • Innovation should be among your top priorities; have clear parameters (fertile areas in which to innovate) to provide direction

3. Have, or Get, the Right Accountable Team

  • Have accountable talent who can lead and drive respective pieces of the growth strategy
  • Have strong and clear inter-department communication and processes
  • Have the right talent who can produce; commit to coach up, outsource for, or dismiss those who can’t

4. Execute with Cross-Functional Precision

  • Have clear leadership, accountability and measurement of top initiatives
  • Maintain ongoing cross-functional leadership and communication to keep key initiatives on track
  • Track key programs quantitatively and refine them based on in-market learnings

5. Deploy Effective and Efficient Marketing

  • Marketing should identify and drive consumer and marketing growth opportunities
  • Marketing should develop and lead a clear marketing strategy that directly ties to growth strategy Your brand positioning(s) should be clear, consistently communicated.
  • Your marketing communication and R&D efforts should consistently strengthen your superiority
  • All major programs should be on strategy, measurable, optimized across multiple media, and provide measurable return-on-investment

6. Drive Productivity… Everywhere

  • Set ambitious, achievable productivity goals (cost reduction/efficiency). $1 in productivity > $10 in new sales
  • Challenge each function to develop specific, measurable, cash-saving (not conceptual) programs; drive wide participation
  • Celebrate, publicize, and reward best programs. This creates a ripple effect for more productivity

5 Hottest Food Trends at Expo West |

We were delighted to appear in The Ohio State University’s Food Innovation Center Blog:

Expo West

Natural Products Expo West 2014 was an incredible show of natural, organic, and healthy food and beverage manufacturing, ingredients, and in many ways – the future of the food industry, given that healthier food has moved from trend to societal shift. The natural, organic and healthy products food industry is growing nearly three times higher than the food industry average, per Penton. I had the privilege of attending with 67,000 of my closest friends and 2,600 exhibitors. Expo West was an enlightening window to emerging food industry trends.

 1. Gluten-free continues to explode, up 20% versus last year, driven by perceived health benefits and better diagnosing of celiac disease. New brands, new food categories, and Gluten-freeimproved organoleptics were virtually everywhere. Per NPD, 30% of consumers want to reduce the amount of gluten they are eating, and gluten-free foods’ household penetration has leaped to 11%, more than doubling since 2010, per Nielsen. The tidal wave is projected to continue as the foodservice sector (restaurants and institutions) catches up with consumer demand at retail. Even Pillsbury has jumped into the space with gluten-free dough (et tu, Doughboy?) as has Columbus’ Donato’s with its gluten-free Donato’s and Sonoma Flatbreads brands. Gluten-free is projected to grow by 22% annually through 2016, per Mintel.

2.  Non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) verified food offerings have tripled since last year, in response to growing consumer demand, as well as organic manufacturers’  non-gmo efforts. Regardless of where you stand on the contentious GMO discussion, consumers are responding. 93% of Americans said that foods that have been genetically modified or engineered should be identified, per a recent New York Times poll and non-GMO has recently surpassed ‘organic’ among consumers’ desired food claims. Whole Foods’ requirement of GMO labeling on all products in U.S. and Canada by 2018, will also drive non-GMO consumer awareness. Promising, except only 11% of consumers say they are willing to pay more.

Non-GMO food and beverages are projected to grow at a 13% compound annual growth rate for the next few years and account for 30% of retail sales by 2017, even without mandatory labeling, per Packaged Facts. General Mills, Smart Balance, Ben and Jerry’s, Chipotle, and Kashi have all taken proactive stances on GMOs by either eliminating them or pushing for increased labeling. To help manufacturers and consumers with product and ingredient sourcing, the verification body, the Non-GMO Project has established a centralized database. Buckeye brag: Marzetti launched Mamma Bella GMO free garlic breads, led by Fisher alum Adam Koenigsberg.

3. Proteins, Popcorn, Chia and Kale were prevalent in multiple categories. New protein-rich or enhanced products targeted to consumers who are reducing or eliminating red Popcorn Indiana brand(or all) meat from their diets included yogurts (whey and soy proteins), snack bars (almond and pea protein isolate), and pancakes (oats, quinoa, and whey). Popcorn, with its better-for-you consumer perception, was featured by over 25 companies in every mainstream and exotic flavor. Most intriguing were Popcorn Indiana’s fit brand, positioned as a low-calorie option, and chip’ins, a popcorn-based extruded snack chip. Chia continues to be a hot omega-3 rich and filling superfood in many bars, yogurts, drinks, as well as seeds alone. And kale, which has grown four-fold since 2008, is the hot supergreen in raw snacks, chips, sauces, dressings, and disturbingly: macaroons.

4. More Funding, Investments and Acquisitions – The health and wellness segment’s rapid growth is attracting interest and investment from multiple sources. Major food Food_Acquisitionscompanies are penetrating the segment via acquisition and joint ventures, such as Coca-Cola (Zico and Honest Tea). Heinz (Hain Celestial), and Campbell Soup (Plum Organics), and the sector has become a darling of private equity leaders such as Sherbrooke Capital (Angie’s Popcorn) and Alliance Consumer Growth (EVOL brand). There is also an explosion of funding available for smaller companies through food incubators and crowd-funding platforms, with over 25 new food and agriculture funding sources launched last year. This foretells both continued growth among increasingly well-capitalized companies, as well as improved product quality and rate of innovation.

5.  Local Participation –  Ohio was well represented by many of our friends at 19 companies. In addition to the aforementioned Marzetti and Donato’s, Almondina, Avitae, Bunker Ohio StateHill Cheese (Heini’s), Eurochoc Americas Corp., Fit Organic, Fremont Authentic Brands, Garden of Flavor, Gaslamp Popcorn (Rudolph Foods), Graeter’s, Herbal Science, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, 1-2-3 Gluten Free, R.A.W. Real and Wonderful, Swurves (Mike-Sells), Trophy Nut, Unistraw, and Wyandot Snacks exhibited, all of whom we expect are gearing up for the surge in new business… and hiring talented Buckeyes.”

Meet the Expert

Tammy Katz is an Adjunct Professor of Brand Management at the Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University, and Chief Executive Officer of Katz Marketing Solutions, a marketing and brand management consulting firm. She is particularly interested in brand management, marketing strategy, commercialization, corporate outreach, and consumer-driven innovation.

Samsung’s Strategic Apple Smackdown

Samsung continues to brilliantly challenge, and deposition, the Apple brand in its newest Galaxy S4 advertising campaign. Reminiscent of Apple‘s classic “I’m a Mac. I’m a PC” strategy, in which Apple strategically portrays IBM as inferior, old, and tired, Samsung contemporizes that idea by showing itself as the superior, younger, and cooler option. This continues Samsung’s successful strategy of demonstrating wins on brand performance and image vs. Apple that it has employed for several years.

It’s working beautifully, particularly at a time when Apple has finally shown some vulnerability. In fact, according to Interbrand‘s recent Best Global Brands report, Samsung was the biggest rising star in brand valuation – up 40% versus the prior year, now placing it as the world’s 9th most valuable brand. In addition, Samsung has grabbed the #1 market share position in smartphones, jumping ahead of Apple and Nokia. According to Ad Age, Samsung’s market share jumped to 30%, up 9 percentage points vs. the prior year, partly at Apple’s expense, who lost 2 share points. Beyond portraying Samsung’s users as far more savvy, bright, and aspirational, the campaign also persuasively communicates several of Samsung’s feature and performance advantages.

Samsung’s innovation and communication strategy beautifully position themselves as a leader, while strategically redefining the competitive brand as an inferior option.

Lessons learned:
1. Brand challengers can effectively surpass the leader by building brand performance and image superiority. The strategy works particularly well when you win on the primary benefits that drive brand selection and loyalty.
2. Exploit your competitors’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Even the most dominant brands have ‘chinks in the armor’ that you can exploit.
3. Innovate quickly and often. Market leaders often innovate and execute more slowly, deliberately, and have higher volume hurdles.

Marketing Innovation: How to be among the Successful 5%

Marketing innovation is a key source of revenue and profit growth, as well as a great opportunity to strengthen your brand and competitive advantage. Most companies’ annual plans rely on marketing innovation. According to Ernst & Young and BASES, only 5% of U.S. new products are successful. These are the seven Best Practices, including the avoidable common mistakes, among successful innovation companies:

1. Set Innovation Goals and Accountability – This is a simple idea, but it is often overlooked. Successful innovators consistently set clear innovation goals, specifically:

• Sales, profit, and payback goals for the entire Innovation effort (all products and services), typically for a one-year or five-year timeframe and
• Sales, profit and payback hurdles for each project to merit consideration
• Both Marketing and Product Development have inter-dependent accountability for delivering these goals

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2. Demonstrate project viability before committing resources – Each potential new product should have demonstrable financial viability and market need before resources are allocated. This simple step is skipped with alarming consistency and is a major cause of downstream profitability problems and innovation failures. Answer these two questions at the Idea stage:
• Is the product financially viable? Insist on reviewing crude Year 1 and Ongoing (typically Year 3) Profit & Loss statements on each proposed project. This demonstrates whether the project is financially worthy of being considered, needs rework, or should be thrown out. The Year 1 P&L is important to understand the potential investment issues. The Ongoing P&L illustrates the ongoing business model.
• Is there a true consumer unmet need for the product? You must be able to answer: 1) who is the target; 2) what is the relevant consumer benefit? (Note that it must be an important, motivating benefit to consumers, not a “nice to have,’ lower value benefit) 3) how is it superior to competition? When you launch a new product or service, you are betting that consumers will change their existing purchasing behaviors and choose you. You must be superior to their current options and solve issues they care about. Be sure. Ask your target market.

2. Leverage True Core Competencies – The most successful innovators exploit what they can and do best. They wisely avoid areas where they lag competitors. Innovation winners have a deeper self-knowledge of core competencies than the superficial “leader in X industry.” The Management Team has rigorously evaluated and determined their best internal processes, to find what they do, or realistically can do, better than their competitors. For example, Frito-Lay fully understands and leverages its store-door delivery, manufacturing, and snack innovation core competencies. Conversely, even uber-performer Frito-Lay has made the costly error of presuming snack food brilliance would translate to success in the very different cookie industry. Play from strength. Know and stick to your core competencies.

3. Drive Collaboration to Optimize Outcomes – Extraordinary innovation results consistently occur when R&D, Marketing and Operations collaborate and continue to improve the idea throughout its evolution. Continue reading

5 Ways to Maintain Brand Growth and Relevance: StarKist’s Revitalization Strategy

StarKist‘s marketing strategy is a rich example of maintaining brand relevance and accelerating profitable growth.    Despite having some significant brand challenges:  a mature category, a mature brand, dated brand equities, and pricing challenges, their strategy is spectacular and effective.

Here are the 5 brand revitalization best practices they’ve nailed:

1.   Maintain a clear, consistent, and relevant brand positioning  –  StarKist’s brand’s positioning is the best brand of high quality, nutritious tuna.   This has been a virtual constant for over 60 years.   Consistency is relatively easy, but maintaining relevance over time is more difficult and even treacherous, if you don’t do it.    They have brilliantly adapted, but not radically changed, the brand positioning to ‘the best brand of high quality satiating nutritious tuna.’     That transformative “tweak” moves pre-packaged tuna from dated and increasingly irrelevant, to a brand that is contemporary, appealing and compelling for today’s consumer.

  

Continue reading

The Chobani brand Yogurt Coup: Reinvent the Category

We applaud Chobani‘s explosion to +$900 million in annual sales since its 2007 startup by attacking the yogurt category with a truly differentiated and superior brand.    Not only have they catapulted to stardom, they’ve even beat the brilliant, entrenched competitors, like Yoplait (General Mills) and Dannon.    They’re among the elite brands, like WhiteStrips, Swiffer, Apple, and Dyson who invent and dominate new category segments by reinventing their category.   

First, Chobani designed a much better product.    Their CEO and founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, thought American yogurt was horrible and developed a premium, Greek-style yogurt, which is thicker, creamier, more protein, less sweet, and has a healthier perception.   They challenged many of the conventional approaches of what product design seemed to drive the category.

They also rethought pricing and price/value.   Continue reading