Weed Rules, Collagen Is Hot, and Organic Goes Digital
I love attending Expos. I bounce off the energy created by the thousands of attendees walking the floors and the hordes of vendors that fill the Convention Center. I love engaging with the diverse array of brands; from natural and organic foods to health and beauty products; from the big power house brands to the small startups. There is so much activity – you feel the genuine passion of those who tell you their stories and what inspired them to create their brand. You’re exposed to great design and an entrepreneurial spirit that’s contagious. You meet a never-ending stream of amazing, culturally diverse people from the time you enter to the time you leave. Expos are a place where you can kick off your day with an organic, fair-trade coffee (complete with an uplifting brand backstory), let your taste buds roam wild, learn about the latest food and technology trends, and if you’re feeling extra adventurous, start your next morning with a work out class at 7.30am (promise I’ll make it next year!) All this under one roof!
Yes, Expos are awesome. And for those with an open mind and a willingness to listen and learn, they can be an incredibly uplifting and positive experience.
Here are some takeaways from this year’s Expo East…
Growing Like A Weed
Most notable movement for me is the rise of Hemp based products both in food and beauty (CBD oil also very prominent in beauty). Hemp based products are very high… in protein and Omega 3 and 6 (at least this is the message being pushed). Brands are definitely seeking ways to better educate both customers and retailers on the health benefits Hemp provides. There is certainly an opportunity in this space for the existing brand leaders to continue educating as well as exploring new ways to better communicate all the health benefits through more engaging branding and messaging. The Hemp movement is here to stay and will only keep growing.
Plants. It’s What’s For Dinner.
This leads nicely into the continuous growth of plant-based products. There were more brands this year than last promoting the benefits of plant based ingredients across food and beauty with lots of product innovation including plant based pizzas and burritos to drinks and healthcare/beauty products.
Get A Collagen Education
Staying with the healthy movement. Collagen is another hot ingredient becoming more prominent in the supplements sector. Brands including ZINT, VP and Nordic Naturals were all promoting the benefits of Collagen for your body’s joints, skin care, hair care and nails. Apparently it will help you ‘glow’ and also better your skins moisture within 6 weeks (by up to 11% – I’m sold!). I was well educated by some of these brands on the benefits of Collagen and have enough samples to test the 6 weeks challenge for myself! Certainly an interesting movement and one that follows the overall health and wellness trend, which is driving so much brand innovation across all sectors.
Brands Taking Stands
On a very positive note, I met three brands (Cure, This Bar Saves Lives, The Soulfull Project) promoting ‘buy our product and we’ll donate one to a food bank or a person in need’. This giving back to the community is certainly one way of making your brand stand out from the rest and is making a truly positive impact in the world. Very encouraging to see and great that these brands are leveraging Expo East for exposure and support. You have my full support and will turn to these brands for my snacking needs 🙂
Organic Goes Digital
Organic Valley once again delivered, in my opinion, the best booth of the Expo. Last year they had a VR experience where customers experienced a virtual tour of a farm. This year you could Facetime a Farmer. Genius! Great how Organic Valley have married their authentic and organic brand image with smart and modern technology. They are delivering on their brand promise of bringing customers closer to their farmers and the farming process both in an educational and fun way.
…To A Tea
Finally, being a Brit – I have to make some small observations about the Tea industry considering this is our national drink of choice. One of my favorite brands I met was a tiny tea brand from Korea – IDO-TEA. Their small booth was highly educational with their ingredients on display to touch and smell. They visualized their brand story and tea fermentation process at their booth and recently got approved to distribute via Amazon, which is awesome news for them. And their teas tasted great!
In other Tea news – cold brew Nitro Tea is making moves to compete with the cold brew Nitro Coffee trend. Harney & Sons have launched a Nitro Tea in a can – hot cinnamon spiced (served cold). It tasted absolutely delicious! The core benefits being less caffeine and more refreshing than cold brew coffee. Will be interesting to watch this movement – not sure how popular it will be in the US.
Thank you to all those that made this year’s event another great show and for all the hard work it takes to make these show happen. Hope to see many of you at Expo West in March!
Damien is Engagement Director at CBX