EXPO WEST 2023 – Building Better Together
As a first timer at ExpoWest this year, the first words out of my mouth were WOW! The event was remarkable. The gathering was packed with so many inspiring stories, brands, and people, seeking to provide healthy products that will benefit others. The growth of the event was notable. 85,000 attendees rising from 58,000 in 2022. There were 3,100 Exhibitors and 900 of those were new. As a brand builder this event moved me, I couldn’t get enough of the caring and genuine brand stories.
You could literally feel the positive energy that surrounded the event as people and brands gathered from around the world. More and more small businesses and entrepreneurs are sharing their ideas with the world. Resilience through challenging times is evident as growth in the industry continues. Changing consumer needs fueled healthier habits during COVID that have had a lasting effect. According to SPINS data from the Nutrition Business Journal the market is forecasted to grow 4-6% annually through 2025.
There were several trends that we have been following for quite some time that continue to grow and evolve.
From a behavioral trends perspective: according to SPINS data, 88% of Values-Oriented Shoppers purchase groceries at least once a week. 65% of these shoppers are extremely or very adventurous to try new brands/products. Values-Oriented consumers are 2.5X more adventurous than the average consumer! This presents so much opportunity for us as brand builders to spark this curiosity.
We can partner with new and emerging brands to craft something really special that will connect valued customers with these great brands and their heart-felt mission. We can deliver this by emphasizing empathy and understanding as a cornerstone of the customer experience. Key here is ensuring brand stories deliver emotional resonance in the most authentic way.
We can share these stories, share the brand values, and make it a fascinating journey for the customer.
Functional Food on the rise as consumers look to feel better through everything they ingest from mushroom infused coffees to ayurveda powered chocolate to probiotic salad dressing and everything in between. Ashwagandha adaptogens, mushrooms, CBD, CBN, elderberry, probiotics, turmeric were all prominent ingredients.
Alternatives to alcoholic beverages continues to be a big trend with growth in Kombucha, non-alcoholic beer and CBD beverages just to name a few.
Some of the key innovation trends were around flavor adventuring, sugar being vilified and heritage ingredients. We were inspired by the brand Diaspora Co. single origin spices. Their mission is to put money, equity, and power into the best regenerative spice farms across South Asia, and bring wildly delicious, hella-potent flavors into your home cooking. Less changing of hands in the supply chain means the highest potency and freshness and their packaging is vibrant with life reflective of the communities the spices originate from.
BRANDS WE LOVED
This was certainly hard to pick but we narrowed to a few.
Supplemental powders that are focused on healthy brain activity for women as an everyday support as well as prevention for Alzheimer’s. The founders created these unique formulas and this brand after battling Alzheimer’s with a family member. Beautiful cause and fresh-modern packaging to deliver the message.
Wow, talk about a flavor punch! Mood-boosting, healthy tinctures and tonics were sprinkled throughout. Hany’s Harvest brings to life unique blends of centuries-old fire-cider recipes. The flavors were bold and delicious. They also went through packaging redesign and we loved their custom illustrations with a nostalgic heritage feel.
There was a plethora of new and vibrant chocolate offerings with functional benefits, beautiful packaging, color combinations and unique illustrations.
If there was a color associated with this year’s event, it was very boldy stated, HOT PINK! Pinks from shocking fluorescent to fuchsia were painted across the various displays on the floor. Rainbow and ombred hues were also present across the show in various visual representations and product categories.
Nature positive and building regenerative futures was a hot topic. We need to think differently. Courtney Pineau from, the Climate collaborative spoke eloquently about igniting the power of imagination to drive greater change and explore new ideas. We can use this idea as a jumping off point to remember that great ideas can come from anywhere, anyone. When I led the creative team at PetSmart, we created space for new and noteworthy ideas to be shared with decision makers. Team members were encouraged to spend a small percentage of time focused on passion projects many of which centered around sustainable materials.
If you have a great idea, share it… share it with your team, your leaders, through your own social media networks. You never know what conversation might start from sharing a nugget of an idea. A nugget that could become the next big idea and drive change. Creating partnership networks including radical collaboration and pre-competition collaboration were also discussed.
More sustainable products sell better. The world wants it, consumers are seeking these brands out and we are seeing shifts in purchase trends from a financial standpoint. 66% of consumers and 80% of young adults (18-34) are willing to pay more for sustainable brands (SPINS, 2023).
Sustainability requires strong and committed leaders. We have made great strides but there is so much we can still do together. It can feel like boiling the ocean, yet brands can start with small steps, do them well, learn and expand.
Upcycled is an emerging group we are really excited about. The Upcycled Certified™ Program is the world’s first third-party certification program for upcycled food ingredients and products. The flagship of the Program is the on-package mark, which helps retailers feature upcycled products on shelf, and indicates to consumers which products are Upcycled Certified™.
A GREAT experience, so many inspired brands, evolution of topics and new ways to look at how we build a better world together.
We are compiling a larger trend compendium and would love to share it with you. Please reach out if you are interested in learning more!
Like we say here at Lucid, always better together.
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