It’s that time of year––in just a few short days, 70,000+ attendees will descend upon Anaheim, California for Natural Products Expo West 2018. There, they’ll get a glimpse of the latest natural and organic offerings in the food, beverage, health and beauty categories.
Seed’s Cherri Prince and Lauren Selman are looking forward to being among those in attendance. We were fortunate enough to catch up with both of them prior to their trip out west to get their thoughts about the expo.
So, what made you decide to return to Expo West?
LS: Last year was our first Expo rodeo, and as you can imagine, it was intense—like kid-in-a-candy-store intense. So this year I’m excited to return as a seasoned veteran and I know that I’ll be able to take better advantage of all Expo West has to offer.
This show, more than any other, is a must-attend for anyone looking to gain insight on what’s new and emerging in the fast-growing natural & organic space. The entrepreneurial food startups featured at the expo are the ones writing the narrative for the way the masses will eat in the near future and it’s really cool to see it all take shape. Plus with more and more CPGs acquiring the smaller, entrepreneurial guys lately, I think we’ll see a lot of serious innovation from everyone.
Oh, and one more reason to attend the expo—I can’t lie—the SAMPLES. I came home with an extra carry on full of food last year.
Why is it important for Seed to be there?
CP: New product innovation is core to what we do at Seed. We routinely work with 6 of the 10 top CPG companies in the world and many of our current clients are in the food and beverage industry. Seed is attending Expo West to help our clients find inspiration in the trends that are just bubbling to the surface in order to ensure that their brands are the ones leading the way.
At the end of the day, we believe that powerful insight and innovation requires literally getting out of the office and looking around. That is what Expo West is all about for us—it’s a great example of the kind of fieldwork Seed does on a weekly basis in order to stay hyper-connected to brands, categories, consumers and retailers.
What trends will you be tracking?
LS: It’s no surprise that women are a major topic of conversation lately. We’re already seeing many major male-dominated brands launch female-fronted versions of their products. My favorite most recent example is from Johnnie Walker… the brand introduced Jane Walker––Google it. SO COOL! Both Cherri and I are very in-tune with the growing economic power of Millennial Women so we’re expecting to see a lot more brands follow suit.
Besides the renewed focus on women, it will also be neat to see what products brands are introducing to help consumers slow the pace a bit. With people, companies and everything else moving at the speed of light, this is definitely a growing desire from consumers. We have witnessed lavender exploding in the market and all sorts of other sleep/relax solutions are gaining ground. I personally love this trend and look forward to seeing where this conversation goes.
Are you looking for “white space” in any particular categories?
CP: Store shelves are more crowded and competitive than ever—especially when it comes to food and beverages. It can be really tough to convince retailers to make room on the shelf for your new product—and even tougher to get consumers to notice and care once you’re there. I will especially be looking for emerging brands that have found a “white space” to leverage in the areas of portable snacks and beverages as well as those that have created new-to-the-world categories.
Any last thoughts or things you are looking forward to?
LS: Last year we saw a LOT of plant-based products. That trend is still going strong, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the new news is in that category.
CP: I’m really looking forward to the positive energy that permeates throughout Expo West. Most “Expo West” brands were founded and created by purpose-driven innovators and visionaries. You can feel that come through in all the people you meet there. You get a sense that you are part of something bigger and more meaningful than the products themselves.
Going to Expo West? Cherri and Lauren would love to connect with you there. Feel free to email them or reach out to them via LinkedIn. And be sure to follow Seed Strategy on our LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages for more updates on Cherri and Lauren’s adventures at Expo West.