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People tend to have strong emotions associated with the things they put into their bodies, so words and presentation matter.
Say, “It’s time to take your medicine,” and that may elicit groans. Taking pills is not something people tend to enjoy, and as a result may be easier to skip. On the other hand, it’s also good for them, and even critical to health in many cases.
Now, say, “It’s snack time,” and people tend to perk up. A treat is something they’re probably going to make time for, and look forward to every day. The flipside here is that the snack may not be the healthiest option – in fact, it probably isn’t most of the time.
So the question becomes, how do you take nutrients that are good for people and present it in a way that makes them perk up when it’s time to eat.
Big Little Bar is looking to provide the answer.
The brand created a bar that is designed to provide 100% of a person’s 13 daily essential vitamins and Omega-3s, while also tasting good. The team set out to provide a product for women that reimagined the multivitamin.
“Big Little Bar was born out of the idea that our foods should be doing more for us,” said Big Little Bar President Ashley Hocking said. “After uncovering the data around how many women are not getting all the essential nutrients through food alone – nutrients critical to protecting our mind and body as we age – we knew we wanted to create a solution that was able to give women these critical nutrients in an effective, enjoyable and convenient way.”
With the growth of wellness in recent years, there is more convergence of medicine and food. Data from The Hartman Group shows that nearly half of functional food and beverage consumers are using these products as a ‘treatment’ as opposed to a prevention. They’re seeking improved bone health, improved gut health and more. The idea of food as medicine is now tangible.
As they set out to bring that to life in product form, Hocking said the team observed how the multivitamin hasn’t changed much over 30 years. At the same time, gummy vitamins have been rising in popularity. While they can go down easier than a capsule and are almost candy-like, the brand’s team took notice of how many of these products have potentially harmful additives like gums, sugar alcohols and artificial dyes. Further, they often don’t deliver all of the daily nutrients in one product.
“We believe that we will continue to see innovative formats for supplements…as pill fatigue is real,” Hocking said. Especially for younger generations, supplements and pills are what their parents take to stay healthy, and it works for them and their lifestyle, so it’s no surprise that the younger generations also want something that fits their unique and busy lifestyle, as well.”
(Courtesy of Big Little Bar)
The Big Little Bar team believes they’ve improved on existing multivitamin options in three areas.
For one, they wanted it to taste better. As Hocking puts it, “Who says taking your vitamins can’t taste like a delicious snack?”
They also wanted it to have more and better nutrients. Omega-3s have great benefits for heart and brain health, as well as beauty. But too few people are getting enough of them, Hocking said. The vitamins in the bar would likely require many different capsules to deliver.
Finally, they put a priority on better absorption into the body. This was another big reason why they landed on food. The inclusion of chocolate chips and dried cranberry bits served to sweeten the deal, not only to give consumers seeking something to look forward to, but because they help the body better process these nutrients.
When it came to the format for the product, the bar stood out. It was “familiar and relatable,” Hocking said. Plus, they wanted it to fit with people’s busy schedules, and more than 80% of people consume a bar daily already.
The result is a bar that the team hopes can become the center of a daily wellness ritual. It’s designed to replace the dread of taking medicine that can be associated with multivitamins with the delight of a snack.
“With Big Little Bar we wanted to create a new product category to help differentiate us from the other supplement brands out there,” Hocking said. “...We are also positioning this as a product that fits your lifestyle, something you can take on the go and consume at your convenience.”
Currently, the bars are sold direct-to-consumer through the brand’s web store. The fact that it’s designed to be a daily product is underscored in how it’s sold. Consumers can purchase a subscription for $63, and will receive a new box of bars every 20 days.
The brand launched recently, and is seeing interest already from consumers, media and influencers. The team is preparing for growth to ramp up, and is focused on having the systems in place to do so.
“From an operational perspective, we’re focused on ensuring quality and consistency with the offering as we scale,” Hocking said. “We have our own manufacturing facility which makes the process easier.” On the plus side, they also have to encounter any supply chain issues.
As the product gets out more, the team is looking to continue to listen to customers. For instance, they’re eager to learn exactly how the bars fit into daily routines.
New categories are often formed in bringing together two diametric ideas that people previously hadn't thought to. This one has plenty: Big and little. Food and supplements. Healthy and tasty. Routine and delightful. In the end, the goal is to find the sweet spots between them.
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Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse offered thoughts on messaging amid inflationary shifts in consumer behavior.
After months of elevated inflation and interest rate hikes that have the potential to cool demand, consumers are showing more signs of shifting behavior.
It’s showing up in retail sales data, but there’s also evidence in the observations of the brands responsible for grocery store staples.
The latest example came this week from Campbell Soup Company. CEO Mark Clouse told analysts that the consumer continues to be “resilient” despite continued price increases on food, but found that “consumers are beginning to feel that pressure” as time goes on.
This shows up in the categories they are buying. Overall, Clouse said Campbell sees a shift toward shelf-stable items, and away from more expensive prepared foods.
There is also change in when they make purchases. People are buying more at the beginning of the month. That’s because they are stretching paychecks as long as possible.
These shifts change how the company is communicating with consumers.
Clouse said the changes in behavior are an opportunity to “focus on value within our messaging without necessarily having to chase pricing all the way down.”
“No question that it's important that we protect affordability and that we make that relevant in the categories that we're in," Clouse said. "But I also think there's a lot of ways to frame value in different ways, right?”
A meal cooked with condensed soup may be cheaper than picking up a frozen item or ordering out. Consumers just need a reminder. Even within Campbell’s own portfolio, the company can elevate brands that have more value now, even if they may not always get the limelight.
The open question is whether the shift in behavior will begin to show up in the results of the companies that have raised prices. Campbell’s overall net sales grew 5% for the quarter ended April 30, while gross profit margins held steady around 30%. But the category-level results were more uneven. U.S. soup sales declined 11%, though the company said that was owed to comparisons with the quarter when supply chains reopened a year ago and expressed confidence that the category is seeing a longer-term resurgence as more people cook at home following the pandemic. Snacks, which includes Goldfish and Pepperidge Farm, were up 12% And while net sales increased overall, the amount of products people are buying is declining. Volumes were down 7%.
These are trends happening across the grocery store. Campbell is continuing to compete. It is leading with iconic brands, and a host of different ways to consume them. It is following that up with innovation that makes the products stand out. Then, it is driving home messaging that shows consumers how to fit the products into their lives, and even their tightening spending plans.
Campbell Soup is more than 150 years old, and has seen plenty of difficult economic environments. It is also a different business today, and will continue to evolve. At the end of the day, continued execution is what’s required.
“If it's good food, people are going to buy it, especially if it's a great value,” Clouse said.