Fred Hart is joining us on the show today. We had Fred on the podcast back at episode #30, and if you haven’t listened to that interview yet, we talked all about honing brand strategy, and I’d definitely recommend checking that one out.

Fred is a Partner and Creative Director of Interact, one of the most sought after packaging design firms in the industry.

Part of Fred’s job as creative director is keeping a pulse on industry trends and how to leverage that knowledge to set brands up for the future. Fred and his team just recently returned from the Fancy Foods show in New York

On the show today, we talk about:

  • Interesting categories and trends popping up in the Natural Products industry
  • How Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods could have a huge impact on packaging design
  • What steps you can take to get your brand strategy buttoned up

And plenty more…

Listen to the Interview on iTunes>>>

Fred is a rock star in the industry and has plenty to teach us all in his approach to keying in on trends, branding, and design.

Show Notes:

Fred was recently voted one of the Top 30 under 30 for CPG.  He’s just returning from the Fancy Foods Show, a tradeshow that happens twice a year, in New York City and San Francisco.

Upon his return from the summer show in New York, we got a chance to sit down with him and talk about the noteworthy trends he saw in the CPG industry.

The first trend Fred talks about was the American pallet’s discovery of its taste buds.  He says that, for the most part, the American pallet has been considered very bland.  Think: meat and potatoes.  But, at the expo this year, we’re seeing American’s finally get excited about different spices and flavors.  Everywhere from sauces to snacks.  Primarily Indian and Korean.

There were two brands experimenting with kimchi at this expo.  And, Pipcorn’s making ghost pepper popcorn with activated charcoal.  So, Fred says to think about this movement like Sriracha 2.0.

The second trend we’re seeing is plant based waters.  Coconut water is a thing of the past now that we have watermelon water, maple water, and probably most popular, cactus water.  And while the inspiration for this trend is a little tricky to pinpoint, Fred explains that it’s most likely because the food and beverage industry is currently “returning to the source.”

Consumers are looking for “natural functionality.”  They want a product that’s as close to its origin as possible.  Rather than something that’s just infused, like Vitamin Water.

The third trend: caffeine.  Fred says, “America’s infatuated with caffeine.”  We see cold brew coffee everywhere.  One of Interact’s clients is actually a cold brew on tap.  So basically, boxed wine, but coffee.  And, the caffeine trend has also transcended just coffee.  Tea’s getting in on it, too.  At the show, there was a cold brew tea product, so it drinks like a tea, with all the caffeine of a cold brew coffee.

And one of the last trends Fred touches on is one he describes as “free of means full of.”  Which he describes using the gluten-free example.  A couple of years ago, the only people reaching for gluten free bread were people with celiac disease.

But now, gluten free, dairy free, and other alternatives are just as delicious and indulgent as the real thing.  So, people have the choice to avoid different ingredients, but still get the same experience.

CPG Packaging Trends

Fred also discusses how this newfound creative freedom when it comes to packaging is a trend in-it-of-itself.  He says that at the show, the power of design and presentation is so important.  Even brands without big booths, as most emerging brands are, had tabletop presentations to remember.

And, design and presentation are so important when building a brand because people don’t read, they recognize.  You want a product consumers can spot out on a shelf.  That still touches back to who you are as a brand.  Knowing who you are is actually one of the most important pieces to bran strategy, according to Fred.

He says, you have to be self-sacrificing.  You may have three things that your brand really stands for, but you’re going to be a lot better honing in on one, than you are trying to communicate all three.  The more you can focus on that one thing that sets your brand apart, and makes you “you,” the tighter your branding will be.

When you understand why you’re doing something, then you’re your own best customer.  Fred says it’s important for both him, and the entrepreneurs to know, why they’re making something.  What purpose is it serving?  If you focus on this, it helps your branding.

And, there is more room to play with your presentation now because of the internet.  All of your claims can be made on your webpage, freeing up the packaging space to be a little more competitive and aesthetic in design.

While talking about the internet, we obviously couldn’t get through this interview without discussing the Amazon-Whole Foods merger.  Fred describes his outlook on it as “optimistic.”  He thinks that Amazon can help Whole Foods democratize natural food.  And he thinks that, like with any merger, Amazon is going to do what it does best, while also learning and still respecting the Whole Foods culture.  So, win-win.

If you want to see what Fred, and Interact, are up to then the best way to do so is there Instagram: @interactboulder.

And, if you want to see some of the trends Fred discussed from the Fancy Foods Show for yourself…

Check out Fred’s photos here>>>

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