Monday, April 28, 2014

71st Annual WSWA Convention Wrap-Up: "Honey, I Shrunk the Display Racks"

The WSWA Convention in Vegas never disappoints and this year was no different. The GAP team returned to Gloucester more inspired than ever after three days of conversations with old friends and new, exciting brand innovation, and amazing opening-night cocktails featuring sponsors Heaven Hill, Florida Caribbean Distillers, Sazerac, and Proximo. With guest speakers like real-life Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort, and Captain Richard Phillips, who survived being hijacked by Somali pirates, this was a WSWA Convention for the record books.

The WSWA Convention is a premier event bringing together key distillers and wineries with exciting beverage brands along with other leading product and service providers within the industry. This was GAP’s fourth year as an exhibitor. And, for the first time, GAP was also a proud sponsor of the Convention. As always, our booth was a showplace for our latest innovative promotional items and custom displays and we were thrilled to connect there with old friends and to share what we do with new acquaintances.

GAP's Booth
In advance of the show, we wrestled with which of our award-winning display racks to bring to the sponsor hall. We ultimately called on the magic of Vegas (actually, one of our amazing partners) to shrink them down so we could bring a whole lot of them. These ‘miniature’ versions of some of our most successful displays were presented in a glass case, providing an amazing opportunity for us to share the creativity and diversity of our work. 
GAP's Display Case
In the spirit of market research, the GAP team experienced some of the emerging products in the wine and spirits industry, including cinnamon flavored whiskey and many new types and brands of vodka. Cinnamon flavored whiskey is huge right now, thanks to the success of Fireball, and many new brands are capitalizing on its popularity. In the vodka world, brands continue to differentiate themselves with interesting, new flavors and innovative packaging.

We also had the opportunity to visit several of our clients’ suites to sample some of their exciting new products and to gather additional insight into their marketing efforts. Some of our clients who participated in the conference were: Heaven Hill Distilleries, Phillips Distilling Company, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Florida Caribbean, and Imperial Brands.

And, two of our clients’ “hot” brands were amongst the award winners! Heaven Hill brought home a “Gold Medal” for Cinerator whiskey and Phillips Distilling Company won a gold for their latest UV brand launch – Sriracha

As a bonus, GAP team members Erica Nee and Nick Nappi appeared on this year's schedule of events (seen below). We look forward to seeing you all at next year’s show!

Erica and Nick!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Top 5 Food Trends of 2014

by Caitlyn Berns

In the promotions business, it is obviously important to have a solid understanding of trends in the promotions industry. At GAP, we believe that deep knowledge of the industries in which our clients compete is equally important. We continuously look for opportunities to learn about the key trends facing our clients at trade shows, during client meetings, and through an array of trade publications. We focus much of our research in food and beverage promotions, and thought we’d share some insights into the Top 5 Food Industry Trends for 2014.

1. Promoting Product Quality

Consumers are showing greater interest in knowing where the food they eat is coming from. Food producers are starting to highlight the origins of their products and ingredients in order to regain customer confidence. Consumers are interested in socially responsible food products and are looking for terms such as “free-range poultry,” “natural,” “organic,” and “locally grown,” among others. These labels instill trust in many food products and often allow companies to command premium prices for their products.

2. Sustainability

Many consumers are also looking for products from eco-friendly companies. Men and women are equally likely to consider sustainability as a factor when making food-purchasing decisions. They are also equally likely to pay more for local food options. Millennials, ages 18 to 24, are more interested in purchasing food from companies that support a social issue and/or charity. The number of restaurants offering sustainable menu items has grown more than 34% since 2011, and sustainable menu items are up more than 75% for that same time period. Food manufacturers which produce items in eco-friendly packaging have also gained market share over competitors.

3. Social Media Marketing

Through the use of social media, trendy, high-quality and unique products that would historically have reached only small niche segments have been able to gain much braoder audiences. Using social media to create a customer experience that supports the sharing of opinions on products really helps food companies appeal to consumers.

4. Nutrition Initiatives

Enhanced attention to nutrition is key to improving public health. Some have found that Americans are willing to sacrifice variety and even pay more to eat healthy. Many food and beverage companies are are capitalizing on this trend by offering more nutritious food and beverage choices.

5. Healthier Food Options for Kids

The National Restaurant Association has launched the Kids LiveWell program, which helps parents and children select healthy menu options through a mobile app.

The food industry continues to target children while also attempting to appeal to parents. Using characters that kids love in packaging encourage children to ask for a product. Incorporating keywords such as “natural” and “organic” increases product appeal to parents. Parents are also interested in whatever might help them better organize meal planning and shopping. Food companies can utilize promotional giveaways designed to assist parents in these areas while growing brand awareness and brand loyalty.