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White Paper

Know How to Grow: The Hartman Group Guide to Renovating, Building and Buying CPG Brands

The question that is often central to our strategic engagements is how best for business leaders to think about their existing assets — especially the large, legacy brands anchoring their portfolios — and how to evaluate the new opportunities for premium product development in spaces that have been foreign.
To really grasp the implications of the profound changes occurring in America’s eating behaviors and practices requires a different, disciplined approach to the study of today’s consumer.


Decoding Performance to Uncover Growth

Why would a company ignore what so many others in the industry have embraced and profited from? In Decoding Performance to Uncover Growth, we explore: how portfolios are performing, key considerations on the path to sustainable growth, and different growth strategies your organization should employ based on your position today.

White Paper

Lidl Comes to America

America’s teeming food-retailing landscape is going to get even tighter. Lidl and ALDI, two of Germany’s keenest discount retail competitors, are poised to continue their longtime intense European rivalry in the U.S. marketplace with the opening of Lidl’s first 20 stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in the spring of 2017. The chain will add another 80 stores by mid-2018, establishing a strong footprint with which to go head-to-head with ALDI and pose a formidable threat to many of America’s established food retailers. What this means for U.S. consumers is they are about to add yet another retailer to the growing array of food retailing options. And Lidl’s low-pricing strategy will be a significant draw.


Understanding the Future Market Potential of Trends

Spotting a trend is one thing, finding market potential in trends is quite another. In Understanding the Future Market Potential of Trends, we share our approach to identifying trends with a sharp focus on how your organization can monetize those trends, which relies on being able to execute at the product level via innovation or acquisition.


The Future of E-Commerce in Modern Culture

The recently completed merger of Amazon and Whole Foods has dramatically altered the possible future of e-commerce food and beverage in the U.S. market. At the same time, high-level sales trends and new consumer research point to the increasing likelihood of a medium-term acceleration in online grocery market share. But, to be honest, we do not see many people in the retail ecosystem taking this as seriously as they probably should. The popular reasons to downplay the online threat are all based on a flawed contextual understanding of how U.S. shopper behavior could change in the next ten years and the effect of this behavioral change on our food retail ecosystem.


Premium Marketing Strategy

While traditional marketers target brand communications at a group of people thought to be predisposed by (or desirable because of) a shared lifestyle or demographic, we argue that, in premium marketing, where you are building a low-awareness brand to cultural and financial scale, the only target audience that matters is consumers of premium symbolic and sensory attributes in your operating category.

White Paper

Wellness Myths & Misperceptions

Setting the Record Straight on Five Fables About Health and Wellness 

One of The Hartman Group’s pillars of expertise has been — and remains — the study of health and wellness. We’ve been there from the start. We are the de facto standard when it comes to customized research in this arena. And we are leaders when it comes to trends and “ahead-of-the-curve” thinking about health and wellness.

Over the years, we’ve seen our share of fads come and go, not to mention encountering more than a few fables about consumers and the health and wellness marketplace. This white paper demystifies five common wellness myths and misperceptions.


The New Playbook in Packaged Food

This issue of Hartbeat Exec updates readers’ on the state of America’s leading food/beverage companies, and explains why young, growing brands can only contribute to the long term success of a company’s portfolio if a new playbook is built to go alongside the old.

White Paper

Reimagining the Growth Agenda in Packaged Foods

Temporary commodity price deflation could distract packaged food and beverage companies from their long-term unit-volume challenges throughout their portfolio. They will revel in enhanced margins even with flat price points. Things will seem fine again. But when we look at per capita volume trends in packaged food, the story remains bleak.
The implications are troubling for those at the helm of food and beverage companies with large exposure to the U.S. retail food market:
  • Demand in the U.S. is tapping out for many legacy-branded food products, as these businesses can no longer count on population growth as a basic guarantor of topline growth
  • Innovation from many established legacy brands continues to produce short-lived topline hits, not sustained and/or large accretions
  • Innovation successes (i.e., large Y1 hits) are not necessarily making up for volume losses elsewhere
  • Brand portfolios are becoming segregated into decliners, flat liners and a small group of power brands, creating power struggles over marketing/innovation investments
Big Data analytics is the new savior: optimizing shelf space, optimizing pricing, optimizing trade promotions, optimizing, optimizing…

White Paper

Legacy Brand Turnaround Artists

As legacy-brand market shares continue to struggle or decline, we’re finding urgency in investing earlier in the product life cycle to set enterprises up for long-term, organic growth. And we’re finding greater urgency in contemporizing specific kinds of legacy brands with premium cues that keep them relevant in modern food culture.

In this free Hartman Group white paper, we examine how three iconic brands, Lipton RTD Tea, Velveeta and Nutter Butter, overcame their struggles of the past decade to reverse their downward topline dive. What did they do to survive and now thrive where so many other struggling brands have failed? 

White Paper

Optimizing Trends Analytics for a New Era

Today’s food trends based on real sales growth
The need for better performing innovation is growing. Learn why identifying trends via sales growth matters for your business and why traditional trend sources can allow misleading ideas into your innovational funnel, wasting valuable time and money on trends that may be fads in disguise. Data + nuance + rigor = Trend iD™


America's Supermarkets in Transition

The next ten years promise a major re-structuring of the supermarket sector, and elements of that future are already operating today. Trends suggest increasing consumer demand for America’s supermarkets to present themselves to the public much more like specialty food stores…just not priced they typically are.


The Premiumization of Private Label

Two years ago, we examined the long-term growth trends and structure of the private label food marketplace. At the time, we found distinct patterns based on permutations of market share and growth. In this issue, we will revisit those performance segments and see how they have been doing more recently, but we will also ask a more targeted set of questions related to the quiet hope that private label is now ready to premiumize: is private label actually experiencing the post-recession price premiumization that some foretold? If so, why are certain categories exhibiting this phenomenon while others aren’t and how much of this premiumization can be attributed to premiumization of product quality?

What we have found should be inspiring to retailers in general but very concerning to CPG companies, which should be very careful not to assume that, in historically brand-dominated categories, private label is still not a competitive issue.


Working the Product Life Cycle as Portfolio Strategy

For 2016’s first issue of Hartbeat Exec we sift through how the roles of brand and product interact with a brand’s position along the product life cycle. In this issue, a deep understanding of how consumers interpret brand compels a rethinking of portfolio management for long-term success. Additionally, this issue breaks down each segment in the product lifecycle with an analysis of sales performance as well as details on relevant brand and product symbolism.


Strategizing Simple in the Food and Beverage Marketplace

Since 2003, we have counted roughly 62 line extensions of mainstream CPG brands that have
attempted a “simple,” “natural” or otherwise less processed positioning.1 In 2015 alone, we
have seen an uptick in launches from major brands as well as several corporate announcements
regarding systematic, enterprise-wide plans to deprocess their branded food to varying degrees. The latter
tactic is too new for us to analyze its effect on specific brands. But many marketers continue to wonder if
the former tactic, the simple/natural line extension, actually produces a meaningful consumer response.


The Power of Marketing to Restaurant Occasions

This summer's issue of HartBeat Exec reveals the power of occasion-based marketing for the food service industry. To accomplish this, the article a) unveils the Hartman Restaurant Occasion Wheel, which segments restaurant-going behavior into distinct occasions, b) delves into the patterns of four of these occasions and c) explores the implications on QSR and FSR marketing.


HB Exec Q2 2015: Market Dynamics of the New Premium

In this issue of HB Exec, we will focus on furthering a deeper understanding of the burgeoning premium landscape through purposive sampling of categories with very different premium market performance and very different positionings in modern food culture.


Hartbeat EXEC Q1 2015: U.S. Packaged Food at a Crossroads

To start off 2015, this issue of Hartbeat Exec constructs a product-focused lens to view food and beverage markets. The analysis presented: a) elaborates the crucial nature of product within a marketing mix, b) lays out a consumer-view driven competitive landscape, and c) explores how marketers and portfolio managers can rethink their brands’ cultural placement for sustainable natural growth.


Hartbeat Exec Q4 2014: Trend or Fad?

In this issue of HB Exec, we systematically deconstruct the question that forms the title of this issue to arrive at a new perspective on how to study trends and how to activate against trends information inside CPG organizations. We will explore: a) a literal answer to the question of how today’s marketers can distinguish between fads and trends in modern food culture, b) the ultimate business issues behind this perennial question, and c) how marketers can begin to let go of forecasting/ predicting and think more like venture capitalists.


The New Premium Marketplace in American Food Culture

In this quarter’s issue of Hartbeat EXEC, we: a) describe the new premium marketplace that is upending the competitive structure of more and more categories, b) uncover the key cultural factors that predispose specific categories to developing new premium growth segments, and c) point to some underdeveloped categories poised to undergo this radical transition from a mere commodity to highly profitable, business opportunities.