What is your background and what experience do you bring to VantagePoint?
I’ve been in marketing communications for 20 years on the client and agency side which explains the specs of grey hair. I most recently served as account director for another B2B agency and was able to oversee some high-profile accounts across multiple industries with a sweet tooth for foodservice. I’ve led numerous B2B award-winning campaigns all backed by solid research studies, brand strategies and creative briefs. I hold my master’s and bachelor’s degrees in business administration with an emphasis in marketing from Thomas More College.
Describe your role at VantagePoint.
Just like every superhero I have a bit of a dual identity at VantagePoint: research and strategy director by day and account supervisor 24/7. My primary role will be to oversee and conduct research studies in tandem with the account managers across the VantagePoint client portfolio. I will also have direct responsibility for a few clients — BMW, S&D Coffee & Tea, and Unified Brands — to help implement campaign strategies that contribute significant growth and profitability.
Explain the role of research in B2B brand strategy.
Clients ask us to provide a perspective on a variety of research topics:
- Brand strategies and value propositions
- Creative and marketing communication strategies
- Long-term growth and pricing strategies
The goal is to gather points of view and insights from key internal stakeholders, customers and prospects, competitors and other influencers. Uncovering those insights and differentiating factors is the best part of my job. Having fresh observations to effectively position a brand or launch a new product is crucial in the B2B space.
Are there any overarching research trends in the food and foodservice equipment manufacturing industries?
We’ve helped to identify several trending topics over the years in the foodservice industry from the sustainability movement to “farm-to-fork.” In 2016, the following three trends continue to generate buzz with one full disclaimer upfront…these are by no means new but ongoing trends to keep tabs on.
- Onsite Food Preparation
Consumers prefer food and beverages prepared from scratch as they perceive they are better for you and have an enhanced taste/quality. Chefs are using local and real, natural ingredients to create a closer bond to their communities and farmers that ultimately keeps local patrons coming back. Several chains and independent restaurants are dedicating more labor to onsite food prep. In addition to properly training your staff, equipment, sanitation, shelf life and other factors come immediately into play.
- Tis the Season
Sell-in of seasonal products and limited time holiday offers never goes away. The familiar flavors of peppermint, pumpkin or s’mores need to be fully stocked on the grocery aisles and QSRs depending on the season. Putting the controversy over holiday cups aside, Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and other household brands have capitalized on Christmas blends. For the traditional occasion where food takes center stage like Thanksgiving to the go-to comfort foods in the pantry, manufacturers need to be on constant alert. Extending those familiar choices with new or unique twists or infused flavors has also been trending.
- Co-Branded Flavors
QSRs and grocers are partnering with familiar confectionary brands to garner consumer attention with indulgent food and beverages:
- Peppermint & Oreo Cream Shake (Jack in the Box)
- Cocoa Puffs Frappuccino (Starbucks)
- Hershey’s Cakes and Cookies (CSM Bakery Products)
According to Progressive Grocer, CSM’s exclusive licensing agreement with Hershey’s represented a fifth of the retailer’s total dessert cake sales and drove up weekly cake sales as high as triple digits over the prior year in certain weeks.
What impact do you hope to have at VantagePoint and on VantagePoint’s clients?
I feel the greatest impact will be using my existing knowledge of the broader food industry that extends across multiple food and beverage manufacturers and commercial food equipment categories to present new, creative ideas to our clients. I will also call upon my other industry experience in banking, consumer packaged goods, education, insurance, transportation, and many more, to collaborate with our clients on ways to improve and compel target audiences to act. I’m always looking to enhance or optimize a marketing campaign and customer experience to help inform and accelerate purchase decisions.