As a journalist working in the business-to-business food industry, I easily fall in love with trends. Whether it’s a baker introducing never-been-tried-before flavorings for a new line of bread, or a cookie producer carving out its own niche, today’s manufacturers continue to provide a plethora of options for that ever-changing shopper.
As a consumer though, I see the vast assortment of options tending to be a bit overwhelming. Why should I choose this cookie over that one? Which energy bar will give me the best bang for the buck? Gluten-free, no trans-fats, no high-fructose corn syrup; where do I start?
Thankfully, many of today’s bakers and producers have a strategy in place, a method behind the madness so-to-speak, and are launching new products that are primed and molded into becoming five-tool players on the field-displaying speed, power, throwing, fielding and an average that competitors can measure against.
While bakers and producers are creating new and innovative varieties, they’re also streamlining their stock keeping units to phase out the less successful kinds. When they’re reformatting their packaging, they’re also color-coding by brands and flavors and incorporating easy-to-open, easy-to-store and easy-to-transport options. And when they’re introducing a new product altogether, they make sure that it possesses star quality.
“To be an MVP in their respective industries, companies need to be innovators,” says Michelle Ferguson, executive vice president of marketing for Clif Bar & Co. “In our case, that means never being satisfied and making a variety of delicious offerings for consumers’ changing taste buds.”
Case in point-the Emeryville, Calif.-based company launched a series of product introductions that offer both flexibility and variety. Between the CLIF Bar Coconut Chocolate Chip bar, the CLIF CRUNCH granola bars, the expanded CLIF MOJO sweet and salty trail mix bars or the tweaking of two existing CLIF Bar varieties, Clif Bar & Co. exemplifies the power to provide ground-breaking products at lightening speed.
Lark Fine Foods, Essex, Mass., displayed its ability to play both offense and defense by launching an assortment of cookies made with whole grains, oats and 100%-all-natural ingredients.
“The key to finding a winning product or team is finding your niche and sticking to it,” says Nicole Nordensved, managing partner. “We’re not going to produce a candy-filled cookie or a Halloween cookie in the shape of a witch. All of our cookies are less sweet than most on the American market. We use the highest quality ingredients. Some of them are spicy and hot and all of them are deliciously different.”
Shopping for the perfect product takes time, research and know-how, especially in today’s roller-coaster economy where we’re all looking to stretch the dollar a bit more. As a journalist, I get it, I see it, I cover it.
But again, that’s why I love this industry. It’s filled with a variety of players who display all the right skills and attributes to hit a home run every time.
While the new methods of playing the game may change, as a consumer, I’m just thankful that there are some five-tool players on the field.