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If you’ve been paying attention…at all…to the CPG industry these days, then you can probably guess what I’m about to say:

CBD oil and all the products it infuses are the hottest thing since…well, anything, it seems. It’s taking the health and wellness category, and potentially the food industry as a whole by storm, FDA approval be damned. It seems the mantra of the pro-CBD movement is “let no product be left unturned,” thus we’re seeing CBD oil-infused pet products, beverages, lotions, and so, so much more.  

In short, CBD is where it’s at.

Or is it?

I’m all for products featuring ingredients that are better-for-you, and will aid a person on his or her health and wellness journey. I’m also all for products that work in these ingredients smartly, and aren’t simply throwing ingredients into products because said ingredient is buzzworthy.

Because while a new ingredient may be making waves, that doesn’t mean you, as a supplier, should drop everything and rush to work it into your product formula, or even consider including it in your formulation. (I’m looking at you, Coca-Cola and Mondelez.)

Here are three questions to ask yourself about your product, if you’re considering going down the CBD path:

1.     Is it right for your product? Assume that the FDA is going to give CBD its stamp of approval, blowing open entry for innumerable new products. What would your product gain from the addition of CBD? Besides, of course, tapping into a very prominent trend. It’s a question suppliers really need to think about, because if it doesn’t work out, and consumers aren’t flocking to this new version, there’s damage control that will need to be done when you switch back to the original formula. Think about the implications beyond recent headlines.   

2.     Are you adding full-spectrum, or CBD isolate? There’s a difference, and using one or the other could affect the effectiveness of your product. Educate yourself before you add one or the other.

3.     Does your audience really want it? This plays into the first question, but it’s important enough to consider every angle. Who is your audience, and are they interested in CBD-infused products? If they are, great! You could really deliver on a consumer demand. And if they aren’t, great! Not everyone is going to be a CBD enthusiast, and if your product is already a hit with consumers, there’s no reason to force the issue. (In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)

Still considering it? Cool. Just make sure to do your research so you know exactly what it is that you’re including in your product, what your consumers want, and what it can—or can’t—do for your product. Be an informed supplier, and consumers will thank you.  

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Recent market figures show that the U.S. beauty retail market – including the categories of cosmetics, skincare and hair – accounts for $56.4 billion in annual sales.1 Danziger, Pamela N. Sephora, Ulta And The Battle For The $56B U.S. Beauty Retail Market. Forbes. August 6, 2018. Yet within this massive market, the clear emerging trend is that small is big.


Independent beauty brands are popular, as consumers enjoy the thrill of discovering great new products and brands. Younger consumers in particular seek locally made, artisanal, and natural products.2 Kestenbaum, Richard. The Biggest Trends In The Beauty Industry. Forbes. September 9, 2018. Even Amazon has launched an Indie Beauty Shop on its e-commerce site in recognition of this powerful consumer trend toward smaller brands.3 Brown, Rachel. Amazon Launches Indie Beauty Shop Dedicated To Emerging Brands Within Its Marketplace. Beauty Independent. June 18, 2018.

“Being small and nimble … allows the brand to adapt to its customers in a way the larger players simply can’t.”

~ Robert Schaeffler, CEO, DevaCurl

To showcase the variety and innovation among small beauty brands, the Indie Beauty Expo, held May 15 and 16 in Dallas, Texas, celebrated independent beauty brands to  support the growth and success of the entrepreneurs behind them.

Retail buyers and consumers in attendance gained insights into indie brands, which are growing quickly as most retailers are expanding their assortment with unique products from smaller suppliers.

The event highlighted in-demand trends, which can help both beauty brands and retailers stay competitive and drive business.

For instance, key trends within the beauty industry include:

  • Organic: Consumers are more discerning about what they buy, opting for products containing fewer chemicals, allergens and other potential irritants.

  • CBD-infused products: The compound cannabidiol, found in cannabis and hemp, is now an increasingly popular ingredient in beauty products ranging from moisturizers to mascaras.

  • Diversity: Since people come in a rainbow of complexions and reflect a range of beauty needs, more consumers now seek personalized product experiences that fit their unique needs as opposed to  mass market, one-size-fits-all products.

  • The power of now: Younger consumers prefer products that deliver immediate results, such as beauty masks, rather than rich skin creams that protect their complexion over the long term.4 Terlep, Sharon. Millennials Change the Complexion of the Beauty Business. The Wall Street Journal. May 3, 2016.

Events like the Indie Beauty Expo can help small beauty brands stand out, connect directly with consumers and retail buyers, and showcase their unique products. In case you missed the Dallas event, the next Indie Beauty Expo will take place in New York City on August 21-22, 2019.

   [ + ]

1. Danziger, Pamela N. Sephora, Ulta And The Battle For The $56B U.S. Beauty Retail Market. Forbes. August 6, 2018.
2. Kestenbaum, Richard. The Biggest Trends In The Beauty Industry. Forbes. September 9, 2018.
3. Brown, Rachel. Amazon Launches Indie Beauty Shop Dedicated To Emerging Brands Within Its Marketplace. Beauty Independent. June 18, 2018.
4. Terlep, Sharon. Millennials Change the Complexion of the Beauty Business. The Wall Street Journal. May 3, 2016.
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When co-founders Josh Williams and Eric Prum launched their first product as college students six years ago,  they knew their idea for The Mason Shaker was not only a good one, but it needed to get out into the retail world. The duo’s eye-catching and functional food and drink essentials can now be found in stores nationwide under the rapidly growing W&P brand, with no signs of slowing down. With the help of RangeMe, W&P is targeting retailers and tapping into new markets. Read on to find out how W&P was able to capitalize on emerging trends and implement RangeMe into their business plan.

Trendsetting products

In 2012, just as the mason jar trend was taking off, Williams and Prum were inspired to create their first barware product, “The Mason Shaker,” which turned the classic ball jar on its head, modifying and reinventing it into a cocktail shaker. The bar essential was an instant hit, and the duo decided to capitalize on their innovative design strategy and trend spotting aptitude to grow their product line from mixing glasses to ice trays to their leading product, the “Carry on Cocktail Kit” which is sold across retailers big and small. With a growing product assortment and distinctive, functional designs, W&P has established a name for themselves in the houseware industry.

In comes RangeMe

W&P is growing quickly and is seeing new opportunities to expand its customer base and reach new retailers that may not initially be familiar with the design-oriented brand. “W&P can currently be found anywhere from department stores to small independent mom and pop shops,” says Hannah Bartch, sales and business development manager at W&P. “There is even a section of the team that focuses on custom private label opportunities. We’re launching products every season, meaning we’re constantly searching for new retail stores to get into.”

Bartch decided to create a Verified RangeMe Profile because “a lot of grocery chains that we wanted to reach out to were already on RangeMe,” she says. “When you go to their product submission page on their website it directs you to RangeMe. This is what initially nudged us to create a profile since we saw a large amount of buying opportunity on the platform. The larger retail chains buying process is systematic and it is important to be on a platform like RangeMe if you want to get in front of the right people.”

Since being on RangeMe, the Profile Insights feature has become a favorite for Bartch and the W&P team. She uses it to track and manage retailers that have been checking out their profile and determine opportunities in retailers to connect with on and off the platform.

World take over

Currently, W&P’s bread and butter is their strong presence in independent and small boutique retailers. With their wide assortment of products, they see a huge opportunity for placement in grocery and specialty retailers, or even fast-casual restaurants.

The W&P team is also keeping an eye on trends that can help them design new products and determine which retailers could make strong, strategic partners. They’re investing in the sustainability movement, as they’ve seen its importance to consumers, in addition to being an essential part of the company’s overall mission. This initiative inspired them to launch the Porter collection in hopes of inspiring consumers to eliminate their single-use plastic.

W&P has seen strong success since their inception, which Bartch attributes to a sincere desire to bring to market products that work for everyone. “W&P has designed products for everyone that are of quality, that work, and are functional,” she says. ‘We are implementing all the necessary steps to increase our visibility with retail buyers. We are now found nationwide and we’re working on expanding globally. Get ready for world take over!”

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The consumption of plant-based meat products recently reached a tipping point due to intense consumer demand and aggressive expansion strategies among savvy brands, including market leader Beyond Meat. Now product innovation and competition in this category are shaking up the global grocery and consumer packaged goods (CPG) sectors.

Last year total U.S. retail sales of plant-based meat substitutes grew more than 23% to exceed $760 million.1 citation stuff According to Nielsen sales data, plant-based product sales are growing by double digits across most categories, whereas animal-based foods in those same categories face slow growth or declining sales in every region across America. Today major grocery retailers are taking consumers’ hunger for plant-based meat seriously.2 Bushnell, Caroline. Plant-Based Makes Kroger’s Top Five Food Trends for 2019. GFI.org. October 30, 2018.

Why is plant-based meat so popular?

Younger adults in particular are fuelling the trend toward plant-based meat, as they are informed, values-driven consumers who care about eating healthy foods, animals’ well-being, sustainability, and the ethical and social impacts of the products they buy.3 Evans, Pete. Plant-based eating goes mainstream as Beyond Meat targets Canadian grocery shelves. CBC News. April 27, 2019. ,4Ryan, Tom. Where’s the (alt) beef? RetailWire. April 29, 2019. A survey by market intelligence agency Mintel found more consumers are reducing meat consumption and moving towards plant-based diets. Nearly 80% of American Millennials eat meat alternatives (vs. half of non-Millennials) and one-third of U.S. consumers (and 40% of Millennials) plan to buy more plant-based food products in the next year.5 Johnson, Patty. What Consumers Really Think About Meat Alternatives. Mintel Blog. October 1, 2018.

The nonmeat market is attracting people who like meat,
not just vegetarians and vegans.


~ Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, Senior Director, Agri-Food Analytics Lab6 Charlebois, Sylvain. Vegan cheese and fake meat: A recipe for food appropriation? The Globe and Mail. February 15, 2019.

Even The Economist declared 2019 the “Year of the Vegan” due to veganism’s magnetism, as a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans say they are vegans or vegetarians.7 Parker, John. The year of the vegan. The Economist. December 5, 2018. One in three Americans considers themselves a flexitarian, which means they do not follow a specific eating style, and instead combine plant-based and meat-based diets.8 Gervis, Zoya. One third of Americans consider themselves ‘flexitarian.’ New York Post. October 26, 2018. Flexitarians and consumers who skew more carnivorous are shifting their consumption away from animal meats, which has increased demand for plant-based meat beyond the loyal audience of vegans and vegetarians.

Nearly half of U.S. consumers cite health concerns, including heart health and weight management, as the main factor driving both their consumption of plant-based proteins and meat reduction.9 Johnson, Patty. What Consumers Really Think About Meat Alternatives. Mintel Blog. October 1, 2018. In addition, taste and affordability are key success factors for plant-based products that compete with meats derived from animals.

Global spotlight on Beyond Meat
California’s plant-based meat supplier Beyond Meat has been making global headlines, especially since its impressive initial public offering (IPO) on May 2, 2019. Beyond Meat has earned phenomenal demand for its meatless fast food burger, which is available in 27,000 restaurants around the world, helping the brand take the lead in this thriving category.

The company’s successful business strategy involved deliberately partnering with quick serve restaurants like A&W before selling to grocery chains. Seeing and tasting the cooked product in a restaurant may have proven more appetizing to consumers than seeing uncooked products in a grocery store cooler, helping Beyond Meat earn consumers’ trial, trust, and loyalty. Now, Canadian-based chain Tim Hortons is testing how well Beyond Meat’s plant-based sausages perform in select markets.

To keep up with this food trend, rival Burger King is launching its plant-based Impossible Whopper in more markets and McDonalds is currently testing its own plant-based burger exclusively in Germany.10 Lucas, Amelia. Beyond Meat shares hit all-time high after Tim Hortons adds its sausage to menu. CNBC. May 15, 2019. 11 Schaltegger, Megan. A Plant-Based Burger Is FINALLY Coming To McDonalds. Delish.com. May 13, 2019.

Market responsiveness delivers more consumer choice
Grocery retailers and CPG brands are seeing how well plant-based meat products are faring in foodservice, and are now adapting to this insatiable consumer demand.

  • Whole Foods Market stores have devoted an entire freezer exclusively to vegan brand Beyond Meat and added signage to encourage consumers to “Try the trend” by purchasing the brand’s plant-based burgers and sausages.12 Pointing, Charlotte. Whole Foods Just Dedicated an Entire Freezer to Beyond’s Vegan Meat. Live Kindly. May 8, 2019.
  • Costco carries Don Lee Farms’ vegan Organic Plant-Based Burgers, which “bleeds” just like real beef. Within 60 days of launching the product nationwide, Costco sold 1 million units.13 Axworthy, Nicole. Kroger Introduces Vegan Bleeding Burger to 2,000 US Locations. VegNews. April 17, 2019.
  • Kroger recently announced it would add Don Lee Farms’ vegan bleeding burger to its assortment in 2000 U.S. locations.14 Ibid.
  • Walmart carries multiple plant-based meat brands, including Gardein and Yves Veggie Cuisine, which People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) named among “vegan meat brands that are changing everything.”15 Vegan meat brands that are changing everything. PETA. 2019.
  • Trader Joe’s carries a wide assortment of vegan meat products, including its private label Chickenless Crispy Tenders and Meatless Meatballs.
  • Nestle, the world’s biggest packaged foods group, introduced meat-free burgers under the Garden Gourmet “Incredible Burger” brand.16 Nestle goes vegan with meat-free burger range. CNBC. April 2, 2019.
  • Unilever acquired the Dutch meat-substitute company The Vegetarian Butcher.

Additional plant-based meat brands include Boca Foods, Field Roast Grain Meat Co., Lightlife, Morningstar Farms and Tofurky. Consumer demand for plant-based meat is so powerful that this trend has even attracted investments from traditional meat companies, including Cargill, Hormel Foods Corp., JBS, Tyson Foods Inc. and WH Group.17 Linnane, Ciara. Beyond Meat goes public with a bang: 5 things to know about the plant-based meat maker. MarketWatch. May 6, 2019.

Plant-based meat goes global and gets competitive
Consumption of plant-based meat is now a major international trend affecting business strategies within the grocery sector. In Canada, the newly revamped Canada Food Guide now emphasizes eating plant-based proteins like legumes, beans, and tofu more often than those from animal meat, which is boosting sales of plant-based meats.18 Young, Leslie. Canada’s new food guide emphasizes eating plants, drinking water and cooking at home. Global News. January 22, 2019. Meanwhile, UK grocery giant Tesco now prominently displays vegan and vegetarian foods, including plant-based meats, in the meat aisle to give consumers food options that ‘promote health and sustainability.'19 Chiorando, Maria. Tesco To Sell Vegan Foods In Meat Aisle – To ‘Promote Sustainability.’ Plant Based News. April 5, 2019.

Given plant-based meats’ threat as a substitute for meat derived from animals, the livestock sector is fighting back. Missouri, Nebraska, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming are among the states that have started to take action to regulate the use of the term “meat” on product labels for items that are not derived from animals.20 Charlebois, Sylvain. Vegan cheese and fake meat: A recipe for food appropriation? The Globe and Mail. February 15, 2019.

In contrast to animal meat, Beyond Meat burgers’ ingredients include pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, and coconut oil. The Garden Gourmet Incredible Burger contains soy and wheat protein, beets, carrots, and bell peppers to replicate the texture and taste of a traditional hamburger.21 Taylor, Kate. It requires 22 ingredients for the Beyond Burger to replicate the taste and texture of a classic hamburger — here’s what they are. Business Insider. May 3, 2019. 22 Schaltegger, Megan. A Plant-Based Burger Is FINALLY Coming To McDonalds. Delish.com. May 13, 2019.

Profiting from plants
This summer, global retail companies will see lots of sizzle in the plant-based meat market. The explosive growth of this segment is driven by consumer demand for product variety and quality that align with consumers’ values, including the booming health and wellness lifestyle. In response, grocery retailers and brands are delivering new product innovations to stay relevant and competitive, and improve their top line performance by adapting to consumers’ evolving tastes.

   [ + ]

1. citation stuff
2. Bushnell, Caroline. Plant-Based Makes Kroger’s Top Five Food Trends for 2019. GFI.org. October 30, 2018.
3. Evans, Pete. Plant-based eating goes mainstream as Beyond Meat targets Canadian grocery shelves. CBC News. April 27, 2019.
4. Ryan, Tom. Where’s the (alt) beef? RetailWire. April 29, 2019.
5. Johnson, Patty. What Consumers Really Think About Meat Alternatives. Mintel Blog. October 1, 2018.
6, 20. Charlebois, Sylvain. Vegan cheese and fake meat: A recipe for food appropriation? The Globe and Mail. February 15, 2019.
7. Parker, John. The year of the vegan. The Economist. December 5, 2018.
8. Gervis, Zoya. One third of Americans consider themselves ‘flexitarian.’ New York Post. October 26, 2018.
9. Johnson, Patty. What Consumers Really Think About Meat Alternatives. Mintel Blog. October 1, 2018.
10. Lucas, Amelia. Beyond Meat shares hit all-time high after Tim Hortons adds its sausage to menu. CNBC. May 15, 2019.
11, 22. Schaltegger, Megan. A Plant-Based Burger Is FINALLY Coming To McDonalds. Delish.com. May 13, 2019.
12. Pointing, Charlotte. Whole Foods Just Dedicated an Entire Freezer to Beyond’s Vegan Meat. Live Kindly. May 8, 2019.
13. Axworthy, Nicole. Kroger Introduces Vegan Bleeding Burger to 2,000 US Locations. VegNews. April 17, 2019.
14. Ibid.
15. Vegan meat brands that are changing everything. PETA. 2019.
16. Nestle goes vegan with meat-free burger range. CNBC. April 2, 2019.
17. Linnane, Ciara. Beyond Meat goes public with a bang: 5 things to know about the plant-based meat maker. MarketWatch. May 6, 2019.
18. Young, Leslie. Canada’s new food guide emphasizes eating plants, drinking water and cooking at home. Global News. January 22, 2019.
19. Chiorando, Maria. Tesco To Sell Vegan Foods In Meat Aisle – To ‘Promote Sustainability.’ Plant Based News. April 5, 2019.
21. Taylor, Kate. It requires 22 ingredients for the Beyond Burger to replicate the taste and texture of a classic hamburger — here’s what they are. Business Insider. May 3, 2019.
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I recently read an interview with Dan Michael, who was the director of R&D at Mars—you know, Mars of Snickers and M&M candy fame. In the interview, Michaels comments that during his tenure at Mars, they weren’t really focused on creating new candy, but rather on creating new flavors—essentially, brand extensions.

“Our main focus is less bringing a new candy into the market, but creating news and interest around the ones we have,” Michael says in the interview. “You’ve probably seen that we release new M&M flavors. Sometimes we put it up to a consumer vote. That’s what we do more than coming up with a brand-new candy bar.”

And being that M&Ms, for example, is probably one of the most recognized candies on the planet, the strategy is a sound one.

But still. I take issue with this, as well as a few other things he says in the article. Three issues, to be exact.

Issue 1: Michael notes later in the article that the failure rate of new products can range anywhere from 70 to 80 percent. It’s one of the reasons they don’t often try to reinvent the candy-wheel, and why the aforementioned brand extensions work well. It’s a significant percentage, let’s be real.

But it also leaves room for success.

It’s in that 20 percent margin that new products can shine, particularly when you have a staid category like candy bars, where there is little movement. (Michael notes that the top 10 candy bars rarely change.) I’m not telling confectioners with new products not to shoot for the stars, but if your goal is not to be a top 10 candy bar, but instead be a really good, high quality candy bar, there’s certainly room for you on the shelf. Don’t let a high failure rate deter you from trying to get your candy into the hands of consumers.

Issue 2: Michael gives an anecdote of building a factory to produce Snickers in Russia in the 1990s, and the goal was to create a Snickers exactly like the one in the US. “We feel strongly that our brands as they are have a lot of legs no matter where they are,” he states. “It’s one recipe; you don’t have to redevelop stuff.”

I’ll agree that that is a solid point.

But if you don’t at least review what you have, you lose out on an opportunity for a potential new discovery.

No one is saying the recipe that makes Snickers so delightful should change. (Least of all me. A frozen Snickers bar—not the ice cream, but actually sticking the candy bar in the freezer—is one of my greatest joys). But what I, personally, am saying, is that it can’t hurt to tinker with it every once in awhile. Technologies expand, ingredients are developed—it’s entirely possible that a new Snickers (or whatever your candy of choice is) would play better than the original. Granted, the opposite is true as well. Or a third option could come into being—out of tinkering with one recipe, a recipe for a whole new product is discovered.

Issue 3: Michael notes in the interview that they created a space that would inspire new product development and foster new ideas.  

But what happened to my invitation?

I kid, I kid. Obviously, there’s not really anything I can take umbrage with—having a dedicated space to retreat to and brainstorm new ideas, play around with new recipes, and invite people in to taste test is what every CPG company should have. In fact, if you don’t have such a space in your own company, you should. It’s a sign that you’re committed not only to your product and brand, but also to your consumers—this creation space, after all, is all about developing those new products they want.

Developing new products is no easy job, but the excitement and satisfaction of creating a successful product is a glory all its own. Develop, redevelop, and never stop learning about your products—words to live by in the ever-changing world of CPG.

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Sometimes the best products are created from solving a simple everyday inconvenience. Michael Sweigart was tired of doing his family’s laundry, only to have it come out of the dryer still covered in pet hair. So he used his knowledge of silicone and experimented until he came upon a genius solution for removing fur from laundry: the FurZapper. Learn how this innovative pet and household product took advantage of RangeMe and ECRM Sessions to expand its visibility and connect with retail buyers.

Fur-mulation of the FurZapper

Sweigart, a work-from-home dad, was the designated laundry do-er in his family, and he noticed that the family pets–two dogs and a cat–left their presence on clothing even after it was washed and dried. Nothing on the market was efficient enough to get rid of the residual pet hair left on clothes, so he began experimenting with different ways to rid pet hair from the laundry. Sweigart had made a hobby of working with silicone, and he understood the textile’s properties and how it could possibly work in removing pet hair from clothes.

FurZapper has had a lot of success on e-commerce, but their first major deal for brick-and-mortar was made with Walmart. Chosen during Walmart’s Open Call Initiative, Sweigart and his business partner were invited to the retailer’s headquarters where they scored a deal with the laundry department. FurZapper can now be found in Walmart stores nationwide in the laundry section.

Sweigart tried different formulas, shapes, and sizes until he found the perfect combination to remove pet hair from clothes while tumbling around the washer and dryer without getting stuck to the machines or clothes. The result? The FurZapper, a hypoallergenic silicone device shaped like a hockey puck that plucks away pet hairs from clothes in the washer and dryer that is safe for humans, pets, and clothes alike.  

Paws-itive experience with RangeMe

Walmart was certainly a great start, but Sweigart and his team wanted to take FurZapper even further.

“We found out about RangeMe about a year and a half ago through a Google search on how to identify retailers in the pet market that we wanted to reach out to,” Sweigart says. He signed up as a free supplier and started seeing interest in his product which prompted him to upgrade to Premium and get RangeMe Verified.

“As a Free Supplier, you’re limited in terms of getting Verified and reaching out to multiple retailers and distributors,” Sweigart says. “As a Premium Supplier, you have more visibility which shows a commitment to buyers and shows them you’re ready to do business.”

One of the major perks Sweigart enjoys about RangeMe is the Profile Insights feature. “It was interesting to see how long people were spending on our profile and revisiting after a few days and sometimes multiple times,” he notes. “That gave us a good measure on how to gauge their interest. Sometimes it’s tough with the Internet and email to understand if people are genuinely interested in our product and if it’s worth investing time in them. The statistical tools help us understand if they’re genuinely interested.”

Better than trade shows

Sweigart continually searched for new ways to get his product in front of the right people to expand FurZapper’s reach. He wasn’t wowed by trade shows, as he found they lacked a connection with the right buyers for his product. Sweigart and his team heard that RangeMe parent company, ECRM, hosts Efficient Program Planning Sessions with buyers from specific product categories, they were intrigued to learn more. These Sessions are great opportunities for brands to meet individually with 40 plus buyers who are searching for products in a given category. When notified about ECRM’s Pet EPPS in Chicago and the benefits of attending these Sessions, they decided to attend and they’re glad they did as FurZapper walked away with the Buyers Choice Award.

“The right buyers are coming in during these Sessions and 95 percent of them are already a great match for your company,” Sweigart says. “Each meeting with buyers is focused on understanding the product and business which is refreshing compared to trade shows.”

What’s next?

Sweigart and his team had such a positive experience attending their first ECRM Session at the beginning of May, they signed up to attend the Houseware, Households, & General Merchandise EPPS in July of 2019.  

“If someone is looking to meet buyers in their product category, ECRM has brought in great people to look at these companies who weren’t there to waste anyone’s time,” Sweigart says. “They were just there for the business of discovering products.”

And while the company continues to meet and greet the right buyers for their product, FurZapper also has some exciting prospects in the works. Based on leads they received on RangeMe and at their first ECRM Session, the company has multiple initial orders in the works.

Not a ruff life at all.

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How do you engage with a brand these days? Is it through their website? Through in-person experiences?  For most people, their preferred engagement is through social media channels, the most popular of which is Instagram.

With the rise of businesses using Instagram to increase their appeal to a new audience, having  an Instagram Business account is a critical need. Originally used for friends and family to share stories through pictures, businesses soon caught on to the popularity of the social channel and began using it to promote their businesses and products. Fast forward to 2019, and Instagram has more than 1 billion users monthly, 25 million of which are business profiles. And it’s estimated that 600 million people use the platform to discover new products.

Or in some cases, engage with beloved, established brands, like Oreos. With more than 1.6 million users, the brand uses Instagram to invoke nostalgia for your favorite childhood cookie with recipes, photos, and more.

Consumers–particularly Millennial consumers, who make up the bulk of Instagram users–increasingly seek out companies that share their values, and Instagram serves as another connection point for brands to engage. Tito’s Vodka, for example, uses its Instagram account to connect with the pet lovers in their consumer base, and promote pets in need of homes–as well as their vodka, of course.

If you’re new to the Instagram game, or a veteran still trying to keep up with fast-changing trends, have no fear! Here are the top five best practices for optimizing your Instagram account:

  1. Create an Instagram Business account. First things first, you need to make sure your Instagram account is set to a business account. And bonus, it’s not hard to do.  (Within the app, find settings, then scroll down to “Switch to Business Account.” Once you have a business account, you can add in pertinent business information like store hours, your business address or a phone number.)1 https://business.instagram.com/getting-started With a Business account you can get real-time metrics on how your stories and promoted posts perform throughout the day, insights into your followers and how they interact with your posts and stories, and more that will help you be more successful using Instagram for your business.
  2. Give your audience an experience. Instagram was created to give users a way to convey a message through visuals. So do just that! Meller, an international sunglasses brand, highlights the importance of effectively engaging with potential customers online using engaging visual content. It brought them a 13% increase of conversion rate just by integrating this shared experience into their e-commerce store.2 https://hi.photoslurp.com/blog/instagram-best-practices-content/ Think about your branding and the messages you convey on any other social channels you use–everything should be cohesive.
  3. Use #hashtags. Branded hashtags improve your company’s discoverability while also helping consumers connect over shared interests and values.3 https://www.shortstack.com/blog/instagram-business-tips/ Creating hashtags for your company will help your audience find posts that circle back to your business. When using hashtags, try to use at least two or three that can appeal to a wider audience, because #visibility #discoverability and potential #newcustomers are what we want #right?
  4. Collaborate. Gone are the days where consumers  turn to Google to look up reviews about a certain brand or product. Today there are  influencers–people who get paid to review or sponsor brands or products. If you collaborate with an influencer, your brand is more likely to be discovered, and have the appeal needed to entice your audience.
  5. Use Software. Managing an  Instagram Business account will be a lot different than a personal account. The content and campaigns that you create will need to be strategically posted during your specific audiences peak use time. Using an automation software can help you schedule future posts, know the best times to post (like between 10 am and 3 pm, according to one source), and give insight into key analytics that you will want to track.

With these tips, you’ll be a business savvy Instagram user in no time. But one last thing you should do–add your Instagram Business account to your RangeMe profile! Suppliers aren’t the only ones using Instagram–retailers are as well. Retailers look to Instagram to discover the newest brands and trendiest products for their stores. By ensuring your Instagram account is on your RangeMe profile, you are leveraging  another channel to potentially connect and showcase your products to retailers.

   [ + ]

1. https://business.instagram.com/getting-started
2. https://hi.photoslurp.com/blog/instagram-best-practices-content/
3. https://www.shortstack.com/blog/instagram-business-tips/
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In my previous post I wrote about how retailers are figuring out how to attract Millennials and Gen Z. These two demographics are important not just because of the sheer number of people who fall into these two generations, but because the way they shop and consume is vastly different than generations before them. We looked at what makes them tick, and how they feel about retailers, and in turn, how retailers are feeling and responding to them. The upshot? These generations are the future of retail, and it’s up to retailers to start strategizing what that means for their success.

“Both of these groups have incredible buying influence and power now, and as they age this will increase,” says Courtney Albert, director of Innovation and Marketing for the Parker Avery Group. “They will continue to dictate the future of the industry. Though each group has different general shopping habits, both are pretty savvy and quick when it comes to who they want to spend their money with.”

Adapting to generational changes

Creating a shopping experience for Millennials and Gen Z is key, whether that’s pop-up stores, beefing up your online channels, or putting major effort behind your social media. But for those retailers who aren’t sure where to start when strategizing how to reach these consumers, I went back to the experts to get some of their advice.

I wanted to get their opinion on what first steps retailers can take to put them on a successful path. Neil Stern, senior partner at McMillan Doolittle, says it starts with understanding.

“Get to know them as individuals, and what they really need,” Stern says. “They are not just a generation—a Millennial in her late 30s living in the suburbs is very different than a 25-year-old living in the city.”

It’s kind of funny to talk about individualism when you’re looking at the big picture of these demographics, but it’s true. The members behind these two generations span a huge age range, and for a retailer to be successful, they’ve got to be conscious of the actual people they’re serving. Consider where they are in their lives, who they are, and what kind of person they are.

What’s more, says Albert, diversity within the retailer is important. “Diverse hiring practices make a huge impact,” she explains. “Having people in the room that are part of these generations as well as people who aren’t provide a great start to making these kinds of decisions.” She adds that observing how each group interacts with the retailer’s brand is a good starting point for attracting Millennial and Gen Z consumers. Paying attention to the feedback they’re providing on brand and customer experiences is also key.

The time is now for retailers to develop a strong strategy to attract Millennials and Gen Z. These two generations are powerful in number and they know what they want—and they’re not afraid to speak up. And if they’re not getting what they want from one retailer, they’re also not afraid to spend their dollars at the retailers that will deliver (and I don’t mean groceries to their doorstep).

How are you seeing retailers attract Millennials and Gen Z consumers?

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Consumers have had enough. They’re outraged about the massive volume of plastic waste from retail products, which harms oceans and landfills – and this public backlash is affecting  retailers and consumer goods brands.

Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year, and the average U.S. family takes home almost 1,500 plastic shopping bags annually. And each bag takes at least 500 years to degrade in a landfill.1 The Problem With Plastic Bags. The Center for Biological Diversity. 2019. Also, Greenpeace reports 12 million tons of plastic enter our oceans annually.2 Wyler, Rex. The Ocean Plastic Crisis. Greenpeace. October 15, 2017.

In response, global activist groups have initiated “plastic attacks,” in which they pay for products then leave the packaging behind at retail stores to force retailers to deal with the waste.3 Ryan, Carol. Plastic Is Big Food’s Next Headache. The Wall Street Journal. December 28, 2018. Consumers are also speaking out against the unsustainable business practice of shipping plastic waste recyclables to less developed countries where they can be illegally dumped or burned.4 Common, David. Plastic Waste: The Supermarket Challenge. CBC News. January 11, 2019.


“2019 will be a tipping point”
~ Wall Street Journal
5 Ryan, Carol. Plastic Is Big Food’s Next Headache. The Wall Street Journal. December 28, 2018.

Governments and international bodies are also taking action. In March, 170 countries, including the U.S., pledged to “significantly reduce” the use of plastics by 2030. This month, the UN issued a new report proving that nature everywhere is declining at a speed never previously seen.6 McGrath, Matt. Nature crisis: Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction.’ BBC News. May 6, 2019.

The urgent environmental imperative to reduce plastic creates new opportunities for retailers and brands to develop innovative, eco-friendly products and sustainable business strategies.7 Kelkoo Group. Top five consumer trends set to shape retail in 2019. Retail Week. January 29, 2019

Reducing plastic can be profitable
Consumers today actively choose companies that share their values, such as sustainability, and retailers and brands are taking the desire to use less plastic seriously. One-third of U.S. consumers support a tax on all plastic food packaging, and 38% would be more likely to frequent supermarkets that offer fruit and vegetables without plastic packaging.8 Seigner, Cathy. Survey: One-third of US consumers favor a tax on plastic food packaging. Grocery Dive. August 23, 2018. Millennials and Gen Z are most likely to reward companies with strong sustainability programs.9 Fleming, Molly. Plastic waste: Why brands need to look beyond the PR opportunity. Marketing Week. February 6, 2018.

Reducing plastic has evolved into a business necessity. Investors now ask manufacturers to measure and report how much plastic packaging they produce each year, and how they plan to reduce that amount to support corporate social responsibility initiatives. As alternatives to plastic packaging, retail companies are turning to sustainable alternatives, including cardboard, paper, aluminum, glass, bioplastics and even edible plastics. Major brands acknowledge the need to shift away from plastic to packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable; however, choosing these alternative materials will increase manufacturers’ costs.10 Peters, Adele. A coalition of giant brands is about to change how we shop forever, with a new zero-waste platform. Fast Company. January 26, 2019.


62% of consumers like companies that believe in reducing plastics and improving the environment
~ Accenture Strategy
11 Shayton, Sheila. The Rise of Purpose-Led Brands: Q&A With Accenture Strategy’s Bill Theofilou. Brand Channel. December 5, 2018.

Plastic reduction is also a health and wellness issue, especially in the grocery channel. Last year, the American Journal of Pediatrics warned that certain chemicals in plastic food containers can leach into food and beverage products, and interfere with children’s hormones, harming their long-term growth and development.12 Rabin, Roni Caryn. Chemicals in Food May Harm Children, Pediatricians’ Group Says. The New York Times. July 23, 2018.

Leaders in lowering plastic usage
Here are some recent examples of what major consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands and retailers are doing to reduce plastic waste:

  • Walmart: The retail giant’s plastic waste reduction efforts include working with private label partners to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging for private brands, and 20% post-consumer recycled content in private brand packaging by 2025. The company is also decreasing private brand plastic packaging.13 Vembar, Kaarin. Walmart unveils plan to reduce plastic packaging waste. Retail Dive. February 27, 2019.

  • Amazon: To make recycling easier in America, the e-commerce leader invested $10 million in the Closed Loop Fund, which finances the creation of recycling infrastructure and services in U.S. cities. Amazon states its investment will keep 1 million tons of recyclable material out of landfills.14 Shu, Catherine. Amazon puts $10M in Closed Loop Fund to make recycling easier in more American cities. TechCrunch. October 16, 2018.

  • Trader Joe’s: To eliminate 1 million pounds of plastic from its stores, the grocer announced it will  no longer offer single-use plastic bags to customers, will replace plastic produce bags and Styrofoam packages with compostable alternatives, and avoid using compounds like BPA in packaging. The company is also reducing how much produce it sells in plastic packaging.

  • Kroger: The grocer is phasing out single-use plastic bags completely by 2025 across its chains to reduce plastic waste.15 Kennedy, Merritt. Attention, Shoppers: Kroger Says It Is Phasing Out Plastic Bags. NPR. August 23, 2018.

  • IKEA: The furniture retailer will phase out all single-use plastic products from its stores and restaurants by August 2020. IKEA will phase out plastic straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, bin bags, and plastic-coated paper plates and cups, and replace them with alternative materials.16 Butler, Sarah. Ikea commits to phase out single-use plastic products by 2020. The Guardian. June 7, 2018.

  • Starbucks: Since an estimated 4.4 billion straws are thrown away each year around the world, Starbucks took a leadership role in the retail industry, vowing to ban plastic straws from its 28,000 global locations by 2020—eliminating 1 billion plastic straws.17 St. Louis, Molly. 5 Brands That Actually Did Some Good in 2018. Adweek. December 19, 2018.

  • Procter & Gamble: The company’s Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle is made entirely from post-consumer recycled plastic and ocean plastic.18 Goldsberry, Clare. Procter & Gamble launches Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle made with 100% recycled plastic. Plastics Today. October 11, 2017.

  • Evian: Announced it is adopting a 100% circular approach to plastic use by 2025 to keep plastic in the economy and out of nature through recycling. (Currently Evian bottles are made from an average of 25% recycled plastic.19 Fleming, Molly. Evian issues call-to-arms to brands to do more on plastic waste. Marketing Week. January 18, 2018. )

  • Nestlé, Unilever and Coca-Cola all committed to making their packaging 100% recyclable by 2025.20 Ryan, Carol. Plastic Is Big Food’s Next Headache. The Wall Street Journal. December 28, 2018.

To reduce single-use plastic packaging waste, a coalition of CPG leaders created a zero waste platform called Loop to offer reusable containers for products like toothpaste and ice cream.21 Peters, Adele. A coalition of giant brands is about to change how we shop forever, with a new zero-waste platform. Fast Company. January 26, 2019. Founding partners Procter & Gamble and Nestlé have joined PepsiCo, Unilever, Mars Petcare, The Clorox Company, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola European Partners, Mondelēz International and Danone as the initial partners involved with Loop.22 Rosengren, Cole. CPG giants partner on reusable packaging. Retail Dive. January 24, 2019.

Reducing plastic in retail is a global trend. UK grocer Iceland announced plans to eliminate plastic packaging in its private label products by 2023. Competitor Tesco informed suppliers it wants to stop using non-recyclable plastic packaging and Waitrose is phasing out black plastic trays, which are hard to recycle.23 Butler, Sarah. Ikea commits to phase out single-use plastic products by 2020. The Guardian. June 7, 2018.

As the anti-plastic movement builds momentum, retailers and suppliers need to work together to develop sustainable packaging alternatives that protect people and the planet. At a minimum, retail companies need a clear action plan to reduce their use of plastics. Progressive companies that successfully reduce their plastic waste can gain a competitive edge and earn consumer loyalty by showing consumers they’re listening and adapting to their demands for less plastic.


   [ + ]

1. The Problem With Plastic Bags. The Center for Biological Diversity. 2019.
2. Wyler, Rex. The Ocean Plastic Crisis. Greenpeace. October 15, 2017.
3, 5, 20. Ryan, Carol. Plastic Is Big Food’s Next Headache. The Wall Street Journal. December 28, 2018.
4. Common, David. Plastic Waste: The Supermarket Challenge. CBC News. January 11, 2019.
6. McGrath, Matt. Nature crisis: Humans ‘threaten 1m species with extinction.’ BBC News. May 6, 2019.
7. Kelkoo Group. Top five consumer trends set to shape retail in 2019. Retail Week. January 29, 2019
8. Seigner, Cathy. Survey: One-third of US consumers favor a tax on plastic food packaging. Grocery Dive. August 23, 2018.
9. Fleming, Molly. Plastic waste: Why brands need to look beyond the PR opportunity. Marketing Week. February 6, 2018.
10, 21. Peters, Adele. A coalition of giant brands is about to change how we shop forever, with a new zero-waste platform. Fast Company. January 26, 2019.
11. Shayton, Sheila. The Rise of Purpose-Led Brands: Q&A With Accenture Strategy’s Bill Theofilou. Brand Channel. December 5, 2018.
12. Rabin, Roni Caryn. Chemicals in Food May Harm Children, Pediatricians’ Group Says. The New York Times. July 23, 2018.
13. Vembar, Kaarin. Walmart unveils plan to reduce plastic packaging waste. Retail Dive. February 27, 2019.
14. Shu, Catherine. Amazon puts $10M in Closed Loop Fund to make recycling easier in more American cities. TechCrunch. October 16, 2018.
15. Kennedy, Merritt. Attention, Shoppers: Kroger Says It Is Phasing Out Plastic Bags. NPR. August 23, 2018.
16, 23. Butler, Sarah. Ikea commits to phase out single-use plastic products by 2020. The Guardian. June 7, 2018.
17. St. Louis, Molly. 5 Brands That Actually Did Some Good in 2018. Adweek. December 19, 2018.
18. Goldsberry, Clare. Procter & Gamble launches Fairy Ocean Plastic bottle made with 100% recycled plastic. Plastics Today. October 11, 2017.
19. Fleming, Molly. Evian issues call-to-arms to brands to do more on plastic waste. Marketing Week. January 18, 2018.
22. Rosengren, Cole. CPG giants partner on reusable packaging. Retail Dive. January 24, 2019.
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Peanut butter and jelly. Pen and paper. RangeMe Services and Suppliers. Some things are meant to work together. There are many steps to bring a product to market, and it can be daunting for a supplier to figure out how and what is needed to get their product into retail stores. Business and product insurance are one of those needs.

It’s common for suppliers to not know where to begin when it comes to choosing the right insurance provider– let alone any business service provider– and that’s why we launched RangeMe Services. RangeMe partners with the best experts in CPG insurance to help suppliers complete all the necessary steps to get retail ready. Read on to learn firsthand how a supplier, Mahina Cup, connected with insurance provider Bunker on RangeMe Services.

Insurance on the mind

During her time backpacking through India, Mahina Cup founder Alila Grace became starkly aware of the limited access women had to proper menstrual products and how the menstrual products they did have were polluting the country.

As a frequent backpacker, Grace chose to use a menstrual cup because it was easy, sustainable, safe, and a single cup lasted 10 years. The idea for the Mahina Cup was born and Grace worked closely with local Indian women to make bags for the menstrual cups which she sold to other tourists. She also took the time to educate women about their health along the way. Her business moved forward at a casual pace until she put her roots down in Hawaii where she went full steam ahead to bring her product to retail.

The business grew steadily through local sales in Hawaii–until Grace learned about RangeMe, and discovered how it could help boost her business to the next level. She signed up immediately and hasn’t looked back.

“RangeMe has allowed our brand to connect with retailers who are excited to carry something that is local, eco-friendly, and mission-based,” Grace says.

Mahina Cup’s growth expanded quickly, and RangeMe has provided assistance through the process. As a smaller brand, Grace found it nerve-wracking to work with larger service companies. She wanted advice and answers when she had big questions and decisions looming, like who to turn to for insurance, but she wasn’t getting the responses she needed–until RangeMe Services came into play.  

Move over Google Search

In order to get her brand RangeMe Verified, which would show bigger retailers her brand was retail ready, Grace knew Mahina Cup needed insurance. So she began her search for the right insurance provider on RangeMe Services.

“The reason I used RangeMe Services was that it was easy and right there. I didn’t have to do a Google search and research on my own, I just did a RangeMe search,” Grace explains. “I trust RangeMe and know that they are pulling in the best of the best for their suppliers.”

After reaching out to several insurance providers, Grace decided to go with an online insurance broker, Bunker, for multiple reasons. Of the different insurance groups she spoke to, she knew  Bunker was a good fit from the start, as the company specializes in small businesses and helps suppliers with the coverage they need for their next retail contract.

“Once I decided to go with Bunker, they were awesome. They facilitated a connection with a national insurance company and they were always available and responsive.  It’s the personal connection that makes the difference,” Grace says. “I like to feel like if I have questions about insurance, I know where to go now, instead of being sent to a 20-page FAQ.”

“Insurance is an important part of every business relationship, but it can be confusing and intimidating for small businesses to navigate on their own,” said Bunker CEO and Co-Founder, Chad Nitschke. “We try to make the insurance process as comfortable as possible so that people like Alila Grace can focus on building a business that will change the world, and know that we’ll keep it protected.”

With the search for an insurance company behind her, Grace is confident in making the needed decisions to move her company forward, and continue its growth. She’s even utilized RangeMe Services to find a shipping provider to get Mahina Cup where it needs to go. While this process can be intimidating for suppliers, knowing she has the right support systems in place allows Grace the peace of mind to focus on making Mahina Cup the best it can be.  

RangeMe Services is here to help our suppliers reach their goals of getting ready for retail. Explore Bunker and other Service Providers on RangeMe Services here.

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