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Patterns Issue 1 2017 - From Timeless to Trailblazing: 6 Marketing Strategies

Sometimes you win by perfecting a marketing practice that has stood the test of time. Sometimes you win by blazing a new path. Proven strategies and innovative ideas meet in this issue of Patterns, with articles that include:

  • Beyond Best Practices: How to Win in a Dynamic Market
  • 5 Insights Into Multiculturalism and Talent Management
  • Retail Is the Ultimate Social Platform
  • The Future Belongs to Millennials: How Well Do You Know Them? 4 Key Trends That Define How Millennials Interact With Brands
  • 4 Insights You Can Unlock by Mapping the Customer Journey
  • 4 Approaches to Creative Leadership in CPG Companies

Know where you are. Know where you’re going. Here’s your GPS.

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The FDA Nutrition Label Update is Your Opportunity to Gain a Competitive Brand Advantage

For more than two decades, the FDA Nutrition Label has been an icon of informed choice for shoppers. Now, the label has been updated to reflect the latest nutrition science and more realistic serving sizes.

CPG brands must comply with the new requirements by July 26, 2018. Are you ready? Even more important, do you regard the label update as a burden or an opportunity?

Get the latest issue of Patterns and get seven tips for streamlining compliance while also claiming a competitive brand advantage on the shelf. For this and six more articles from SGK’s global marketing experts, read Strategies for Growth: Making Change Work to Your Brand’s Advantage. Download the full Patterns report now.

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Patterns Issue 2 2016 - Strategies for Growth: Making Change Work to Your Brand's Advantage

Iconic brands seem timeless and immutable. But in reality, change is constant, and brands need to continuously adapt. This issue of Patterns offers seven perspectives on constructive change, including:

  • Ask Yourself If It’s Right for You: Empowering Health and Wellness Consumers
  • Projecting the Future of Retail: A New Way to Engage Consumers in the Aisle
  • RGB Printing Brings Spectacular Visual Possibilities to Packaging
  • Latin America Is Ripe for Smart, Integrated Digital Marketing
  • The FDA Nutrition Label Update Is Your Opportunity to Gain a Competitive Brand Advantage
  • Building Graphics Workflows Across Emerging Markets
  • Chief Growth Officer: The SGK Perspective on a Critical Development

Embrace change. That’s where you’ll discover opportunity.

Download the new Patterns report now.

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Men's Beauty Goes Big in Asia

What do men see when they look in the mirror? Think of your brand as that mirror. It can reflect basic hygiene and grooming to meet social norms, or it can reveal expressive possibilities for a highly personal style.

Asian markets lead the world in embracing men’s beauty. And while most Western men aren’t quite ready for foundation and lipstick, they’re increasingly looking to flaunt their own individuality.

In our new issue of Patterns, we hold a mirror up to the East and visualize new opportunities for helping every man look his best. Going big with men’s beauty could be the future of your brand.

For this and four more articles from SGK’s global marketing experts, read Making Connections: Brand Insights from Around the World. Download the new Patterns report now.

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The New Luxury Codes: Four Ways Venerable Brands are Reinventing their Allure

Luxury brands have the “luxury” of repeating time-tested messages of quality and opulence for buyers who already respect their cachet – right?

Wrong. Today’s most successful luxury brands aren’t just selling beautiful objects. They’re immersing shoppers in acclaimed stories and unexpected experiences. Revealing the inspiration and methods behind their fine craftsmanship. Speaking up for principled values.

In our latest Patterns report, we offer several examples of these new luxury codes. You’ll find ideas to inspire any brand – from haute couture to fast fashion. For this and four more articles from SGK’s global marketing experts, read Making Connections: Brand Insights from Around the World. Download the new Patterns report now.

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Brand Love: Creating Millennial Brand Engagement

Posted By: SGK January 11, 2016

Most brand owners realize the incredible purchasing power of the Millennial generation.  But developing a successful brand strategy that reaches this demographic can be tricky: affluent, non-homogenous, and always connected to peer networks via technology, they don’t necessarily respond to traditional forms of brand marketing.  In his BrandSquare Live Session, Creating Millennial Brand Engagement, Jeff Fromm, president of FutureCast, provides some insights into how brand owners can successfully engage the largest and most influential generation of consumers ever.

According to Jeff, the key to engaging Millennials is by creating “brand love.”  The abundant choices available to consumers means that brands must prevent boredom and create love to build consumer loyalty.  To create this brand love amongst Millennials requires uniqueness, purpose, meaning, and innovation. And achieving these qualities requires a deep understanding of what he refers to as the Millennial Mindset.

The Millennial Mindset is more than just a demographic; successful brands need to understand the keys to engaging this generation in a meaningful way in order to increase brand love.  The mindset can be broken into five key understandings:

1.    Purpose: Driven by meaning and idealism, tapping into a key pain point or ideal helps create purpose for your brand.
2.    Experience: Millennials are willing to pay a premium to collect meaningful and remarkable experiences that are connected to the sharing and co-creation they seek.
3.    Discovery: Millennials seek to embrace a new consumer journey.
4.    Community: Millennials seek participation and community both in the physical and digital worlds. 
5.    Innovation:  Millennials expect innovation in all products and seek usefulness for their daily lives. 

To embrace the qualities of this mindset, brands need to live up to certain brand truths that speak to the values and desires of Millennials.   Brands that stand for more than just the bottom line, making the brand behavior part of its positioning, will speak to Millennials’ desire for purpose.  And instead of brands embracing storytelling, they should embrace “storyliving” as proof that their behavior matches the values and idealism of the Millennial Mindset.  Storyliving also helps to collect the experiential currency that feeds Millennials’ desire for experience and discovery.  Finally, since the path to purchase is no longer linear but more circular, brands must achieve a frictionless journey that seamlessly integrates the physical and digital worlds, thereby building a broader, more diverse community.

For more insights on how your brand can engage Millennials effectively, be sure to watch Jeff Fromm’s BrandSquare recording on Youtube, Creating Millennial Brand Engagement.

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Using Venn Diagrams To Drive Brand Innovation

Posted By: SGK December 18, 2015

Back in grade school, we all learned about Venn diagrams. Those intersecting circles visually demonstrate which portions of multiple sets are shared and which are not. “I never quite knew when in my future life I would find them useful, if at all, but [many, many] years later I think I’ve finally got it: Venn diagrams are incredibly helpful tools for brand marketers to create and evaluate truly meaningful innovation that drives market performance,” says Bruce Levinson, VP of Client Engagement at SGK. “Or at least, that’s one way to use them.”

By innovation, Levinson refers chiefly to new products or services aimed at growing a brand.  Marketers know that for new products to succeed they must satisfy a consumer need, ideally an unmet and important consumer need. In reality, innovation must also achieve numerous other hurdles like internal financial targets, external retailer requirements and various social, environmental and regulatory constraints. Plus, critically, it must be a coherent fit with the brand positioning.

Typically the innovation funnel is filled with more concepts than a company has capacity to launch, so filters are applied (and testing done) to winnow down the field. Venn diagrams can be applied here. A company may also be looking to create new product concepts and Venn diagrams work just as well in doing that. 

Here is how it works: create a circle for each of the key drivers of your category, making sure to consider not just brand and consumer drivers, but also retail and corporate realities. Now partially overlap the various circles looking for synergies in the common areas: do your concepts satisfy multiple drivers? The strongest ideas typically do.

Let’s illustrate with some category examples: concentrated household cleaners deliver the consumer benefit of convenience, plus the joint financial and environmental benefits of smaller packaging and a more efficient retail shelf. That’s a ton of overlapping category drivers – lots of shared space in our Venn diagram. Greek yogurt is another good example, delivering on the protein craze, snacking culture, taste and a revenue trade-up opportunity for both brand and retailer.

The Venn diagram shown here demonstrates how a dairy company might evaluate an investment in Greek yogurt. You’ll see the three key drivers selected are: high protein; snacking; and financial attractiveness. Greek yogurt is the one product they make that satisfies all three drivers: Kids yogurt delivers on Snacking and Financial Attractiveness, but not High Protein; String Cheese satisfies Snacking and High Protein, but not Financial Attractiveness and so on.

Your own approach may be much more involved, with more drivers and more diagrams. The trick is to specifically identify the most meaningful drivers as they emerge (e.g., the protein craze) rather than something as broad as “healthy eating.”  Doing this pre-work well takes time to uncover the most promising insights. But a keen understanding of your brand, category, competitive and retail environments – plus a throwback to grade school math – can go a long way to driving your brand performance.

About Bruce Levinson
Bruce Levinson is Vice President, Client Engagement at SGK, a leading global brand development, activation and deployment provider that drives brand performance. Bruce is a passionate architect of brand strategy and is highly experienced in translating consumer insights and client needs. His experience helps clients meet market and regulatory demands while driving brand initiatives domestically and internationally. His previous positions include director-level marketing roles at Unilever in the US and UK, and as an advertising account executive.


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The Power of the Packaging Restage

Posted By: SGK December 02, 2015

CPG companies have it tough these days.  While they have been wrestling with brand shifting, changing demographics, new media and technology, mining terabytes of big data, and navigating an emerging retail scene, a new challenge has formed.  That is the specter of being acquired by a competitor or by private equity.  The near-zero Federal Funds Rate not only enables companies to invest in their own growth, it also makes it much easier for companies to buy scale through acquisition.  Surely this is a huge boon for some.  But many CPGs prefer to go it alone rather than see their brands taken over and possibly sold off for parts. To remain independent enterprises, CPGs must perform in the short term, getting the most value possible out of their brands, but in a way that is sustainable and fits with the equity.

This dynamic is bringing new relevance and urgency to the brand packaging restage.  As the majority of the largest CPG brands have lost market share in the past year, there is a critical need for a fresh approach.  Sometimes considered a “half measure”, the brand restage hasn’t always been thought of with the same degree of seriousness or appeal as, say, launching an all-new brand or product.  But change is in the air because breakthrough brand packaging design offers CPGs an attractive mix of benefits today if done in a thoughtful way. 

Refreshed packaging doesn’t rely on inventing a magic molecule or investing in any other product formulation change.  The packaging itself brings “news” to the shelf without necessarily incurring slotting fees or negotiating incremental space at retail.  Brand packaging is an “always on” communication channel to reinforce positioning or launch a new claim; consumer permission is not needed to show it.  Perhaps the single most critical opportunity with packaging, however, is to bring a meaningful new reason to select your brand and to select it over and over again.

Functional or structural packaging innovation can drive ease of use, facilitate new usage occasions, support sustainability, and bring efficiencies to the supply chain (including yours and that of your retail customers.)  Taking the time to develop a thoughtful, comprehensive creative brief is key.  Work with your agencies to consider the role of packaging in your consumers’ life, from quickly identifying the brand to selecting it on the physical or virtual shelf, to how they use and ultimately discard the packaging.  Work across categories to find inspiration in, say, specialty food while working on personal care products.  Taking this example further, you must also consider if the transparency trend in food packaging should translate to other categories or is even relevant to your brand’s equity.

In doing so, brands may find new routes to brand relevance that aren’t long-shot new product innovations (most of which fail, remember), but are thoughtful, tangible packaging and design solutions that can be achieved in much less time.  Restaging the brand portfolio can also serve as a signal to the outside world, demonstrating that even the stodgiest of brands is being cared for, managed actively not passively, no matter if you are trying to attract or repel potential M&A suitors.

About Bruce Levinson
Bruce Levinson is Vice President, Client Engagement at SGK, a leading global brand development, activation and deployment provider that drives brand performance. Bruce is a passionate architect of brand strategy and is highly experienced in translating consumer insights and client needs. His experience helps clients meet market and regulatory demands while driving brand initiatives domestically and internationally. His previous positions include director-level marketing roles at Unilever in the US and UK, and as an advertising account executive.

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Reimagining Value: How Standout Brands Create New Choices

Posted By: SGK August 19, 2015
Reimagining Value: How Standout Brands Create New Choices

Consumer values aren’t static. They’re not constrained or predicable either. Consumer values evolve, intersect and recombine in ways that continually open new opportunities for agile brands. The key is to discover the combination of values that are not being served in the current marketplace and to fill that niche. 

Take yogurt, one of the fastest growing categories. Successful products in the yogurt category have redefined value by meeting a collision of consumer needs with new product mashups – creating healthy, guilt-free indulgences; acceptable mid-morning and afternoon mini-meals; new options for spreading one’s protein intake throughout the day; and more.

As the yogurt category becomes more competitive, marketers are finding new ways to define value that will make a new brand stand out. Consider these examples:

Dannon Oikos Triple Zero offers the higher protein content of Greek yogurt in a variety of fruit, coconut and vanilla flavors. The packaging prominently displays that each 5.3 ounce cup contains 15 grams of proteins, plus three big zeros: 0 added sugar, 0 artificial sweeteners and 0 fat. Most yogurt products have been marketed to women, leaving a wide-open opportunity for a “brogurt” to capture the market for fitness-minded men. While it’s not the first “manly: yogurt, Oikos Triple Zero looks to be the most successful as the official yogurt of the NFL, endorsed by Carolina Panthers’ star quarterback, Cam Newton. Its clean label support the tagline, “Possibly the Perfect Protein Snack.” 

Lifeway Protein Kefir targets consumers who love yogurt but are looking for a variety and additional health benefits. Kefir has been called the “Eastern European yogurt,” and this version offers a distinctively tart and tangy flavor with the drinkable consistency of a smoothie. A 16-ounce bottle provides two servings, each with 20 grams of protein, 160 calories and no fat. Targeted to fitness buffs and athletes, it’s easy to carry along and consume after a workout. Lifeway claims that carbohydrates in the kefir increase protein absorption, while the 12 probiotics naturally enhance digestive and immune system health. It’s a smartly differentiated response to today’s consumer focus on exercise and nutrition. 

Stonyfield Farm’s Brown Cow yogurt illustrates how depth marketing can be used to reach a particular kind of shopper in a particular environment. The Brown Cow brand began years ago as an indulgent, full-fat “cream top” yogurt with limited geographical availability. Today Brown Cow has fully embraced the healthy eating trend with a fat-free, GMO-free, clean-label yogurt sold exclusively by Whole Foods – the one retailer most shoppers regard as practically synonymous with organic foods. Think of it as a highly targeted private label version of an established premium brand. 

Publix Indulgent, as a store brand, is taking a different approach. Yogurt is one of the very few categories where private labels have struggled to keep up with name brands. Publix is helping reverse that trend with an affordable whole-milk and cream yogurt “disguised as dessert” in 10 different flavors. No good/better/best price-tiering here. 

The main takeaway is that standout new products are redefining value, making an impact on consumer regimens and behaviors. Their laser-like focus makes these standouts highly successful at delivering relevant value for very niched segments.

And that’s looking at only one CPG category. For more inspiration on how to jumpstart your own trend-setting brand innovations download: Patterns Issue I 2015: Innovation Everywhere.

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Innovation Everywhere: Improving Brand Performance from Concept to Consumer

Posted By: SGK May 18, 2015

Great brands change lives. To do that, they have to change experiences and behaviors. In the newest issue of our Patterns white paper, we bring you fresh perspectives on how to captivate consumers, satisfy their practical needs and build their trust.

In this issue, you’ll also be introduced to thought leaders at Saueressig and IDL Worldwide – two new brands in the SGK Division, now part of Matthews International. We think you'll enjoy the unique views they offer for meeting today's emerging marketplace challenges to deliver improved brand performance. Here’s what you’ll find:

Navigating the way to structural packaging innovation
While you may have sound financial and logistical reasons for redesigning your package, you need to give consumers good reasons to embrace it. You also need to give manufacturers good reasons to produce it. You’ve built a lot of brand equity into your current packaging and this article will show you how to avoid risks and foster even greater loyalty with your new package design.

Keeping it real: The package is your front-line defense against counterfeiting
Brand counterfeiters are using information technologies and tools to create counterfeit products that are sold into markets around the world as the real thing. Counterfeit products can seriously undermine your brand’s performance and reputation. But there are ways to beat the counterfeiters at their own game. That means using product authentication technologies that are far beyond their reach.

Digital brands going brick-and-mortar (Things get real, real fast)
The omnichannel buzz is all about broadcasting your brand across digital, mobile and traditional marketing channels in a consistent and compelling way. But what about your brand’s physical presence? Historically, brand inspiration has flowed from the physical to the digital. We examine the reverse flow – how brands that have been built in a digital world are taking their message to physical locations.

Reimagining value: How standout brands create new choices 
Consumer values aren’t static or predictable. Consumer values evolve, intersect and recombine in ways that continually open new opportunities for agile brands. The key is to discover a confluence of values that is not being served in the current marketplace, and to fill that niche. This article takes a look at how trendsetting brands are doing it – and the new go-to-market strategies they’re pursuing to leapfrog the competition.

Don’t just be consistent, be relevant
Your brand needs to be consistent across every channel – that goes without saying. What never gets said is this: Consistency alone doesn’t inspire action. True, the core of the brand experience needs to be instantly recognizable in every encounter. But each encounter should have unique relevance to each particular consumer, in each particular time and place. That’s how a brand becomes part of a lifestyle.

Learn more about how to manage risk and drive brand performance. Download Patterns now.