I’m sitting at a bar after day two of the 2019 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York, reflecting on the day and decompressing a bit. It’s at these times when the insights you glean from the experience are the freshest, so I thought I’d take a quick moment to comment on one of the most poignant realizations that I’m left with today: not everyone’s having a good show.

It’s so fun to see all of the up-and-coming food brands. There’s a buzz around the trendy ones that’s palpable when you pass by their crowded booths. Retailers are excited to find the next big thing; to bring their customers something fresh. Whether these brands are ultimately a flash in the proverbial pan or they ascend to sustained national success, today they’re the belles of the ball.

But not everyone is excited today…this is painfully apparent as you pass by some booths that clearly aren’t getting the same traffic.

If you’re one of these companies that leaves a show like this feeling less than optimistic, it could be time for a little introspection.

As a side note, let’s acknowledge that while there are a lot of small brands at a show like this, these are companies that have largely experienced some level of success. Exhibiting at a large show is costly, and most have had strong enough local and regional sales to justify traveling to NY and making the investment to be an exhibitor. So, very few of the brands you find at a show like this are tiny, first-time, brand-new startups.

Of the brands that do exhibit, success certainly isn’t the same for everyone. Some fairly large, established brands exhibit because they want to find a spark to increase slumping sales, while some newer brands are looking for their first big account.

Some companies have put themselves behind the eight ball with a product that, unfortunately, has very little to leverage. Their product tastes bad, they’ve chosen a very competitive market segment, their ingredient lists are against the trends, or they don’t have the right price point.

There are brands, though, that have a lot of the right ingredients (quite literally in some cases), and are overlooked because the brand, story, packaging, website, etc., is insufficient to compete.

For an established company, maybe it’s time for a rebrand. Bringing attention to your brand can be as simple as finding a new way to tell your story; to become top-of-mind again. Look at your competition. They’re investing in their brands to take bites out of your market share. Throw your weight around a little. Exert your dominance over the competition. Keep people focused on you, and don’t let the shiny new thing distract your customers.

The opposite is true for a small brand. You’re nimble. Be smarter. Invest more strategically. Make sure that you look the part. Having a great product isn’t enough. You need to attract the consumer (and at a show, the retail buyer) with a professional brand and a dynamic packaging design.

In either case, this is a competition. You need to continuously outflank others in your market space. Bigger brands have to evolve to stay ahead and smaller brands need to shout louder to be heard.

If you’re interested in standing out, contact Upstart Food Brands. We specialize in giving brands the edge they need to win the competition, and we do it at a price that’s palatable for any sized business.

Josh Schipkowski

Owner of Upstart Food Brands, Josh is dedicated to helping food brands realize their potential.