Chris Cornyn is a food branding expert. As president at DINE—The Food and Drink Agency, Chris has worked with brands across the entire food industry, including Mrs. Fields Cookies, Starbucks, Green Giant, Yoplait, Betty Crocker, and Black Angus. His skills include rebranding, creating new products, and creating the most effective packaging possible.
You can see Chris on "Supermarket Superstar," Thursday nights on Lifetime, at 10:30/9:30 Central. He serves as the show's "Food Branding Guru," helping would be food entrepreneurs hone their food product ideas into sellable concepts that will attract the attention of retailers and earn customer loyalty. Alongside host Stacy Keibler and fellow judges Debbi Fields and Michael Chiarello, Chris will help determine the grand prize winner, whose product will line A&P grocery store shelves nationwide.
Here are just a few highlights from my talk with Chris.
Food packaging should adhere to the "Circular Decree" (6:42) "Anytime I look at a food package (and we all have seen those circulars in newspapers on Sunday...), but if you look at the products in those—whether it's at a big retailer like Target or your local supermarket—the packaging is reproduced at a teeny little size, and there's some that are totally evident of what it is, and others you have no idea what it is. If you take your food packaging, and you shrink it down to be an inch high, is there a shape of a product that's iconic? Is it your brand logo that you still can recognize? Is it a unique flavor profile that jumps across? These are little things...that most food marketers don't look at, but as we move forward, you can look at some of the tools that have been used—such as circulars, where the product is reproduced really small—and then look at the Web and it's produced small, and your brand needs to come across. Your point of differentiation needs to come across in those small formats."
Food packaging needs to be "shelf evident" (8:30): "Often, people don't even see your packaging... 30% of packages in the supermarket are not even seen by the consumer. Either they have terrible placement, or they just gloss over them. This idea of 'Shelf Evident,' meaning in 2.6 seconds you have to understand what it is, why it fits into your life, what you're going to be putting into your mouth, and that is a [tall] order. First-time food entrepreneurs get so wrapped up in the taste and the 'it' of what's inside, that they don't...step back and say...'why is somebody going to pull this up off the shelf?'"
To break into the food industry, look for "sleepy categories" ripe for disruption (19:49): "'Sleepy categories' is what I call them, where there hasn't been anything new or disruptive; [they] are great opportunities. One could have looked at yogurt [before Greek yogurt emerged on the scene]...and said there's no room for anyone. But there was no innovation in that category. If you go up and down the grocery aisles, there are a lot of sleepy categories, where there's no one who's come up with a new packaging design, or a new flavor profile, or a new way of making it. Identify those and see if you can be disruptive, if you can come up with something new. The food industry is always changing, and there's always going to be room for somebody."
Food Fact: Older brands will often introduce new flavor varieties, packaging types, or other variations, just to remind consumers that the original product is still available. How well the new products sell isn't important; it's all about boosting awareness for the original.
For more information, visit https://www.mylifetime.com/shows/supermarket-superstar or follow Chris Cornyn on Twitter: @cornyn.
Chris and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Chris Cornyn, food branding expert, and "Food Branding Guru" on the Lifetime reality competition series "Supermarket Superstars."