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I was recently interviewed by the folks at the Speciality Foods Association, for my thoughts on what is happening in their sector.

How a Futurist Deciphers Trends
By Brandon Fox, January 2016

RD2008Food1.jpg

Fads have a shorter lifespan, trends have a shorter lifespan, consumers have a shorter attention span.

Author, speaker, and consultant Jim Carroll offers global trend analysis and strategies for change to companies as varied as Johnson & Johnson, the Walt Disney Corporation, and Yum! Brands. Here, he discusses why trends are more complicated than “what’s hot or what’s not,” the lightning speed of consumer influencers, and why experimentation is necessary to build shopper relationships.

WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY?

Boy, where do we start? I take a different approach—it’s not “what’s hot or what’s not,” but how are things changing and how quickly can specialty food come to market

People are influenced faster than say, five or 10 years ago—or even a year ago—and a lot of that has to do with social networks, but also with just the way new concepts and new ideas are put in front of them.

I spoke to a group of beverage executives a couple of years ago about what was happening with food and alcohol. I told them to think about “Mad Men.” All of sudden, 1960s retro drinks were all the rage. It happened quickly because people are influenced in new and different ways. It’s not, “what are the new taste sensations?” but “where are those new taste sensations coming from?”

[As for what’s emerging now,] consider how hummus grew as a trend—and then consider what comes next: more quinoa, buckwheat, and rice [products] as people seek similar healthy snack and meal options. And there are fascinating new developments like fruit sushi, chocolate-flavored soda, and even bacon-flavored vodka.”

WHERE DO YOU SEE INFLUENCES COMING FROM SPECIFICALLY?

One example I use all the time is bacon. I traced it back from an article that appeared in the Associated Press newswire in March 2011. The article was called “How Bacon Sizzled and People Got Sweet on Cupcakes.” [The author] followed the trend back to a wine distributor in Southern California who, about six years ago, paired a Syrah with peppered bacon at a tasting. That somehow got out onto the blogs of the time and all of a sudden, boom! Bacon became hot. Everyone talks about Facebook and Twitter all the time, but it’s a new kind of connectivity in terms of how we eat and drink and how we share and talk about it.

DO YOU THINK CELEBRITY CHEFS’ INFLUENCE HAS BEEN STRONG ENOUGH TO DRIVE THIS INDUSTRY?

Huge impact. It used to take a new taste trend from a high-end restaurant five years [to filter down] and now it takes six months or three months or less because there is so much exposure. And another thing is food trucks. People can’t meet the high capital cost of a new restaurant, so they roll out a truck. They’re everywhere. You have people with obvious skills. They can now do what they want and get in front of an audience. And with television shows like the Cooking Channel’s “Eat Street,” it’s a supernova that’s moving faster than ever before.

HOW DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN SOMETHING THAT’S GOING TO BE SUSTAINED VERSUS A BLIP ON THE RADAR? YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT BEING NIMBLE, BUT IS THERE A DANGER TO JUMPING TOO QUICKLY?

Too fast or too slow? When the low-fat and low-carb trends came along, by the time [companies] got a product to market, the trend had come and gone. One fascinating experience was when I was doing a talk for Reader’s Digest’s food and entertainment magazines on the same day Lehman Brothers went down and the stock market crashed. The focus of the conference quickly became the economic downturn, comfort food, and the fact that people would focus on more grocery shopping and less time in restaurants. That was the day that Campbell’s Soup was the only stock that went up in value. The buzz around the room was that we, as a food industry, are not very fast or agile to respond to these fast-paced trends.

THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN IN 2008—HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THINGS CHANGE SINCE THEN?

I still worry. How far has the industry come along? Well, a little bit. To a large degree, many consumer food companies still have not made much progress. Fads have a shorter lifespan, trends have a shorter lifespan, consumers have a shorter attention span. While you might have had longevity of three to six to 12 months with a particular type of food, is that collapsing now? We’re no longer in a world in which we can sit back and have a one-year planning cycle.

YOU TALK A LOT ABOUT MOBILE TECHNOLOGY. EVERYONE SEEMS TO BE DOING EVERYTHING WITH THEIR PHONES, BUT HOW CAN A COMPANY REALLY LEVERAGE MOBILE?

Think big, start small, scale fast. If you think big and look five years out—you’re, say, an olive oil company—the bottle is going to be intelligent. It’s probably going to have a chip built into it. You’ll 
probably have some type of relationship, either direct or indirect, with the consumer. That’s a given.

HOW WILL A CHIP ON A LABEL OR BOTTLE HELP THE 
COMPANY GET TO KNOW THE CONSUMER?

The consumer might have liked the company on Facebook—maybe there was a very effective ad on Facebook and they have agreed to share their information. That establishes the relationship. When [the consumer] walks into the store, their mobile device has that 
relationship embedded in it and the product with the active 
packaging chip in it recognizes that they’re near and starts running a commercial on an LED screen while they’re walking into the store. It might say something such as, “You’ve liked this before, so here’s a coupon that we’ll zip to your mobile device.”

That kind of freaks me out.

I’m 56 and that kind of freaks me out, too. My son—he’s 20—is in a different world. He views contractual relationships in a very 
different way. Five years, 10 years from now, he’s going to have more of a budget for spending, and will he accept that idea of zipping a coupon to him? I think he will.

There’s a stat I dragged out years ago—the average consumer scans 12 feet of shelf space per second. Think about that. You have very little time to grab their attention, so you’ve got to experiment quickly with new ways of putting [your product] in front of them.

Brandon Fox is the food and drink editor of Style Weekly in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has also appeared in The Local Palate and the Washington Post.

I haven’t done of these posts in a while — it’s a semi-regular summary of 10 of the most recent search phrases that resulted in people discovering information in my blog through the last week.

It’s a useful way to see what people around the world might be thinking about, or some of the issues that are top of mind. It’s also a great way to discover some of the unique blog posts throughout my site — with well over 1,000, there’s a lot of useful content in here that you might not find.

You might consider buying a copy of my book, The Future Belongs To Those Who are Fast — it’s a great compendium of the best of these posts from over 10 years of blogging!

You can see some other What’s Hot entries here.

I use some fabulous Web site tracking software — notably Woopra and OpenTracker — both of which give me *real time* insight into what people are discovering on my site, so it’s pretty easy to pull this information together. Here we go:

  • a search for “what trends are driving today’s consumer” led to the Consumer & food category of my blog; it leads to a whole series of blog posts that focus on these issues
  • someone in India looking for “innovations in retail” was led to the post “Creativity, trends and innovation in retail, packaging and consumer goods“, a post from 2005 that still bears powerful relevance to what is happening in these sectors today
  • from South Africa, a search for “futuristic trends in agriculture” led to “10 Big Trends for Agriculture” — a post I wrote many years ago but which continues to be one of the most popular pages on my Web site. And even though it was written in 2005, it still remains powerfully relevant today. I do a LOT of keynotes in the agricultural sector
  • over in Belgium, someone was looking at Google for “new trends in fitness and wellness.” They hit a relatively new post I did earlier this year, “Trend Report: The Future of Health, Fitness and Wellness
  • from Cincinatti, a search for “latest trends in the property and casualty insurance industry” led to “The insurance industry in 2015” , a concise overview of how this industry is undergoing dramatic and fast paced change
  • in Indiana, someone searching for “10 ways to kill innovation (or what not to do)” found the blog post “10 Surefire Ways to Destroy Innovative Thinking,” one of the most favourite blog posts I’ve ever written
  • a search for “fast food industry trends” from someone in Louisiana led to my blog post, “The BIG food industry trend for 2012: Bold Goals, Big Bets
  • If only I had a dollar for each search done where people from the US end up on my site for information on future healthcare trends. A search from a major US pharma company for “key trends business us healthcare market led to “10 major health care / pharmaceutical trends, a really concise summary of the scientific, technological and other trends that are transforming the sector
  • Just moments after this search, someone from Florida was looking for “future healthcare trends , and they were led to a more comprehensive detailed post that gets a lot of traffic, Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will REALLY Define Our Future
  • and from the Philippines, a search for the phrase “Leaders are innovative and future – oriented. They focus on getting the job done” led to my blog post, “How future ready is your organization?” It provides some good insight on whether your organization is clearly aligned for what comes next — or is simply stuck in the here and now.

That’s 10 search phrases — and a simple summary of some great insight. Stayed tuned — more “What’s Hot” posts to come!

If you want to track analytics on your own Web site, I highly recommend both Woopra and OpenTracker. Fascinating insight!

From my keynote earlier this year at the International Dairy, Deli and Bakery Association, a clip that outlines faster change — in consumer taste trends, societal change, technology — drives the need for speed being the new success factor in the food industry in terms of retail.

The clip certainly ties in to what is one of the most popular pages on my Web site: “Food Industry Trends 2011: Report from a a keynote.”  Watch the above, and then read the post – you’ll find the link below.

As we wind down 2011, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the events I highlighted this year. It proved to be quite the year year, with many fascinating events where I opened or closed a large scale conference or corporate meeting with a keynote address.

One of Jim's key themes is the opportunities of the future - at one in Las Vegas, one fellow was so inspired by the message that he asked Jim when he might consider running for President of the United States. Click to watch!

As we approach the end of the year, everyone turns their attention to 2012 — and begins to wonder “what comes next?” All of my clients are focused on that theme when they engage me for a keynote or corporate workshop — and so a sense of what they were thinking about in 2011 gives you a good sense of what’s going to be important in 2012!

Some of the highlights from this year includes these events:

  • CSC Executive Exchange 2011, St. Andrews, Scotland. A small, intimate, invitation only event where I shared keynote duties with Jimmy Wales, the Founder of WikiPedia. I had CEO’s, CIO’s and CFO’s of some pretty major global organizations. Key theme: “The Next Wave of Digital Game-Changers” – I took a look at how every industry is soon to be caught up in Silicon Valley velocity, as technological comes to change every industry at lightening speed.
  • McKesson IdeaShare 2011, San Francisco, California. Changing roles, changing opportunities. I open this annual event with a message for 4,500 pharmacist / owners that with significant challenges and change in the world of healthcare and retail, the time is ripe for them to innovate with their role and their methods because their has never provided a bigger time for opportunity. The big theme: “Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will REALLY Define Our Future.” This proved to be a huge topic for this year, and continues into 2012, as people come to seek insight on what will really happen in the world of healthcare beyond the current political rhetoric.
  • Multi-Unit Franchising Conference 2011, Las Vegas. I share the stage with Sean Tuohy, subject of the Blind Side, who owns quite a few franchise operations on his own. The focus in my keynote is on the fast changes occurring in the world of retail with consumers, technology, advertising and branding, social networking – you name it all!
  • US Air Force Research Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio: This group, which controls the entire research budget for the Air Force, brings me in to open a conference in which they examine new opportunities and methodologies for innovative thinking. Fascinating audience, and indicative of the fact that every organization realizes that the world is changing so fast that a lot of traditional assumptions about innovation and R&D are changing at lightening speed!
  • Consumer Goods Technology Magazine 2011 , Orlando, Florida. The pre-eminent conference for packaged goods, food and consumer products companies, with a huge number of Fortune 500 executives. My theme focuses on ‘what world class innovators do that others don’t do‘, particularly to keep up with changing consumers, mobile technologies, social networks and a variety of other trends. It leads to a blog post by one fellow, “Some mind blowing stats from Jim Carroll ….” Big themes: “Mobile, Social, Location!
  • Maple Leaf Foods, Toronto, Canada. A blog post, “Food industry trends 2011; Report from a keynote” was based on this talk. This blog post is now one of the first search results for anyone searching for anything having to do with food trends — and is now easily the most trafficked Web page on my site. After health care, food trends is probably the second busiest topic area for the year.
  • T. Rowe Price 2011 Investment Symposium. 600 investment managers, senior executives and CEO’s. The other keynotes are Colin Powell and Charlie Cook. My job is to close this two day event with an inspirational, motivational message based on the theme “When Do We Get to Normal? Why Thinking BIG Will Help You Seize The Opportunities of the 21st Century.”
  • World Pharma Innovation Congress, London, UK. I’m honored to open this renowned global conference on innovation within their crucial sector – most of the global heavy hitters from the world of pharma and bio-science are in the room. Opportunities for growth and innovation are coming from hyper-science, opportunities for externally sourced innovation insight, and the big global ‘idea machine’ that is revolutionizing opportunities for innovative thinking.
  • Interactive Manufacturing Exchange, Las Vegas, Nevada. A massive highlight from September — with a dinner keynote for 600 major manufacturing executives, and a morning keynote for 1,000 more. My keynote focus is that there is plenty of room for growth in the North American manufacturing sector, given the tremendous advances that have occurred with methodology and technology. My message must have resonated — after my talk, one fellow got up during the Q&A and asked if I would consider running for President of the US!
  • DSSI Forum, San Antonio, Texas. One of the largest seniors care conferences in the US. I spoke at length and with passion about the big opportunities for innovative thinking in the sector, particularly in light of the big challenges that society faces. This was a very personal event; those who know me well know that we have learned quite a bit about the challenges society faces with Alzheimer’s as a close family member has suffered from the disease.
  • Lockheed Martin, Washington, DC. I’m asked to speak at their 2011 global HR conference. The organization is aligning itself to deal with fast paced change in ever sector of its operations: my theme is what companies are doing o achieve “skills agility”, and why the issue of “deploying the right skills at the right time for the right purpose” is an increasingly important model for the future.
  • Pearson 2011. The future of education. A talk that linked key future trends to the need for massive, transformation thinking in the world of knowledge delivery. Noted one attendee: “Jim Carroll gave a particularly poignant keynote address about the need for true, innovative thinking.  (Think of a 5 year mission on steroids…)”
  • Bombardier Global Operators Conference. The future of corporate and leisure travel. Manufacturing innovation. Consumer change, and the impact of mobility. A wide ranging talk that challenges global airline operators to think about innovation in every aspect of their operations.
  • Fairmont / Raffles Hotels International. A corporate event, focused on the future of the global meetings and events industry. Key theme: organizations will increasingly require short, sharp shocks of knowledge delivery — corporate meetings and events are a big part of this trend, and are a key part of the short term strategic planning cycles that organizations are focused upon.
  • Texas CattleFeeders Association, Amarillo, Texas. The 2nd of two major talks for the cattle/beef industry in the US. Earlier in the year, I opened a private event that had in the room the top 100 cattle ranchers from across the country – representing a  multi-billion dollar investment. My keynotes focus on the significant opportunities for growth in the agricultural industry.
  • International Foundation 57th annual Employee Benefits Congress, New Orleans, LA. A morning keynote for 4,500 people at 730AM in New Orleans — and they all show up, confirming that description that “what I do for a living is go out and talk to large groups of hungover people.” It’s a rousing talk on the theme of Healthcare 2020: Today’s Trends, Tomorrow’s Opportunities
  • Linde Health Group, Munich, Germany. Global opportunities in the world of healthcare – how do we link future trends to opportunities for growth.

There were quite a few other keynotes for associations, government and corporations. In addition to these high profile engagements, which featured audiences of up to 6,000, I also hosted a number of small CEO level events. In one case in Washington, I spent the morning with a small group of 15 CEO’s/CIO’s/CFO’s in a boardroom style setting, where we explored the opportunities for growth that coming from linking future trends to innovative thinking.

Advance bookings for 2012 are exceedingly strong — so far, I know I’ll be in Palm Springs, Tampa, Orlando, Phoenix, Aspen, New Orleans (x2), San Antonio and many other locations.

Think growth. Think opportunity. Think trends. Think positive!

Earlier this month, I was down in Amarillo, Texas, where I was the opening keynote speaker for Day 2 of the annual conference of the Texas Cattlefeeders Association.

Jim Carroll – “I’m willing to admit that it was the first time I’ve ever had audience members getting their boots shined before my keynote address! But talk about an audience focused on innovation!”

The event was lined as the result of another keynote I did in Sonoma County, California last April, where I spoke to a  gathering that included “what were probably the top 100 cattle, stockyard and feedlot operators in the US.” I reported on that event in a post, “Agriculture 2020: Innovation, growth & opportunity.”

The common theme to both of these keynotes? There is massive, significant opportunity for global growth in the agricultural sector. While there might be a lot of short term volatility due to the daily twists and turns with the global economy, one undeniable fact remains: global food production has to double over the next several decades to keep up with population growth and increasing food intake, particularly within emerging economies. I’ve found with both of these audiences that there is a relentless sense of optimism, and certainly a pretty significant openness to new ideas and opportunities for innovation. Read the post about “agriculture 2020” and you’ll get a sense of the reasons for their optimism.

That’s why I was fascinated to come across an article (“Future of ag is all about refrigerators“) that appeared in the Farm & Dairy Blog back in October (its the official for the well known Farm & Dairy Newspaper) that covered  my thinking and message in a nutshell:

We still face a global food market — a world population that stands at 6.9 billion and could reach 7 billion by the end of October.

If those numbers make your head spin and you really feel disconnected from that reality, think about refrigerators instead.

Carroll reminds us, as other have, that the growing population also has a growing segment with greater income, and they will eat more meat. He cites figures that estimate per capita meat consumption growth from 2000 to 2030 of 49 percent in China, 79 percent in India, and 22 percent in Brazil, for example.

And in India, the number one consumer product on an individual’s wish list is a television.

Number two? A refrigerator.

“Right now, refrigerators have only a 13 percent market penetration,” Carroll wrote in a blog post earlier this year.

“Talk about opportunities for growth.

 Sometimes the easiest way to think about future trends is to forget all the fancy analysis, detailed summaries, and simply concentrate on one simple statistic and trend. Most people in the world don’t have a refrigerator. Many want to have one. That fact alone is going to drive agriculture forward at a furious pace.

Farm & Dairy wasn’t the only one to pick up on this theme: over at The Social Silo (“Agriculture gets wired”), an article appeared, “Five Farm Things to Chew On This Week“, which offered up some “food for thought” for those in the agriculture sector.

Their last point? Refrigerators!

We’ve heard so much about world population growth and “who will feed the world,” that we’ve actually become a little distanced from that conversation. But the reality is this: As more people worldwide increase their income and class standing, they will eat more meat. In India, the number one item on wish lists is a television. The second wish? No, not a car, but a refrigerator, says futurist Jim Carroll. “Right now, refrigerators have only a 13 percent market penetration. Talk about opportunities for growth,” Carroll wrote in his blog last spring.

Carroll predicts per capita meat consumption growth from 2000 to 2030 will be 49 percent in China, 79 percent in India, and 22 percent in Brazil.

That alone should give you something to chew on.

Of course, agricultural producers have to balance the reality of growth with innovation in methods involving production, due to growing concerns about sustainability, safety and quality. The Farm & Dairy article went on to observe this issue around innovation.

We’re going to need more food, but we’re going to have to produce it more sustainably. That will take innovation, new ways of thinking, and new ways of farming.

Carroll predicts we’ll see more change on the farm in the next 10 years than we’ve seen in the last 50, and he might be right. Today’s farmer has reinvented himself at least once in his lifetime, and will have to be ready to reinvent his farm again.

Ag entrepreneurs will flourish. The opportunity is there for the future of agriculture. Just open the refrigerator.

I must admit, it certainly is a thrill to work with folks throughout the agriculture sector — I do find this to be one of the most innovative sectors of the population. That might come as a surpass to many people, who often view farmers and ranchers as folks who are stuck in tradition. Nothing could be further from the truth — the sector has come to accept innovation as a core virtue for years.

Indeed, I wrote about this way back in 2005, when i was out there talking to the theme, “I Found the Future in Manure: How to Capitalize on the Rapid Evolution of Science”. Those series of keynotes were based on the very theme of innovation that I was discovering throughout the agriculture sector in the early part of 2000-2001. I even ended up writing an article that made it into my Ready, Set, Done book, called “I found the future in manure!”

One thing I’ve come to appreciate is that farmers and ranchers and those who support theme can be some of the most innovative people on the planet. Here’s a video clip from a keynote to a US Military conference in Dallas — yes, the military — and I’m describing to them the unique innovation insight that can be learned from farmers.

 If you want to master innovation — then think about refrigerators, and think like a farmer!

 

  • Farm & Dairy: The future of ag is in refrigerators 
  • Agriculture 2020: Innovation, opportunity and growth 
  • Farm Progress Magazine: Texas Cattlefeeders will Beef Up in Amarillo 
  • Food industry trends 2011: Report from a keynote 
  • Blog post: I found the future in manure 
  • 2004 article: “I found the future in manure!” 

 

 

 

Health, wellness and food are set to become even more linked than ever before in 2012 and beyond.

That’s a significant trend that I’m witnessing right now through the various keynotes and consultations that I do with a large range of food / restaurant / consumer product companies, as well as the keynotes I do for major health care groups worldwide. I get to see what food companies are focused on; I get to see what healthcare groups and governments are worried about…..

Jim Carroll helps global organizations interpret how the trends of today will impact them tomorrow. His food and health care clients include H.J. Heinz, Nestle, the World Healthcare Innovation & Technology Summit, and just recently, as the opening keynote speaker for the 2011 World Pharma Innovation Congress in London, England

In a nutshell, here’s what’s happening:

  • the importance of health and wellbeing on a global national, political and healthcare system perspective is accelerating. We’ve got a big global problem, and nations and governments are racing to deal with it.
  • the result is that there is a very significant effort by food companies to speed up their innovation engine with respect to their health and wellness product line – it’s being done to mitigate potential political risk down the road
  • it’s also being done because it makes increasing business sense — as consumers worldwide begin to adjust their lifestyle, including their food intake, revenues of the health/wellness product line soars. One report suggests, the sale of heath and wellness oriented foods is expected to quadruple through the next five years.
  • to help accomplish that, food and consumer product companies are make an increasing number of BIG BETS involving product development, and through even more vigorous M&A activities, that enhance their health and wellness product lines

Making BIG BETS involves establishing big goals. Consider just two examples of “BIG BET thinking”:

  • “Frito-Lay, the biggest U.S. seller of salty snacks, is embarking on an audacious plan. By the end of the year, it intends to make half its snacks sold in the U.S. with only natural ingredients” You Put What in This Chip? 24 March 2011, The Wall Street Journal
  •  Pepsi intends to grow a $10 billion health and wellness portfolio to $30 billion by 2020

Savvy food companies know that globally, they face increasing national financial, political and healthcare risk. Quite simply, the world is getting fat, people are getting sick, and countries are not going to be able to afford the care for those suffering from the resultant lifestyle disease.

Here’s a clip in which I’m speaking to the annual general meeting of the Professional Golfers Association of America — the PGA! — on the depth of the obesity / lifestyle crisis.

Given this reality, and the economic volatility in Europe, the US, Japan and elsewhere as government revenue declines and spending soars, in 2012 and beyond we are going to see far more aggressive efforts by politicians and governments to reign in health care spending, including that related to lifestyle-disease. Nations simply can’t afford what is set to come in terms of spending.

Much of this activity will come to involve far more aggressive efforts concerning preventative health care programs, including wellness and lifestyle management. We can expect governments and politicians to become far more aggressive with food companies when it comes to their food offerings.

There is a big political risk here on a global scale.

The result? Smart food companies are making BIG BETS right now to grow their health and wellness product lines. It makes great sense from a business sense; it’s critical in order to stay one step ahead of government trends in order to mitigate risk.

So how will food companies grow their health and wellness line of business? By accelerating internal innovation into health and wellness product lines, but also through some pretty aggressive M&A activity

  • A report by Deloitte suggests that this will include increased M&A activity involving dairy, juice, health snacks and functional foods.
  • Gerald Abelson, president of Canadian corporate finance group MNC Multinational Consultants recently observed that “health and wellness is definitely where you want to be in the next three to five years” in a discussion about global M&A activity in the food and consumer product sector in 2012 and beyond.

Big Goals – Big Bets.

That’s the focus for 2012 and beyond for most companies in the food and restaurant sector.

Background:

If you check the Health Trends section of this blog, you’ll find a post in which I write about the ongoing and significant challenges that the world faces with the rapid emergence of lifestyle disease and other challenges. Notes one comment in that post (“Trend – Confronting the Global Health Care Crisis”):

It’s the lifestyle disease that provides the biggest challenge in terms of scope: according to the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, “1.6 billion adults are overweight or obese worldwide and over 50 per cent of adults in the US and Europe fit into this category.”

 with the resultant impact:

  • “The number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980 to 347 million, a far larger number than previously thought and one that suggests costs of treating the disease will also balloon.” Global diabetes epidemic balloons to 350 million, Reuters Health E-Line, June 27, 2011

Lest we think that this is a problem only in the Western world, I also note that:

The challenge with lifestyle disease isn’t restricted to the Western world; the statin (cholesterol) drug market in China, India other “BRIC”countries is set to grow at rates of up to 25% compounded per year. In other words, developing nations are soon to see the same lifestyle diseases which are currently sweeping through North America and Europe.

 

I haven’t done of these posts in a while — it’s an observation of 10 of the most recent search phrases that resulted in people discovering information in my blog through the last week.

It’s a useful way to see what people around the world might be thinking about, or some of the issues that are top of mind. You can see some other What’s Hot entries here.

I’ve got some fabulous new Web site tracking software — notably Woopra and OpenTracker — both of which give me *real time* insight into what people are discovering on my site, so it’s pretty easy to pull this information together.

Here we go:

    • a search for “food product trends marketing” from Ireland resulted in someone hitting what is currently one of the most heavily visited pages on my Web site — “Food industry trends 2011 – Report from a keynote“. Literally a few hundred hits a day!
  • from Bangalore, India, a search for “healthcare industry trends presentation” led to the page “Healthcare 2020: The Transformative Trends That Will REALLY Define Our Future“, also one of the most popular pages on my site. What is evident is that people find a tremendous amount of value in the detailed trends outlines as found in this type of post and the previous food industry post — there are a lot of these scattered throughout my blog covering a wide range of industries. Try the Trends link for a list by industry.
  • another popular search concerns the future of the meetings and events industry. From San Diego this morning, a search for “event industry 2012 trends” led to the post “Future of the meetings / events industry
  • from Singapore, a search for “characteristics of the 21st century” led to the post “10 Unique Characteristics of 21st Century Skills” which is a useful guide to the key HR issues that you are facing now and into the future
  • on the HR theme, it’s kind of funny that someone in Larisa, Greece, did a search this morning for “Jobs of the future 2015“, which took them to the post “Good jobs in Bad Times – I’m interviewed on PBS on future career trends“. Maybe it will help to inspire someone for post-Greek economic meltdown HR innovation!
  • from Kenya, a search for “importance of innovation to consumers” led to the post “The importance of innovation in the era of the “new normal.” This post is a good summery of the key factors which require fast paced innovation today.
  • from Malaysia, someone searching for “future ready organization” hit the post, “How future ready is your organization?”. I wrote that in 2009 – and write about the velocity ratio, the rate of ‘rising tides’ and other factors that might give you a sense of whether your organization is keeping up with the speed of innovation occurring in your industry.
  • out in Madras, India, a search for the phrase “innovation themes for wealth management technology” led to a post that summarized my 2009 keynote for the National Australia Bank – “14 Key Innovation Strategies for Financial Advisors & Financial Organizations”
  • from North Carolina in the US, a search for “bioengineered body parts” odd to the post from 2006, “Bio-engineered body parts, the Cold Store and personalized medicine…” Consider what I wrote in 2006! “The pill bottle linked into my home network grid in order to interact with the prescription drug company. They had specifically engineered this medicine the day before for my own bio-code, based on a quick sampling of my blood and sinus condition that was done at the local Cold Store.”
  • last but not least, someone in Las Vegas did a search this morning for the phrase “things you have to do in vegas during the recession.” That took them to a great post that still works with the current and ongoing volatility in the global economy, “10 Things You Need to Do to Innovate in a Recession

That’s 10 search phrases — and a simple summary of some great insight. Stayed tuned — more “What’s Hot” posts to come!

If you want to track analytics on your own Web site, I highly recommend both Woopra and OpenTracker. Fascinating insight!

Fresh from my keynote in Orlando this week, I’ve come across a blog post from someone who attended, and saw my early-Monday keynote – “‘Breakthrough performers’ and ‘pervasive connectivity’: Notes from the CGT Business & Technology Leadership Conference.”

"Leading international author and “futurist,” Jim Carroll, delivered the keynote address, capturing the audience’s attention with some mind-blowing stats on the rapid pace of change and innovation in the technology space."

You can read the full post by Sean Rollings, Vice President, Product Marketing over at the E2open blog, or read an extract below.

In the room were senior executives from many of the largest consumer product and food companies in the world; indeed, I was dazzled from the presentation of a senior executive from PepsiCo who took to the stage right after me with his observations on what is happening in the consumer space.

The essence of my message in Orlando was modelled on the themes found in these two blog posts:

  • “What do world class innovators do that others don’t do?” 
  • “Food industry trends 2011: Report from a keynote” 

I can tell you that these two pages are among the top-10 most heavily trafficked on my Web site, and so obviously there are a lot of senior executives in the food and consumer products sector who realize that when it comes to innovation, one of their key goals must be, how do we speed things up to deal with the reality of fast-paced consumer, technological, market, product, and global change.

“Breakthrough performers” and “pervasive connectivity”: Notes from the CGT Business & Technology Leadership Conference
Sean Rollings, Vice President, Product Marketing, E2open

 I made my way to the Sunshine State this week for the Consumer Goods Business & Technology Leadership Conference in Orlando. The turnout is impressive, with technology and supply chain professionals from all the major players in the CPG space (plus a number of up-and-comers). And while the keynote sessions and panel discussions cover a gamut of topics, everyone is really here for the same thing: learning and collaborating on the “what’s next” for technology and the consumer goods business.

Leading international author and “futurist,” Jim Carroll, delivered the keynote address, capturing the audience’s attention with some mind-blowing stats on the rapid pace of change and innovation in the technology space. According to Carroll, recent research indicates that 65 percent of current preschool students will work in a job that does not yet exist. Along the same lines, 50 percent of the information taught to first-year Science undergraduates will be obsolete by the time they graduate.

The business-related statistics were no less shocking. For example, roughly 60 percent of Apple’s revenue is currently generated by products that are less than four years old. The rate of innovation is accelerating, big time. And from Carroll’s perspective (and the evidence is convincing), the only way to stay competitive in today’s marketplace is to embrace the current onslaught of change and innovation—and run with it!

In keeping with this theme, Carroll shared a compelling piece of research from GE innovation consultants: Of those companies in existence during the economic recessions of the 70s, 80s, 90s, and our most recent “Great Recession”—on average—60 percent survived, 30 percent died, and 10 percent became breakthrough performers. How did this top-10 percent do it? According to Carroll, these companies succeeded because they invested in world-class innovation while everyone else was retrenching. For the “breakthrough performers” of our most recent recession, this innovation has been largely focused on pervasive connectivity—everyone connected to everyone, regardless of geographic location or technical sophistication.

The GE study that I refer is a theme that I use in many presentations — you can catch a glimpse of how I put the reality of innovating despite economic uncertainty in this video clip from a keynote in San Antonio, Texas, earlier this year.

 

It’s been a whirlwind of activity over the last two months, with about 20 major keynotes under my belt.

One of these was a corporate event for a food company with $7 billion in revenue and 24,000 employees ; my talk was on the key food industry trends of today that should be driving innovation from a marketing, product development and branding perspective.

Jim Carroll on stage at the Readers Digest Food and Entertainment Group Summit, in front of several hundred food and consumer product executives, advertising agencies, grocery and retail organizations and publishers of the world's most popular food magazines, speaking to the trends driving the food industry today, .

This is one of many events I do for food and consumer product clients – my global client list includes high profile keynotes or leadership meetings for the Readers Digest Food & Entertainment Division (the publisher of such innovative magazines as Everyday with Rachel Ray), the Produce Marketing Association Annual Fresh Summit, HJ Heinz, Nestle , FMC FoodTechnologies, Burger King, Yum! Brands and many more.

I was the keynote speaker for a meeting of their top 250 marketing executives; my mandate was to focus on how to innovate around the trends that are today impacting the food industry today, with a particular focus on consumer behaviour.

Below are a few of the many trends that I spoke about. I took on an extensive amount of research for this keynote, which is typical of how I approach these events.

In effect, I built my keynote around the theme “….these are the trends that will drive your brands……”, and from that, they could best learn how to change and innovate with their branding and marketing message.

1. Biggest trend: We are witnessing a changing relationship with food

My main observation is that we live in a period of time that sees consumers interacting with food, the purchasing of food, and the consumption of food in new and different ways.

An article, Observer Food Monthly in the Guardian Newspaper, 15 May 2011 caught this sentiment perfectly:

  • “… never before has our culture been so engaged in discussing and experimenting with and agonizing over and fantasizing about and plain enjoying what is on the end of our forks”

Consider what is happening:

  • we have a new form of interaction when purchasing food. Consider the number of iPhone apps by which we can research calorie counts, nutrition facts and other information while in the grocery store.
  • we have new influencers in how we make these in-store food decisions. Think about the Monterrey Aquarium Seafood Watch iPhone app, which will give you background that can help you with your ethical food decisions.
  • a change in how we manage our food intake. iPhone and Web sites apps such as Lose It, which allow us to track our food consumption on a calorie-by-calorie, product by product basis.
  • a change in food packaging: ““…..interactive packaging, intelligent and active packaging, multi-sensory packaging, edible packaging … packaging as mini-billboards…” as noted by the research firm Reportlinker. Paackaging is going from passive to active, and is becoming more than just the vehicle for branding – increasingly, it is defining our relationship with the food.
  • a change in our food relationships. Consider the impact of food traceability based on DNA. “Tonning’s restaurant is among more than 11,000 that Richmond-based food distributor Performance Food Group is supplying with DNA-traceable beef as an added value for customers of its premium Braveheart brand. The company, which has annual revenues of about $11 billion, said it is among the first distributors to use the technology.” Where’s the beef, Iowa Press Citizen, May 2011
  • A more direct involvement with the ethics of food. “Wal-Mart, which sells more than 20 per cent of all US groceries, is developing an eco-labelling program that will give a green rating to all items sold in its 7500 stores worldwide.” Unlikely alliance, Sydney Morning Herald, February 2011
  • and very significant transitional trends. Whole grains are the hottest trend in sliced bread, with whole wheat edging out soft white bread in total sales for the first time……… The whole-grain craze has, after all, raised the bar on what consumers are willing to pay for bread that’s perceived as healthy…..” Grains gain ground; Focus on healthy eating helps wheat surpass white in sliced bread sales 1 August 2010, Chicago Tribune

All in all, these are pretty significant, systemic, long term transformative trends that will have a major impact through the next 5-10 years. Smart food companies will recognize that the very nature of our relationship with food is changing and will innovative around that reality. Massive opportunities for innovative thinking exist here!

2. A need to respond to faster consumer preference/taste change

I’ve long been pointing out that consumer preference is changing faster when it comes to food, and that leads to the rapid emergence of new opportunity, or the rapid decline of existing product lines. A few of my observations:

  • behavioural change and food as fashion! Fresh-cut snack food grew from $6.8 billion in to $10.5 billion in one year. Notes one publication: “Snacks are like a fashion category…..People want a change. it’s going to be short-lived–maybe a quarter, maybe six months, then changed out” Private Label Buyer, May 2010.
  • We spend more of our day with our food – it’s not just breakfast, lunch and dinner anymore. Canadian consumers are snacking more frequently. Snacks were 24% of all “meals” consumed by 2010. Fruit leads in the category, and healthy snacks are driving growth – the top 7 snacks include yogurt and granola bars.
  • Food categories can explode in growth over night. US Greek Yogurt sales grew from $33million in 2007 to $469 million today!

The key point with all of these trends is that it reflects our busy, compressed lives — smart food companies will continue to learn how to innovate within that reality with new products, aligning themselves to health concerns, and other trends.

3. The impact of business model change and social networks on food and taste trends

Business model change with pop-up restaurants drives the more rapid emergence of new exotic tastes and flavors!

Clearly, massive connectivity is coming to influence the growth of new foods, brands, tastes, patterns.

I spoke, for example, how bacon has quickly become so trendy as something used to enhance countless recipes. It can be traced right back to an effective social networking campaign.

  • “If there’s one food trend that illustrates how top-down and grassroots phenomena combine it might be bacon….. in southern California about six years ago, Rocco Loosbrock paired peppered bacon with Syrah wine at a tasting….”swine and wine…..!” The mysteries of food trends: How bacon got its sizzle, Associated Press Newswires, March 2011
Social networks are also lining up with a change in business models in the restaurant sector, which helps to drive faster change in consumer taste trends…..
  • In the last few years, we’ve seen an explosion in the number of pop-up restaurants and “Eat St” food – street food!
  • what is happening here is a lower barrier to entry in terms of new restaurant start up cost — more people can get out and start out a restaurant as “street food”, and experiment with new, bold, and exotic tastes and flavors
  • there’s also a very big trend underway that links restaurants and markets together in one location. Go to the restaurant, like the food and want to cook it at home next time? Visit the market in the same building, and buy the exact ingredients for that exact recipe. We call these Resto 2.0’s : for example, Murray’s Market in Ottawa, based on locally farmed food, “….sells cheeses, meats, produce and house-made foodstuffs, providing customers with many of the same raw ingredients they use as their restaurant next door.” Globe & Mail, June 1, 2011
  • all of these trends involve a new breed of restaurateur / entrepreneur;  they’ve learned to link these efforts with very effective social network campaigns. The result is that we now have even faster emergence of new taste trends. Smart food companies will learn how to innovate around the sheer velocity of what is occurring here – ‘faster is the new fast!’

My key point? Innovation is all about time to market … and the brand message needs to match the new speed metric…

4. A new consumer volatility

Back in 2009, I keynote global events for both Burger King and Yum! Brands. One of the major points in both keynotes was the consumer and public health concerns would come to drive more of a focus on a healthier diet; hence, the need for more aggressive innovation around a balanced menu that offered up more healthier choices.

Since then, looking back, it looks like one chain took the message to heart, and the other didn’t. Can you guess which ones?

What’s happened since then? Restaurant chains — and by extension, food companies — are discovering that consumer activity has become very volatile. They might talk of the need to go out and eat healthier, but then go out and continue to buy big, fat juicy cheeseburgers.

But then the news continues to hammer home the cold realities of North American food lifestyles, and the impact of childhood obesity.

  • over the past 30 years, childhood obesity rates in North America have tripled
  • 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese
  • 1/3 of all children born in 2000 or later will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lives
  • many others will face chronic obesity-related health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and asthma

Add to that new messages from Michelle Obama, Jamie Kennedy and other influencers around this debate — and all of a sudden, behaviour begins to change faster than people expect. Consider comments in the article Dining chains shape up menus ;Customers place low-cal orders now, 13 April 2011, USA Today

  • :Something odd is afoot in restaurants where Americans have typically gone to gorge: healthier grub. This nutritional U-turn is taking place at some of the unlikeliest of eateries, including Denny’s, IHOP, Friendly’s, Sizzler and even at the nation’s biggest casual dining chain, Applebee’s, where the numbers are eye-popping.
  • “For the first two months of 2011, the top-selling entree at Applebee’s wasn’t a gloppy burger or flashy fajita plate. It was a sirloin and shrimp entree from the chain’s diet menu. This marks the first time that a low-calorie item ever ranked as the chain’s best seller for a single month — let alone two in a row.
  • “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Mike Archer, president of Applebee’s.
  • “When Applebee’s launched the under-550-calorie menu in 2010, it didn’t immediately take off, says Archer. But after some tweaks, it caught fire early this year. It now accounts for up to 8% of sales”

8 percent of sales! For healthy options! The key innovation opportunity is to keep innovating with food and taste trends around trends such as health, local, regional. The consumer is volatile, and will change faster than ever before.

Key marketing and branding innovation points?

  • consumer behaviour is now more unpredictable than ever before!
  • sudden, dramatic shifts driven by sudden external influences or other pressures are the new reality
  • it’s easy to abandon marketing momentum / commitment due to slowness of trend (i.e. healthy lifestyle – consumers say one thing, and do another!)
  • yet success from ability to quickly rejig marketing message based on trend spikes – speed matters!

And  so branding innovation is … sticking to the message behind the key trends, even if the trends unfold at a curious and unpredictable pace….

I spoke about many other trends within the keynote, particularly the impact of mobile marketing and moving into hyper-nice marketing. I’ll cover more of that later.

This is typical of the type of unique research I often do for a keynote. If you are interested in bringing me in to a leadership meeting at your corporate organization, feel free to give me a call!

A semi-regular report of search phrases on JimCarroll.com

A few weeks ago, I began using the Reinvigorate.Net simple, real time web analytics & heatmaps” service on  my Website.

I thought it might be of interest to put in perspective, on a weekly basis, some of the things that people have been discovering on my site. With over 1,100 blog posts full of insight and content, there’s a lot of information in there!

So here’s the 2nd version of ‘search phrases’ that people were using this week — and the Web page on my site that the search engine directed them to.

Listed first is the search phrase; next is the page that they ended upon at my site.

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