Brands That Create Relationships With the Consumer Find True Authenticity

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The consumer is king. And today’s consumer isn’t satisfied with the status quo. Products that meet every lifestyle, preference and personality can be found on the aisles of your favorite store or pages of online retailers, thanks to millions of CPG brands, both big and small, who are dedicated to fitting those unique needs.  

Sarah Michelle Gellar (famous for her role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Galit Laibow and Greg Fleishman joined this year’s Leadership Forum to discuss their growing CPG company, Foodstirs, a kid-friendly, organic baking mix brand, and how their previous experiences inspired their business.  

“The consumer is much smarter now and they know the delineation between spokesperson and co-founder,” Gellar said, speaking about her experience as a Foodstirs executive today versus her time as a celebrity spokesperson. “If I were going to step back into that world it had to be for something that I felt passionate about, that I had a hand in creating what the voice was, because I do have a voice and I wanted to be able to use it.”  

The session emphasized the need for brand authenticity in every aspect of the business, from making a product they’d enjoy with their own families, to communicating with their consumers in real time.  

“Having the courage and the confidence to be imperfect is how you build out these relationships,” said Fleishman. 

“We created a brand that we are also the consumers for,” Gellar added. 

But with constant newcomers shaking up the market, do brands today still have the same importance they once did? Jon Edwards, consumer insight expert with Accenture, lead a panel on whether brands still matter to today’s consumer. 

“Brands that are paying attention to consumer trends and what they want are staying relevant, and they do still matter,” said Kim Feil, chief marketing and strategy officer of Aspire Healthy Energy Drinks. “The ones that aren’t, aren’t. And there’s where opportunities come for brands like ours to really fit those spaces that are unmet.”  

In fact, according to research conducted by Accenture, brands matter more than ever, even to young consumers. 

“The millennial consumer and the Gen Z consumer want authenticity and they will pay more if they feel that a brand actually delivers that exponential quality,” said David Simnick, managing partner of Impact Driven Brands.  

Maintaining Consumer Trust in a Meme-Driven World 

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Photo: Max Elder

The digital landscape of 2019 is completely different than the landscape 10, five or even one year ago. Today, we face a rewarding, yet rocky path across the Internet where one muddled sound bite, mistyped tweet or viral meme can ruin decades of reputation building.  

Beyond missteps, brands are increasingly expected to be authentic, relatable and funny (thanks, Wendy’s and MoonPie) – without trying too hard and still maintaining trustworthiness.   

So how can businesses earn and keep consumer trust, in a second-by-second, tweet-by-tweet environment where erosions of trust are a constant threat?   

Max Elder, research director at the Institute for the Future, joined CPG’s top leaders at the 2019 GMA Leadership Forum to begin the discussion on how brands can remodel trust for today’s consumers.  

“Trust used to flow upwards to experts and authorities, but now it’s flowing sideways to strangers, peers and neighbors,” said Elder.  

As children, we were told not to talk to strangers. Today, thanks to Uber and Airbnb, we get into their cars and stay in their homes. Trust has dramatically changed, with mistrust shifting to politicians, reporters or others in power.  

But perhaps surprisingly, consumers are increasingly seeking authority from brands. Seventy-six percent of people surveyed as part of the Edelman Trust Barometer said that CEOs should take the lead on change, rather than waiting for the government to impose change — up from 65 percent the previous year.  

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb also joined the trust conversation and talked about his experiences working in the government, where trust continues to decline. But Gottlieb managed to buck that trend at FDA, taking a consumer-focused approach that earned him respect and a reputation for being the consumer’s regulator.  

 

“The best approach that I’ve found when you have major challenges, was to own them right up front. Be very visible with them, talk about what the challenges were very openly and candidly, and what the limitations were in terms of your ability to affect a good outcome,” he said.  

Trust and the perception of trust will only keep evolving in the years to come, and with that will come new challenges and opportunities that government officials, corporate executives and consumers will have to navigate. 

“The issue of trust was extremely important to the agency, and it was something that was hard to earn and very easy to lose,” said Gottlieb.  

Can the CPG Industry Guard Itself Against a Looming Recession? 

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Photo: The View from Wall Street. (L-R) Lauren Hirsch, Caroline Levy, Kaumil Gajrawala, David Palmer

Today’s headlines send mixed messages about the state of our economy. Wall Street is ringing alarm bells that a recession is coming, while the economy remains strong and unemployment remains low.  

“Beneath the headlines, we are prone to the business cycle,” Dr. Alexis Crow, lead of PwC’s global investing program, shared with Carolyn Tastad, president of North America global sales and executive sponsor of gender equality with P&G, in a conversation at this year’s Leadership Forum. “The good news is, with the long term patterns of demand, food is not going away, consumer products are not going away. So in many ways, this is recession-proof,” said Crow.  

That’s not to say the industry won’t be affected by a downturn. While it may not be hit as hard as some industries, tariff battles in China, Mexico and Canada create uncertainty and cost. Crow shared, “America, some people say, is a closed economy. It’s not.”  

During the View from Wall Street panel, Caroline Levy, senior beverage, household products and personal care analyst at Macquarie, expressed her thoughts on how CPG could prepare for a possible recession.  

“What I love about this business is that it’s so stable,” said Levy. “I do think we’re going to outperform most industries in a recession. I still think there’s room for products to dramatically outperform the competition with good innovation.”  

Innovation was frequently cited as differentiating companies that stand out to investors. The companies that win are ahead of the new consumers: younger Millennials and Gen Zers who may not own a home or have children, but place a high value on wellness and social responsibility. New products like hard seltzers and plant-based proteins are rapidly growing, to serve this demographic that is committed to a cleaner diet and planet.  

“What we see now is a shift moving anything to do with social responsibility into the office of the CEO,” said Crow, as she made the point that CSR initiatives are now top priorities for leadership. “It should also be in the office of the CFO and the CAO, because the increasing indicators to which this is linked to positive firm performance means you can’t afford to ignore it.” 

The discussion turned to how small disruptor brands and large legacy companies are competing in the same space for those new consumers, helping to drive innovation — and complicating profitability — even further.  

“These smaller brands, the market will support them not making money for a long period of time,” said Kaumil Gajrawala, managing director of beverages and HPC at Credit Suisse. “They can stay unsustainable for very long periods of time and their goal is to be unsustainable in order to sell for the highest price possible.”  

He joked, “What you need to do is make no money, sell a concept and that’s how you become a billionaire.”  

For the Future of Packaging, Impatience is a Virtue

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Photo: Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle, at Leadership Forum 2019

“The big elephant in the room is that all of your packaging is already recyclable.”  

Tom Szaky, founder of TerraCycle and believer that all things – even cigarette butts – are recyclable, took to the stage at Leadership Forum today, where he told the CPG company leaders in attendance that the real question was not if their packaging could be recycled, but when it would be practically recycled.  

“When” was a constant question throughout the series of sessions focused on packaging sustainability. The impatience in the room was palpable. Because time is running out.  

Omnipresent and impossible-to-forget visuals of the Pacific garbage patch and whales bloated with plastic have changed the environment. “Plans to get things done by 2030 is too far away to get things done,”shared Recology CEO Michael Sangiacomo. “People are concerned, and there’s going to be a backlash.”  

We are at a crossroads in the U.S. on recycling – but most Americans have no idea. 74% of Americans believe that all or most of their recycling actually gets recycled. But China’s National Sword policy changed the economics of recycling, seemingly irreversibly. Unfortunately, to-date, the only solution in practice has been cutting back on recycling across the country.  

“Politicians look at labels on trash and assume that the name on the label must be the problem,” said GMA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “They are flailing to deal with the issue and defaulting to the lowest common denominator instead of thinking through and understanding the issue.”  

Szaky spent most of his talk on solving the root causes of packaging waste. He boiled it down to the value of packaging, simply stating that if the cost of sorting and processing is greater than the material value, it is set up to fail. He added, “If you make the package from solid gold, you would never have an issue.” 

While packaging isn’t going to move to solid gold, it may be moving to a much sleeker, modern look. TerraCycle’s Loop initiative aims to move to a new model – that’s really an old model. Returning to the “milkman” approach of the 1950s, Szaky envisions a world where the packaging is a selling point for manufacturers, making packages more durable and opening opportunities to entirely re-design packaging for the products we use every day. 

How that model shows up for Loop is in reusable packaging that is durable, practical and beautiful. Tide or Clorox wipes that are, as Szaky says, “counter-worthy.”  

Across the industry, CPG manufacturers are making major commitments to using more recycled materials in their packaging. But there isn’t anywhere near enough supply to meet the demand based on the targets set by many of the companies in the room. “We’re off by an order of magnitude,” Szaky said.  

Coca-Cola is among the most vocal CPG companies about wanting to reuse their own packaging. CEO James Quincey said in Davos earlier this year, “We’ve done an amazing job, collectively, of delivering convenience to consumers. We’ve delivered fantastic-tasting products that are easy to buy, easy to consume. But we have not yet made them easy to recover and reuse.” 

Making the material easy to recover and reuse speaks to another issue. CPG companies use and need a lot of packaging. Much of it is single-use and ends up where it shouldn’t. But that isn’t a permanent condition – it’s an opportunity to fix a broken system, if the right industries join CPG in doing so.  

There are things that CPG companies can control. They can design packaging that is recyclable, slimmer or made from recycled content. They can use a different materials that are easier to recycle. They can choose to partner with TerraCycle’s Loop or other programs that move away from single-use packages.   

But they are limited. They don’t have control over the breakdowns in the recycling system. They can’t go into the homes of consumers to ensure they are recycling properly (or at all). They can’t make the patchwork of local rules more streamlined or easier to understand. They can’t change the profitability equation for waste management companies.  

“If we want to make a difference, there has to be shared responsibility,” said Meghan Stasz, GMA’s vice president of packaging sustainability.  

As Szaky said at the beginning of his talk, most packaging is already recyclable. But walking away from this session, the unanswered question is if that packaging was designed on wrong assumptions. Coast-to-coast, recycling systems are accepting fewer materials and recycling centers are shutting down in droves. Yet, packaging is designed with the assumption that there is a functioning recycling system for recyclable packaging.  

That assumption may be a mistake. If it’s a mistake, it’s a mistake that others are making too. Legislative proposals in the states and at the federal level that mandate recycled content or packaging recyclability assume a functioning recycling system will process those materials. Consumers have very little awareness of the changes because they are largely invisible to them, so they faithfully toss items in their recycling bin week after week, not knowing it may end up as waste.  

Are we going to allow this environmentally disastrous assumption to continue or solve for the system?  

The impatience in the room today proves a strong appetite for solutions – if we can get everyone to the table.   

 

How Gottlieb Won Over Hearts and Minds by Being Human

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When Dr. Scott Gottlieb’s nomination as the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was announced in 2017, there were skeptics. He was said to have a “fervor for deregulation” and critics argued that he would be a too close to the industries he was charged with regulating.

Fast forward just two years and Gottlieb has retired from the post having done the impossible: become beloved by industry, government and consumers alike for his aggressive leadership. His secret? A finger on the pulse of what builds trust, advances the public health, and the smart regulations that allow industry to keep delivering on it.

The role of FDA commissioner is no easy task. The agency is responsible for protecting public safety through the regulation of food, beverages, medicines, medical devices, tobacco, cosmetics and dietary supplements. The commissioner must be an advocate for everyday consumers and patients alike — a challenge that Gottlieb met with tenacity.

While many regulatory leaders shy away from social media, sticking to carefully crafted speeches and press releases, Gottlieb embraced Twitter as no FDA commissioner ever has before. Whether he was announcing policy changes, sharing updates during the government shutdown, or even helping a few healthcare reporters safely reheat Thanksgiving dinners, Gottlieb used Twitter to speak genuinely and become one of the most vocal members of the administration. His authentic approach to communications made him a trusted voice on everything from clinical trials to the efficacy of CBD.

The commissioner was known for many things – wearing skinny jeans, keeping chickens in his backyard, Valentine’s Day poetry – but it was his policy decisions and leadership that demonstrated his keen understanding of consumer trust and the agency’s public health mission.

It was shocking in Washington that Gottlieb would be guided by principles that work for people, not political ideology. He spoke out on the cost of medicines and pushed for competition to help bring drug prices down. He went after the epidemic of teen vaping. He championed food safety. He worked to bring cell and gene therapies to market faster.

In short, Gottlieb worked in the best interest of people, not Washington. As he told Politico, “I am not measuring myself against what [other agencies] are or aren’t doing, or looking at what the regulatory zeitgeist is in Washington.”

Gottlieb was competent, effective and human in his approach as FDA Commissioner. While he may have left FDA, he also left behind an example worth following.


We look forward to hosting Dr. Gottlieb at the 2019 GMA Leadership Forum, where he will share his insights about the role of a regulator in establishing consumer trust, as well as how consumer products companies can operate in ways that build trust.

Through inspiring and insightful content, the GMA Leadership Forum elevates the industry by strengthening those who lead it. It will be held Aug. 14-16, at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For more information, view the 2019 program agendaRegistration is open now.  

What George and Judy Jetson Got Right

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Think back to 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. You might have envisioned a future straight out of an episode of the Jetsons, filled with talking alarm clocks, robot housekeepers and flying cars. And although we haven’t mastered transportation via vacuum tubes just yet, a lot of the show’s far-out future isn’t too different from the world we live in today. Siri can set your morning wake up while your Roomba glides around the house, all before your Keurig brews your favorite morning latte. Today’s cars offer basic autonomous driving features like automatic breaking and lane assist and drones can be utilized for aerial camera footage and package delivery alike. The world is moving ahead at rapid pace, with innovation in tech leading the way.

We spoke with Ben Arnold, senior director of innovation and trends at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), for a look at how technology is transforming the way we live and interact with each other. Arnold provides his insights on how companies can stay ahead of new technologies to meet the consumer where they are.

The Smart CPG Evolution

As CPG companies tackle the ever-present challenge of smart innovation, Arnold expects “a new focus on solutions for the home” to be the next wave of opportunity for smart CPG.

“I think opportunities for CPG brands will emanate from the race to make every room in the house smart,” Arnold said. “Whether the solution is a digital assistant that notifies a consumer when it’s time to replenish the snacks in the pantry, or a product like Whirlpool’s WLabs Smart Oven that uses artificial intelligence to automatically detect how long and at what temperature food inside it needs to be cooked, I think we are on the cusp of a significant innovation cycle that will give consumers new capabilities in the kitchen.”

Hey, Alexa…

Technology plays a bigger role in our homes than ever before, so much so that even two-year-olds know how to ask smart speakers to play their favorite song. This in-home connectivity will only continue to grow as devices are able to do more for consumers. Video doorbells, smart thermostats, Wi-Fi security cameras, smart lightbulbs and more all aim to make life better and more convenient for the consumer.

As voice assistants develop, their capabilities won’t be limited to only voice commands. The Alexa Guard feature has the ability to recognize the sound of glass shattering during a break-in or smoke alarms going off. Many smart home devices are working on ways to detect emotions in speech. Soon, the sound of an empty bottle of dish soap could trigger your device to suggest you place an order for more.

“As digital assistants amass these learnings, they will become even more effective as shopping assistants. Over time, the smart speakers in my house will know how frequently I buy certain products as well as the brands, retailers and types of promotions I favor,” Arnold said.

The Jetsons of Today

The future of CPG is closely tied to the future of tech and to stay ahead of the curve, the industry must embrace new technology while still being accessible to consumers and simplifying their lives.

“It’s important for companies to localize large, macro trends in technology to understand how they will impact their specific businesses,” Arnold said. “My advice for companies that want to embrace new technologies is to stay on top of industry developments. The biggest strategic trends my team at CTA is focused on are 5G and artificial intelligence. We consider these ‘ingredient technologies’ that will impact consumer tech products, but also everyday life.”

In many ways, technology today surpasses the Jetsons’ vision of the 21st century. Our world is connected and fast paced in ways the creators of George and Judy could only dream of. And with even smarter AI on the horizon, Arnold believes this will have a major impact in the future of CPG.

“These devices are laying the groundwork for a more connected household consumer. There are opportunities for CPG brands to integrate themselves into these new experiences,” he said.

To hear more from Ben Arnold, join us at the 2019 GMA Leadership Forum where he’ll lead a discussion on how technology is transforming the way consumers interact with brands.



Through inspiring and insightful content, the GMA Leadership Forum elevates the industry by strengthening those who lead it. It will be held Aug. 14-16, at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For more information, view the 2019 program agendaRegistration is open now.  

Image: Scott Williams, CC BY-SA 3.0

Doing Business Under the Wall Street Microscope

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The long-awaited Uber IPO has made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange on the heels of its chief rival, Lyft, which went public in March but has struggled with investor skepticism since its entrance. Uber has moderated its valuation in the wake of Lyft’s performance and has been seeking to rehabilitate its image on its IPO roadshow.

The drama of the ridesharing IPOs is the latest Wall Street soap opera and evidence of the microscope under which public companies today operate. That microscope is a stark reality for the CPG industry, where 45 of the 50-largest companies in the industry are publicly traded.

In the era of 24/7 media coverage, fake news and Twitter whiplash, it is a challenging time to be a publicly traded company. Couple that with regulatory demands, responsibilities to shareholders and the ever-present threat of activist investors, it’s enough to make any company question if the opening bell should toll for them.

Twitter as a Market Mover

Elon Musk’s Twitter account is Wall Street’s yoyo. The Tesla CEO boasts 26 million followers and a penchant for moving markets within character limits. He nearly caused a riot when he tweeted last August that he had funding secured to take Tesla private. The SEC opened an investigation the next day, ultimately landing on a settlement that forced Musk to step down as Tesla’s chairman for three years, required public statements — tweets included — about the company to be screened by legal, and heaped $40 million in fines on both Musk and Tesla.

It doesn’t have to be the CEO or anyone officially involved with the company to cause a stir. On April 23, 2013, the Associated Press Twitter accounted tweeted, “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.” Though the tweet was quickly denounced as false and the result of a hack, it sent markets reeling. The Dow plunged and the S&P reportedly lost more than $136 billion in market cap. They were quick to recover, but evidence of the volatile nature of Wall Street.

It’s Tough to Play the Long Game on a Quarterly Basis

The playing field is different for public companies. Small utterances by C-suite leaders can lead to a near-instant change in stock price — for better or worse. In 2014, HomeAway CEO Brian Sharples hinted at more aggressive marketing tactics to compete with Airbnb. The company had only been public for three years, and Sharples may have been caught off-guard by the reaction. Within days, J.P. Morgan downgraded HomeAway’s stock; shareholders worried that the cost of a marketing campaign would eat into margins; and bankers that operate on a quarter-to-quarter schedule weren’t willing to be patient.

“Here’s the issue about being a public company: If you’re private, you just make a decision. You don’t have to tell anybody,” Sharples told Inc. “If you’re going to telegraph decisions, analysts need numbers to plug into their models.”

The stock ultimately recovered, and the marketing campaign won HomeAway a coveted CLIO award, but it was a bumpy ride to learn that playing the long game needs to be carefully messaged and throwing Wall Street for a loop has consequences.

Some companies have opted to retreat from the publicly-traded eye. Michael Dell famously took Dell Inc. private in 2013 to get out of the Wall Street spotlight. A year into his decision he shared in Wall Street Journal, “Privatization has unleashed the passion of our team members who have the freedom to focus first on innovating for customers in a way that was not always possible when striving to meet the quarterly demands of Wall Street.”

Dell is once again on the New York Stock Exchange, after five years away to innovate, but time away gave perspective that is undoubtedly serving the company now.

Innovation is Dead. Long Live Innovation.

There is an established belief that once a company goes public, innovation slows. Where an appetite for risk and an eye on long-term growth used to take center stage, the company’s focus shifts as it manages to quarterly earnings reports and accurate forecasting. While not true at many public companies, it’s reasonable that the myth gained traction. Kodak developed the world’s first digital camera but couldn’t get approval because of fear it would cut into its film business. Blockbuster failed to see the potential of an innovative startup called Netflix for fear of changing its business model and profitability.

Conagra is one bright spot when it comes to public company innovation. CEO Sean Connelly recently told CNBC’s Jim Cramer, “You have to innovate every single year and execute every single year.”

The company — home to iconic brands like Healthy Choice and Marie Callender’s and emerging brands like Angie’s BOOMCHICKAPOP and Udi’s — recently acquired Pinnacle Foods, and with it, the Birds Eye line that is allowing them to capitalize on the plant-based movement. It is also looking to personalized digital and social channels to reach new demographics. It has proven to be a smart strategy — Conagra stock is up more than 40% year to date.

“Brands are evergreen but only if you infuse them with modern attributes,” said Connelly. “Our focus is making sure these brands resonate with young consumers.”

Without a focus on innovation, short term success will be just that — short term. Although Dell has returned to being a public company, what Michael Dell shared during the company’s private hiatus rings true. “We need to find ways to get out of the destructive cycle of nearsighted decision-making and focus on a future that is far beyond the next quarter or fiscal year or election,” he wrote in Wall Street Journal. “In this fast-paced, uncertain time, one thing is certain: If we aren’t the ones inventing the future, someone else will be.”


In a conversation moderated by CNBC’s Lauren Hirsch at the GMA Leadership Forum, Kaumil Gajrawala and Caroline Levy, two veteran CPG sector analysts and Wall Street watchers, will share their views on the market, the challenges facing branded CPG stocks and the road ahead.

Through inspiring and insightful content, the GMA Leadership Forum elevates the industry by strengthening those who lead it. It will be held Aug. 14-16, at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For more information, view the 2019 program agendaRegistration is open now.  

Welcome to the New Era of Celebrity-Backed Brands

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Fortune favors the bold and, increasingly, the many celebrities who’ve made the leap into the CPG industry. Famous names are moving from stardom to startup brands with startling success — and it’s time to take them seriously.

Celebrity brands are nothing new (think George Foreman Grills and Trump Steaks, to name a few) but their ability to compete in the CPG space is. The market landscape is shifting, yielding hypercompetitive share to celebrities with a dream and the money and fans to back it up, and it’s a phenomenon that’s here to stay.

Forbes just named Kylie Jenner the world’s youngest self-made billionaire. Her three-year-old company — Kylie Cosmetics, famous for its lipstick and liner duos — is valued at more than $900 million. With just seven full-time staff and little overhead, Jenner does much of the company’s heavy lifting on Instagram, converting influence into income by advertising to her 128 million followers on the platform. On the launch of her products in Ulta beauty stores last November, Jenner told Forbes, “I popped up at a few stores, I did my usual social media — I did what I usually do, and it just worked.” The launch bumped sales to $54.5 million in six weeks.

Welcome to the new era of celebrity-backed brands, where stars aren’t just endorsing products, they’re taking a seat at the board room table. They are bringing an inspired, unique approach to consumer brands — informed by years of building their personal brands.

The success stories are growing in number:

  • Actress Jennifer Garner joined Once Upon a Farm, maker of organic food cups and pouches for kids, as its chief brand officer in 2017. The company is serious about growth, bringing in CEO John Foraker, the former CEO of Annie’s, and recently receiving a $20 million Series B investment.
  • Actress Jessica Alba’s Honest Company was founded on the star’s desire to provide simply labeled, transparently sourced home and baby products. Seven years later, the brand represents more than 100 consumer goods sold in more than 17,000 stores in America.
  • Sean Kane, former Honest Company president, has now moved on to become co-CEO of Hello Bello, another organic baby-care startup founded by celebrity couple Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. The duo says they launched the company to make organic and plant-based products affordable choices for parents. The brand rolled out in Walmart stores last week.

These brands aren’t flashes in the pan. This surprisingly effective combination of cause-inspired, dedicated stars and enough venture capital and fan following can be the perfect recipe for star-studded brand success.

Look no further than Foodstirs as a case study for cooking up a successful business. Sarah Michelle Gellar, the 90s scream queen known for her roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I Know What You Did Last Summer, launched the premium baking mix brand in 2015. Gellar approached the venture with the aim of disrupting the existing status quo.

“When we started to research the category, we saw that it was a seven-billion-dollar category that was being dominated by these older brands that had an 80 percent market share,” Gellar told Forbes. “We thought that was interesting because as a consumer we know what people are looking for. We decided to take the leap and try it.”

The products have now been sold in more than 15,000 stores nationwide.

The evolution of the celebrity brand has brought hands-on business leaders who are doing far more than slapping their name on a label. As Gellar told CNBC anchors of her involvement in Foodstirs, “I think it goes to show that I’m not just the face of a brand.”

How will this new era of celebrity brand success shake up the CPG market? Join the debate at GMA’s Leadership Forum, Aug. 14-16 in Colorado Springs, where we’ll feature top celebrities who’ll explore how they’re fueling upstart brands and what fame means for consumer loyalty.

Stay tuned for our celebrity reveal at gmaleadershipforum.com.



The GMA Leadership Forum will be held Aug. 14-16, at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For more information, view the 2019 program agendaRegistration is open now.

Reimagining the Leadership Forum: By Manufacturers, For Manufacturers

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This year’s Leadership Forum marks a major shift at GMA. We are committed to doing things differently so we can connect and develop CPG leaders and empower industry growth.

We are an important, impactful industry and we deserve a conference that speaks directly to us.

This year’s “By Manufacturers, For Manufacturers” is more than a tagline. It’s a promise to create an event that is authentic to CPG — our challenges, our opportunities, our future. It’s a chance to come together to solve problems, to stretch our thinking until our brains hurt, and to be not just ready for the future, but ahead of it. Through inspiring and insightful content, we will elevate the industry by strengthening those who lead it.

For us, this is much more than a conference. It is evidence of the reimagined organization that GMA is becoming. We’re looking at what’s now, what’s new and what’s next in the CPG world, with a bias for content that will:

  • Embrace new voices. We’re not content to hear ourselves talk. This year’s agenda includes an honest exchange with our critics to ask them, point blank, if they could change one thing about our industry, what would it be? Understanding the opposing narratives will help us find a better way forward. We’ll also explore how celebrity names are fueling upstart brands and how fame affects consumer loyalty.
  • Redefine consumer relationships. From serious questions about the changing relationship between consumers and brands in the era of income inequality and wage stagnation to sooner-than-you-think technologies that threaten to limit your access to the consumer, we’ll dig into market-shaping trends.
  • Grow as a force for good. We are a purpose-driven industry, working to create a more sustainable, socially conscious world every day. Together, we’ll discuss the balance between activism and authenticity in brand messaging, and how packaging speaks volumes about your product before it’s even opened.

We guarantee you will leave with practical, forward-looking insights that empower you, your company and the broader industry to grow. When the 2020 Leadership Forum opens, it’s our goal to have you bragging to your colleagues that you were there in 2019 when everything changed.

We’ll see you in Colorado Springs.



The GMA Leadership Forum will be held Aug. 14-16, at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

For more information, view the 2019 program agenda. Registration is open now.