Friday, December 28, 2012

Campbell's Go Soup Events

On November 15, 2012, I had the opportunity to attend two Campbell Soup events in Chicago. Both events promoted the company’s launch of Go line of soups – the first soup designed for the Millennial generation. Everything about the soup – flavors, packaging, and marketing has been designed to appeal to 18 – 34 year-old consumers. At 10am, the company held a media event for Campbell Soup’s new Go line of soups. Following a short break, the company hosted local celebrities and consumers for the Campbell’s Go Communal Tables program.

At the media event, several Campbell Soup executives spoke to bloggers and journalists including Miss Lori (@misslori) and Jim Dudlicek (editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer). We had the opportunity to try six different soups including Spicy Chorizo & Pulled Chicken, Golden Lentil with Madras Curry, Moroccan Style Chicken with Chickpeas inside the beautiful Floating World Gallery at 1925 N. Halsted Street. Darren Serrao, VP and General Manager, Innovation and Business Development, talked about how the company assembled breakthrough teams that included chefs, research, package engineer, marketing, and R&D.

Charles “Chuck” Vila, VP Consumer and Customer Insights Department, spoke of how Campbell Soup wanted to design the Go soup to minimize pain points and maximize pleasure points (humor, music, gaming) of Millennials (numbering 65 to 80 million consumers). To figure out what Millennials want, the Campbell team “engaged in immersion with the Millennial generation: We cooked with them, we shopped with them, we played with them.” The consumer insights team went to hipster hubs – Boston, Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C., London. They also went to the less glamorous Millennial Middle America Markets: Des Moines, Iowa; San Antonio, Texas; Springfield, Illinois, and Little Rock, Arkansas.

They found that Millennials who “grew up with sushi and Mexican”, are “inspired by cuisine from all over the world”, and “want authentic taste, love traditional foods”. This generation also has “an incredible affinity for sharing food, dinner gatherings usually arranged by text”. The Go soup went through 50 iterations. End result: soups with bolder, spicier flavors and a microwaveable pouch instead of a metal can that features close-up photos of Millennials.

Nelson Warley, Senior Brand Manager, Start-Up, spoke about the marketing plan for Go soup. One key element are the Communal Tables which were held in New York City on November 13 and then in Chicago. The Communal Tables are “a way to connect with consumers and passion points” with key influencers coming in to talk. The core target are 25-26 year-olds who are “getting into workplace, highly social, craving adventurous tastes” Campbell Soup wants to provide “bold adventurous tastes that they seek when they are outside the store” – i.e., compete against take-out and fast casual restaurants.

Marketing goals include raising awareness through online advertising, content, and product sampling beyond traditional weekend times. Since Millennials are digital natives, the company decided to focus on social media and digital advertising instead of print and TV advertising to reach this group. Digital and social media initiatives include BuzzFeed (humor, custom content), Spotify (music, custom play lists offering $1 off coupons), Angry Birds and Star Wars (in-game advertising), Facebook, and Tumblr.

During the Campbell’s Go Communal Tables program in Chicago, five Communal Table sessions were hosted by local celebrities. Millennial consumers were invited on Facebook and Twitter (#CampbellsGo) to attend the hour-long, six-course sampling of the Go soups. In Chicago, the local influencers were Chicago Sun-Times’ Splash Editor Susanna Negovan, Second City’s Katie Rich, eDrop Off Founder Corri McFadden, jazz musician Milton Suggs and The Exports’ lead singer Archie Powell.

I attended the 12pm Corri McFadden (@CorriMcFadden) lunch. My group included a student who came in from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; fashion bloggers, and two entrepreneurs involved in social media. We talked about a wide variety of topics – entrepreneurship, value of hard work, fashion, reality TV (Corri is the star of VH1’s “House of Consignment”), and ramen noodles.

You can read even more about the inspiration behind the Go soup at

Disclosure: I received a gift bag with six Go soup pouches.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl Launch in Chicago

Reality star/entrepreneur/author/natural foods chef/mom Bethenny Frankel came to Chicago last Thursday to promote her new line of Skinnygirl vodkas. The star of "Bethenny Ever After" and "The Real Housewives of New York City" launched her company Skinnygirl Cocktails in 2009 and sold it to Fortune Brands' Beam Inc for a reported $120 million. An enthusiastic crowd of her fans (mostly stylish women including moms, a few men) came to pose for pictures with her

(they're on Skinnygirl's Facebook page). She talked about her life (daughter Bryn, her upcoming talk show "bethenny" on Fox, her apartment renovation) while making cocktails using Skinnygirl vodka.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Gourmet Chocolates at Walgreens

Chocolate fans visiting downtown Chicago have another choice beyond Macy's State Street lower level which carries a full line of giftable chocolates including its famous Frango mints. Walgreens on State and Randolph has a chocolate wall featuring gourmet chocolates like Chuao panko and firecracker bars, a chai bar, and Wild Ophelia New Orleans Chili bar. In the next aisle are the Hershey and Mars chocolates.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Das Fleur de Sel Caramels

Katie Das of Chicago started her company Das Foods to introduce gourmet and finishing salts such as the Hawaiian black lava salt. She still sells the gourmet salts but has branched out into Fleur de Sel caramels in unique flavors such as chili pecan, ginger pistachio, and orange & honey. Her company exhibited at the Good Food Festival in Chicago in March.

Wild Ophelia Chocolate

I had the chance to meet and talk to the founder of Vosges Haut-Chocolate and its new sister brand Wild Ophelia at the Good Food Festival in Chicago in March. Unique flavors in the Wild Ophelia line include Beef Jerky, New Orleans Chili, and Sweet Cherry Pecan. While Vosges is targeted for the gifting (and self/gifting) market with its gorgeous truffles in beautiful purple boxes, Wild Ophelia is geared for grocery stores and everyday snacking with its bar format. The company exhibited at the Sweets & Snacks Expo in May 2011 and is scheduled to be there again next week in Chicago.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Teen Beauty at Ulta

Ulta is adding more products for teens. The other day I saw displays of Bella Boo natural teen skin care line. Had never seen this line before. Below Bella Boo is the geoGIRL color cosmetics line that had its debut at Walmart stores. GeoGIRL uses recyclable packaging and ingredients such as chamomile, cucumber, ginseng, and she's butter. You can see the QR code at the bottom right of the display.

Behind this display you can see a glimpse of Burt's Bees gud line of fragranced natural bath, body, and hair products. Given the youth-targeted nature of the line, gud features QR codes on the back of its bottles where teens can get more info about the brand.

NYX Dark Shadows Palette

NYX Cosmetics has introduced a limited-edition Crimson Amulet Collection palette inspired by the May 11 launch of "Dark Shadows". The movie from Tim Burton stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Helena Bonham Carter.

The palette contains 24 eye shadows, 4 lip colors, 4 blushes, and more. Inside the palette are photos of three actresses from the movie and how to achieve those looks.

I found this for $25 at Ulta.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Housewares Show 2011 Photos

I'm looking forward to attending the Housewares Show next month. Thought I'd post photos from last year's show. Saw a lot of baby food machines and cooking tools for kids. Wonder what I'll see this year.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

First Post of 2012

After not blogging for several months before jumping back in December, I am planning to catch up on blogging this month. I have been quoted in several publications in the past few months so will start with blog posts linking to the articles. Next up is photos of stores that I took in December during the Christmas shopping season. Many of the stores - TopShop, All Saints Spitalfields - opened in 2011. Finally, will be posting photos of the new Walgreens flagship store at State & Randolph that had its grand opening on January 10.