Retailers know that Natural Products Expos are must-attend events to keep the pulse of innovation, but each year there are even more exhibitors on the show floor…and the same amount of time (or less!) to see it all. Pepper in your vendor meetings, and your time’s really at a premium.
What’s the key to cutting through the noise, finding what’s hot, and getting you closer to the information you’ll need to make assortment decisions? Check out a few tips on trendspotting and navigating the show here.
1. Plan in advance, and set mini goals.
Use the Expo app and website to map out your meetings and preview the exhibitor list and floor plan. Figure out which halls are close to your commitments and which ones are (and aren’t!) a priority. If you know your store is looking for the edge of innovation, prioritize the Hot Products areas. Need to do a deep dive on CBD? Hit the Hemp Pavilion first. Block out the time to do the most important things first, and set goals on the ground you’ll cover in a day (or morning, afternoon, etc.). And don’t forget about the talk tracks! Get a sneak peek at up-and-coming brands at Pitch Slam, or immerse yourself in the latest packaging innovation. Whatever’s important to you, plan for it!
2. Ask the right questions.
You know it’s important to visit the right brand booths, but how do you make sure you get the most value out of each brief interaction? Here are a few tips and sample questions to get a great conversation started – fast.
- Minimize the time spent talking about brass tacks. Of course you need to know about the retail price and case size, etc., but try not to spend too much time studying up on the things you can find later on the sell sheet, brand website, or in a follow-up email. Instead, take advantage of direct access to the people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their brand, what’s really unique about it, and the strategic role the brand plays in its category.
- “What’s new for this show?” Cut right to the chase to find out what the brand’s latest innovation looks like. And even if the brand isn’t launching something new at Expo East, chances are they’ll tell you more about their most recent addition to the line – or maybe even what’s in the pipeline for the future.
- “Can you tell me how you chose this ingredient/packaging option, etc.?” Get specific! Ask about how they formulated their recipe, chose to process their product, selected their label language or pursued a third-party certification, etc. Give the brand a chance to tell you what’s really unique and differentiated about their products in their own words.
- “Who would you say is your current consumer, and are you targeting other segments, too? How?” This can be a great window into a brand’s strategy and plans for the future. Get them talking about how they position themselves in the market, and you’ll probably learn a lot about the role they play in their category. Feel free to follow up with questions that are specific and relevant to your assortment!
3. Let SPINS help bring it all together!
We’ve put together a starter guide to the show floor, including a selection of brands and trends to keep on your radar. Plus, we’ll be sharing some of our favorite finds afterward, so make sure to sign up for SPINS’ newsletter so you don’t miss our post-show recap and webinar!
Access SPINS’ Guide to the Show Floor today!
Looking for a quick way to get started at Expo? Request a copy of SPINS’ Guide to the Show Floor for a directory of more than 70 must-see brands.
We hope to see you at Expo! Find out where we’ll be, and follow our social coverage HERE.