In January, we asked the Crafted team what they were most looking forward to and the answers centered around attending concerts again and traveling (internationally!) – all things that point to new adventures and returning to some sort of normalcy after nearly two years of pandemic-related impacts. And in many ways, 2022 didn’t disappoint. (Hello Harry Styles, Elton John, Bad Bunny, Mexico, France, Swiss Alps, and more!)
If we’ve learned anything, it’s a new year can throw us curve balls. We witnessed political unrest at a global scale, the fight against continued social injustices, and economic uncertainties that have made us all take pause. Looking at the headlines coming out of the tech industry alone has placed a layer of doubt for many on what to expect next year. Despite this, there were still bright spots in 2022.
Like many, we continue to be a remote workforce so our team can have both professional and personal flexibility. We also recognize the need to still connect, socialize, and have options to work outside of their homes, so we introduced DeskPass to our team for more freedom in how and where they work with access to coworking spaces across the U.S. Each team member also received an extra week of PTO in the spring – what we dubbed as ‘freestyle PTO’ – to reenergize and take care of themselves, however that looked to them.
This year we saw the return of in-person events. From reconnecting with consumer tech media at places like Pepcom and getting travel thought leaders on stages like Skift Global Forum, to engaging directly with consumers through activations like our recent food truck tour for Beef and Lamb New Zealand, it was good to see the rise of ‘in real life’ communication.
From helping our technology clients set record-breaking Amazon Prime Day sales to launching more than 20 products or services this year, consumers and professionals alike continued to evaluate and purchase products and solutions to save time and money, increase productivity, or to be entertained in new ways. Affiliate marketing remained a critical piece to any consumer product program, and an area we continued to invest in, expanding our agency’s capabilities and offerings.
Travel also had a big year. With consumer demand high, travel brands and destinations alike had to identify strategies to engage in authentic ways that aligned to new traveler expectations. Sustainability, along with inclusion and diversity, emerged as important decision-making factors for travelers, as identified in research studies we released this year for Expedia Group.
Influencers continued to be an effective way for brands to connect with younger consumers, with TikTok becoming a platform of choice. From tapping into #FoodTok to capturing the lifestyle that is iced coffee, we worked with many food brands to team up with influencers and outside experts to share recipes and lifestyle tips in new and exciting ways.
It’s also important to understand the pop culture trends shaping consumer behavior. Working with Plenty of Fish, we revealed that for those dating in 2023, it’s all about Main Character Energy, focusing more on yourself instead of those who aren’t meeting your needs. Also revealed was the desire around nostalgia for the 2000s, or ‘aughts,’ which, if you have a pre-teen or teenager, you’ve likely seen with the return of Crocs.
After nearly three years of our lives being turned upside down and our overall well-being taking a hit, it’s time to embrace a bit of that main character energy in 2023. Here’s to a happy and healthy, and most likely exciting, new year!
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“As the creator economy’s importance continues to grow, brands and agencies need to go beyond just listening to where audiences exist, but also how content influences consumer purchasing decisions.” – Chrissy Werner, vice president of marketing at Tubular Labs
Restaurants, Grocery Stores Battle Over Consumers’ Stretched Dollars
Restaurants and supermarkets are ramping up competition for Americans’ mealtimes, as consumers gird for a souring economy while food bills continue to rise. Many restaurants are promoting deals aimed at giving consumers more value for their dollars, while raising menu prices. Supermarkets are stocking more low-price staples and offering specials on prepared food targeted toward shoppers who are rethinking how many times they eat out each week.
Eating at home generally remains cheaper than dining out, with the typical restaurant meal costing 3.4 times as much as meals made using groceries, according to market research firm NPD Group. Inflationary forces that this year have driven up the cost of food, fuel and other necessities have pushed up price tags on grocery-store shelves at a faster clip than those on restaurant menus.
Grocers said they are promoting prepared food as an affordable alternative to eating out, while trying to keep prices low on staples including bread and cereal. Meanwhile, executives said consumers are continuing to buy more store brands for everyday-type items, and some are buying fewer amounts of higher-priced products like seafood.
Consumers Want Deals More Than Experiences This Christmas
Personalized experiences have slipped below bargains on holiday shoppers’ lists this season. This shift represents a sharp reversal in customer preference amid record-high inflation that has impacted the rising cost of living. As recently as May, over 65% of shoppers were willing to pay premium prices for a tailored retail experience. This trend has temporarily reversed.
According to the most recently published PYMNTS and LendingClub collaboration, New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report, Holiday Shopping Edition, when asked about which factors determine their choice of retailers, only 5.4% of consumers cited a personalized experience. This paled in comparison to discounts or sales (60.4%) and free shipping (48.3%) and was also exceeded by buy now, pay later (11.4%) and digital wallet options (9.3%).
Consumers’ growing demand for cost-cutting measures isn’t surprising. Overall inflation has risen 7.7% year over year, according to the latest Consumer Price Index published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The increased costs of goods and services across nearly all categories have stretched most Americans’ wallets: 60% of surveyed consumers currently live paycheck to paycheck, including 43% of those earning over $100,000 annually. With nearly 20% of respondents struggling to pay their monthly bills, there isn’t room for extras in many holiday budgets this season.
Amazon is Betting on the Future of Social E-Commerce by Launching a Product That Looks a Lot Like Tiktok
Amazon has launched a TikTok-style service that will let shoppers buy merchandise from a curated feed of photos and video. The new feature, called Inspire, will roll out to select U.S. customers in early December and go national in the next few months.
“In just a few taps, customers can discover new products or get inspiration on what to buy, all tailored to their interests, and then shop for those items on Amazon,” said Oliver Messenger, director of Amazon Shopping.
Amazon, which has long used static product images and descriptions to create a uniform catalog, has been trying to make it easier for shoppers to discover products rather than simply search for specific items. Despite these efforts, most customers don’t linger on the sprawling online marketplace. More than one in four Amazon purchases take three minutes or less.
What These Latest Consumer Affinity Trends Tell Us About Marketing in 2023
Consumer affinity across social media can reveal some surprising insights about how people shop and engage if they watch certain videos. Video analytics firm Tubular Labs recently expanded its artificial intelligence and consumer insights tools to analyze video categories and social audience behaviors across some 1 million topics and 11 billion videos across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch and TikTok.
Subject material ranged from food consumed at Super Bowl watch parties to instructions for hair extensions and showed a potential correlation to consumers’ shopping habits across other sites. Tubular also expects the influencer market to keep expanding, with 2023 projected influencer viewership hitting some 10 trillion views per month across all platforms. In January 2022, this was around 5 trillion views per month.
The popularity of videos is showing that social is becoming the new place for search — just ask TikTok. When people are looking for answers, they tend to seek out videos more rather than text, which marketers should keep in mind when identifying new audiences. Based on Tubular analysis of popular keyword searches, for instance, those searching for recipes were 204 times more likely to look for Green Giant products on Amazon.
Indoor Farming Challenges Rise
As 2022 comes to a close, the vertical farming industry has been hit with a series of high-profile closures. This news came as a shock to many given that, just last year, investments into the industry reached $3.66 billion. While there continued to be an influx of investment in 2022, the challenges to indoor farming rose faster.
Power is one of the biggest costs associated with running any kind of business, and it’s no secret that indoor farming has an energy problem. To produce year-round, vertical farms rely on artificial lighting and humidity control systems which consume energy at high rates. Even before the recent volatility in the energy market, the energy demand of these systems made the sustainability and viability of vertical farming extremely difficult.
However, industry experts still believe vertical farming has a place in the food system, can be more sustainable than it is today, and can be profitable when planned and operated responsibly. Getting the entire industry to rise to the occasion and reach its objectives will require much collaboration, benchmarking, and elevation of successful suppliers and business models.
Fresh is One of the Top Grocery Trends in 2022
Grocery Business highlighted many trends of 2022. One is the resurgence of foodservice as part of an overall comeback by the fresh departments—produce, meat/seafood, deli, bakery and floral. During the thick of the pandemic, supermarkets were compelled to shift some of their focus away from the main money-making store areas to the center store grocery sections as they battled supply shortages.
With much of that headache now subsided, supermarkets are again investing to enhance the perimeter—and with good reason. According to Kroger Chief Merchant Stuart Aitken, fresh is the top determinant of store choice, as 70% of customers base their preferred shopping venue on fresh offerings.
Online Sales of Health, Personal Care Categories Are Growing
Health and personal care will be the third-fastest-growing e-commerce sales category this year, growing 22.1% year over year, according to eMarketer’s forecast. Though only about a quarter (26%) of consumers said they cut back their spending on personal care items due to rising prices, according to CivicScience, almost as many (23%) said they began purchasing more private label items to keep costs down, per First Insight.
While there are signs of inflation easing, according to the Adobe Digital Price Index, digital prices of personal care products were still up 2.6% year-over-year in September, so it’s as important as ever to cater to deal-seeking shoppers.
This year, Amazon’s e-commerce sales of health, personal care, and beauty products will grow faster than any other category, rising 20.0% year over year to reach $32.59 billion. This represents 8.2% of Amazon’s total retail e-commerce sales. Additionally, eMarketer predicts retail health and personal care e-commerce sales will reach $114.49 billion this year, representing nearly 11% of total e-commerce sales. Next year, that will increase to 11.7% to total $135.59 billion.
Spray-On Packaging and Vapor Stickers: How the Fight to Curb Food Wastage is Turning to Science
Restaurants, grocers, farmers and food companies are increasingly turning to chemistry and physics to tackle the problem of food waste. Some are testing spray-on peels or chemically-enhanced sachets that can slow the ripening process in fruit. Others are developing digital sensors that can tell — more precisely than a label — when meat is safe to consume. And, packets affixed to the top of a takeout box use thermodynamics to keep fries crispy.
Experts say growing awareness of food waste and its incredible cost — both in dollars and in environmental impact — has led to an uptick in efforts to mitigate it. U.S. food waste startups raised $300 billion in 2021, double the amount raised in 2020, according to ReFed, a group that studies food waste.
“This has suddenly become a big interest,” said Elizabeth Mitchum, director of the Postharvest Technology Center at the University of California, Davis, who has worked in the field for three decades. “Even companies that have been around for a while are now talking about what they do through that lens.”
In 2019, around 35% of the 229 million tons of food available in the U.S. — worth around $418 billion — went unsold or uneaten, according to ReFed. Food waste is the largest category of material placed in municipal landfills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says rotting food releases methane, a problematic greenhouse gas.
Americans Waste Close to One-Third of All Food Purchases—the Equivalent of 1,250 Calories a Day. Here’s a Breakdown of How Bad it is.
U.S. consumers waste a lot of food year-round – about one-third of all purchased food. That’s equivalent to 1,250 calories per person per day, or $1,500 worth of groceries for a four-person household each year, an estimate that doesn’t include recent food price inflation. And when food goes bad, the land, labor, water, chemicals, and energy that went into producing, processing, transporting, storing and preparing it are wasted too.
Where does all that unwanted food go? Mainly underground. Food waste occupies almost 25% of landfill space nationwide. Once buried, it breaks down, generating methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Recognizing those impacts, the U.S. government has set a goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.
There is no single solution to this problem. Not all consumers will seek out or encounter opportunities to improve their food-handling skills. Meal kits introduce logistical issues of their own and could be too expensive for some households. And few U.S. cities may be willing or able to develop systems for tracking and taxing wasted food.
As marketers, our branding ironically often falls to the wayside. We are laser focused on our clients, often to the detriment of our brand. Much time and thought were put into who we were when the agency was formed nearly 9 years ago – but as we know, companies and brands evolve. Today, we’re thrilled to share Crafted’s new look and feel.
Our brand purpose remains steadfast – to improve lives and industries, move societies forward, and doing things better for the planet. Our brand voice is bright, thoughtful, and impactful. Our brand colors reflect our voice (shoutout to Simply Creative). And as we’ve been since our inception, we’re people first. Our team, our partners, and the vast audience of journalists, influencers, analysts, and end consumers we regularly work with and for.
The average tenure of our leadership team is 20+ years, with experience across nearly every multinational agency – and we touch every single client, every day. We’ve also brought in the best and brightest at every level, and learn from the bottom, up every day. Voices flow in all directions in our agency, with the knowledge that great ideas come from every one of us.
As we move towards a decade together, we could not be more excited about what lies ahead.
Publix Only Runs a Few Small-Format Stores, But They’re a Hit With Shoppers
GreenWise Market, a chain of small-format specialty grocery stores operated by Publix, has generated more foot traffic at every location in Florida throughout 2022 on a year-over-year basis, even as visits to the retailer’s traditional supermarkets in the state have consistently declined by the same measure, according to a recent report from data analysis firm Placer.ai.
Placer.ai found that GreenWise stores in Florida saw foot traffic rise 6.4% during September compared with that month in 2021 at the same time as traffic at traditional Publix stores in the state fell 3.9%. Shoppers also tend to stay longer in GreenWise stores than they do at standard Publix stores, Placer.ai found.
While Publix’s GreenWise stores look to be a hit with customers, the retailer seems to have reduced its focus on the alternative format at the same time it steps up attention on other avenues of growth, such as expanding its fleet of conventional grocery stores into Kentucky.
Publix currently runs seven GreenWise stores in its home state of Florida, where it has more than 800 traditional supermarkets. GreenWise stores, which typically occupy around 25,000 square feet, have a heavy focus on organic and prepared foods and are aimed at “health-conscious and gourmet foodies alike,” according to Publix.
Meat Sector Looks for Opportunities Amid Headwinds
Meat companies are facing significant challenges to the foundation of their operations, forcing companies to enact new strategies and production choices to drive growth.
Since taking office in 2021, President Joe Biden has directly targeted concentration in the meat industry, giving $1 billion in funds to smaller processors in order to spur competition. The U.S. meat space is projected to be worth over $200 billion in the next six years.
On the legal front, the federal government has taken aim at chicken, pork and beef companies by pursuing several price-fixing cases, although some were not successful. A group of chicken executives were found not guilty of conspiring to drive up prices in July 2022 after a years-long investigation from the Department of Justice and an unprecedented third trial.
Meanwhile, the sustainability of beef production has attracted intense scrutiny because of their high amount of methane emissions, which has led major providers like JBS to adopt more climate-friendly farming strategies, including regenerative agriculture and emissions-busting cattle feed additives.
Despite these headwinds, higher consumer prices for meat products have helped companies like Tyson to rake in significantly large sales. Yet, profitability remains an issue for the poultry giant, leading to heightened investments in infrastructure like automation in order to correct course.
Industrialized Meat Has Devastating Impacts. Can ‘Good Meat’ Exist?
There are dozens of factors to consider when designing a system where good meat exists. Good meat is not just meat that is made in a way that does not directly worsen climate change, although that is a crucial element. It must be good for all the other parts of the system too: the animals, the workers, the producers, food waste, land use, biodiversity, the nutrition, and health of the community around production.
Bill Gates, in his 2021 book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, suggests that everyone in wealthy nations should eat only synthetic meat. Far less meat should be consumed overall, and meat from cramped factories that pollute must come to an end. But the leading alternatives, meat and meatless, are still double the price of industrial meat, and meat from livestock that graze and rotate on pasture has a critical role to play in our future, if it can become more accessible.
A growing number of eaters have decided to go vegan. Others are experimenting as so-called flexitarians or reducetarians—opting to go meatless with mushrooms, beans, tofu, or often with an array of venture-backed brands. Yet another group is limiting their meat consumption to only the most ethical meat, like bison or certain operations with livestock raised on pastures under rotational management. Some of these alternative challengers show promise, but most are not set up to effectively make a dent in overall industrial meat consumption. A certain level of scale is needed to avoid a fate like the past decade of locavorism, which has barely affected the total annual volume.
Plant-based foods sales at grocery stores, according to NielsenIQ, hit $900 million in retail sales in 2020. These alternatives started considerably outpacing total food sales during the pandemic, with refrigerated alternatives like Beyond and Impossible surging 240% during the spring peak of meat panic buying. The bump outpaced animal meat sales, which started to decline.
Is Regenerative Agriculture the Future of Farming or the Next Greenwashing Fad?
How much can farming help tackle climate change? Could shifting to a variety of so-called regenerative practices (for example, rotating between different crops) enable farms to capture more carbon in soil? By one estimate, implementing the idea could sequester more than a billion tons of carbon per year globally, more than the emissions of the entire airline industry. In the U.S. alone, a National Academy of Sciences study estimated that farms may be able to sequester as much as 250 million tons of carbon per year, or 4% of national emissions.
The potential for regenerative agriculture, also sometimes called carbon farming or climate-smart agriculture, has spawned a growing wave of support. Food companies, from McDonald’s to PepsiCo and General Mills, are pouring money into the space. Nestlé is investing more than $1 billion over five years to increase the use of regenerative agriculture in its supply chain. Consumer goods giant Unilever partnered with insurer Axa earlier this year to create a billion-euro private equity fund to invest in regenerative projects.
Additionally, the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act includes around $20 billion to support regenerative farming. Pitchbook estimates that startups in the space raised more than $700 million globally last year. Some companies are starting to help farmers sell voluntary carbon credits—certificates of greenhouse gas emissions reductions that other companies buy to offset their own emissions—even before there’s concrete evidence of exactly how much the amount of carbon in their fields has changed. And it’s now possible to buy “climate-friendly” crackers and “carbon-negative” beef jerky.
But as carbon farming grows, critics question whether it may be overhyped as a climate solution. Some scientists argue that it’s unlikely to achieve large-scale emissions reductions while others disagree. Estimating how much carbon is in the soil can be challenging, and arguably may not always be accurate enough for companies to sell carbon credits, which are often what is paying to transition to these practices in the first place.
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At many holiday tables across America, friends and family gather to share meals and tp what and to whom they are grateful. It is a beautiful custom, but like many, we know that gratitude should be expressed regularly. In the world of work, we are fond of saying thank you to our team, perhaps in wrap-up emails acknowledging great effort or to partners for their collaboration – but probably not often enough.
Crafted was founded nearly nine years ago when two former clients took the plunge with us and allowed our company of two employees to take root. Fast forward, and we are now a team of 15 servicing unique brands worldwide. This team is full of intelligence, intuition, brilliance, creativity, empathy and humor. We have grown together – and with our partners – to be at the top of our game.
As a team, we’d like to thank our partners, from the bottom of our hearts, for working with a small-by-design firm that works tirelessly to garner the results you deserve. Thank you for collaborating with us through all that life and business throw our way. You allow us to grow with you through messaging and strategy sessions, creative brainstorms, trade shows, conferences, content development, experiential events, and media relations. We are eternally grateful for the great compliment you could give us – allowing us to support your business objectives – and we, in turn, will do everything we can to help you succeed.
Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday.