Executive chefs, food brand strategists and other customers I work with are all interested in presenting food in the most attractive and accessible way. In the process of helping them with food merchandising, I enjoy getting to know them and balancing their deadlines as well as their unique needs, including space, décor, and the product itself.
An advantage to working with food branders is the interesting insight they bring to a project. Sometimes a designer has specific products in mind, and other times there is a concept and we find the solution to bring it to life. One of the most noteworthy designers I have worked with in 20 years at Hubert is Rache Brand, a successful food brand strategist. Her creative yet practical approach has had positive results for consumer packaged goods, stores and restaurants.
Rache graciously agreed to let us interview her about her process and her experience working with Hubert to help her clients sell more food.
Q. Tell us about your experience as a food project consultant. What do you focus on and what is your process to make your clients more successful?
Rache: Clients are always looking for something better, but often they just need to rejig. As in most areas of life, change is not always greener, so I take what they are doing and alter. I like to refresh the concept and enhance one signature area to work harder for my clients’ bottom line. When that single element is performing better, then we start the real work and deep dive into the rest.
First, I spend a lot of time assessing the target audience through focus groups, surveys, and metrics to see where the problems are and how we can find solutions.
Next, I do an ideation session with senior leadership and operations to ignite opportunities. Then I sketch, craft and create a new strategy with ideas for all the tools. From there we develop and execute.
The last step is always measurement and we tweak as we figure out what works and what doesn’t work.
Q. What is it like for a food brand strategist to work with Hubert?
Rache: Hubert has been a brilliant asset to the development process and in some cases the strategy. As a consultant I rely heavily on my network to realize my ideas since I don’t have a ton of time in the day to seek and find solutions.
With Deron I have sent ideas early on in the process and we have collaborated together to figure out how to make my end-users experience the best it can be. When he didn’t have it in his catalog, we worked together to invent it and offer the client the opportunity for custom work.
Contact Hubert for visual merchandising ideas that turn passive lookers into active buyers.
Q. Your background has been helping food companies build new brands from the ground up and working with existing brands to increase their awareness with the public. Why is branding so important in food merchandising?
Rache: When it comes down to it, most food merchandising is the same with slight tweaks. A brand is in essence the root of the end-user experience and it doesn’t have to be a graphic or a logo to set that tone. Think about Starbucks and what it feels like to walk into one of their spaces. It is a certain lighting, music, seating style, floor and merchandising. The merchandising, from menu board to the gondolas, are consistent in organization, even if the physical unit and products are different. What makes it that way? The way Starbucks wants their customers to experience a space is the same branding from start to finish. They came up with a plan that speaks to an essence instead of a catalog of finishes and displays. But the baseline is always how that organization is managed especially with the small stuff like supporting smallwares and display units.
Q. What are the food trends you for see influencing your work that in 2016? Which ones are you excited about?
Rache: Wow – there are so many on the way! Some make me laugh and others are so contradictory. I see from a food standpoint health making its way into meals in unusual ways:
- Tumeric as a cheesecake
- Green juice as a salad dressing
- Vegetables being used in heartier ways
From a physical trend standpoint I see less as more, cleaner merchandising and less “farm” filled fantasy. Grocery is going to take a more posh London approach with simple stainless steel and white, convenience is going to streamline the sundries and replace with a grab n’ go reach in to support a healthier on-the-go fresh food program, and restaurants are going to stop working in contemporary vinyl and patterns that require five-year concept refreshes, and start thinking modern and sustainable with an 80/20 split (80 percent maintain, 20 percent refresh annually). Build for the future, not just for the moment.
Want to know more about Rache? Take a look at some of her recent work.
Hubert has been helping food retail and food service customers be more successful for 70 years. Contact us for food merchandising products and insight.