Valuing consumer feedback, knowing when to say no – these are just some of the ways that Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies can bolster their position in an uncertain economy.
Onstage at Anchin’s “State of Food, Beverage, and Beauty” event, Brad Charron, CEO of organic plant-based protein bar company, Aloha, emphasized the significance of product excellence and genuine consumer appeal, and outlined how he gradually built a self-sustainable brand.
The event’s first panel covered financial growth, whether it be organic or through equity ownership, and the second offered social media tips and other strategies for growth from those who have done it incredibly well.
Featured speakers shared valuable insights and experiences from their entrepreneurial journeys, particularly in the challenging landscape of 2023.
“You’ve got to authentically know whether you have something to work with,” Charron said, highlighting the importance of having a product that genuinely resonates with consumers. Charron’s approach is grounded in realism and practicality, focusing on incremental improvements and strategic decision-making rather than chasing unrealistic goals. He advised against big, risky bets in business, suggesting instead that entrepreneurs focus on small, calculated steps that gradually build a brand.
With roots as a beauty columnist at The New York Times, Bee Shapiro founded and now leads a sustainable fragrance brand, Ellis Brooklyn. Her experience has underscored the complexities and challenges of fundraising, especially in a tight economic environment.
“Fundraising is not easy… it is such a big lift,” Shapiro said, reflecting on her extensive seven-month due diligence process.
Her journey illustrated the necessity of resilience and resourcefulness, particularly when navigating the turbulent waters of investor relations and business scaling.
The Power of ‘No’
Both panelists agreed on several key strategies for growing and scaling a business. A common thread in their discussion was the importance of making informed and strategic choices. They emphasized the need for fiscal discipline and the ability to say “no” to opportunities that don’t align with the company’s long-term vision or financial health. This approach is crucial, especially in a landscape where capital is limited, and every decision can significantly impact a company’s trajectory.
“Your job as a younger company is to stay in business,” Charron said. “You’ve got to say no to things that don’t make sense for you.”
Anchin’s Megan Klingbeil, a partner who works with the firm’s food and beverage clients and co-leads its beauty, health & wellness practice, moderated the session. She echoed Charron’s sentiments, citing that a common difficult conversation she has with many clients is deciding realistically whether retail and other opportunities should be moved forward, and carefully considering whether they can be supported financially and logistically. “When brands work so hard to get an opportunity, and then cannot deliver, it’s hard to overcome it. They may not get a second chance.”
Furthermore, Shapiro and Charron highlighted the importance of understanding and responding to consumer needs. They noted that in today’s rapidly changing market, staying attuned to consumer preferences and adapting accordingly is vital for survival and growth. Shapiro’s and Charron’s insights provide a roadmap for entrepreneurs navigating the complexities of business growth, emphasizing product quality, consumer understanding and feedback, strategic decision-making, and financial discipline.
“You have to have momentum, you have to have a reason to exist and have the growth ahead of you. But I also think that in this environment…the fiscal discipline really also help[s],” Shapiro noted.
The panelists’ experiences and advice serve as a valuable guide for entrepreneurs looking to thrive in challenging economic times.
In a second panel discussion, Joseph Cabasso from Mario Badescu Skin Care and Anouck Gotlib from Belgian Boys, a baked snacks company, delved into the intricacies of leveraging social media for brand development. Andress Blackwell, Executive Director at Whipstitch Capital, moderated the session.
Cabasso, president of a company that has been family-owned since 1967, highlighted the importance of authenticity in brand representation. His philosophy, “Be real. People want to know who’s behind the brand,” centers on genuine interactions and storytelling. Cabasso emphasized the importance of maintaining calm in the face of competition and focusing on connecting with consumers.
Doing What You Can
Gotlib shared a strategy focused on targeted social media presence. She advised: “Do what you can with your team, where your consumer is living. Don’t fall into the pressure of ‘I gotta do everything.’”
She stressed the importance of user-generated content and personal branding in elevating Belgian Boys’ social media strategy.
Panelists agreed on prioritizing product quality and actively listening to consumer feedback for cultivating brand loyalty. Cabasso described a hands-on approach, engaging personally with customer feedback to ensure quality and satisfaction.
“Don’t settle. Do not settle…your consumers [are] your biggest thing,” he said.
Gotlib emphasized continuous product improvement and echoed the importance of responsiveness to consumer feedback.
“You [have] got to listen to your consumer when they say, ‘this experience wasn’t great’ … and [you need to be] constantly improving,” she says. “There is nothing like someone saying, a mom, for instance, saying … ‘my kids left with a smile’. Nothing’s going to beat that … and that’s the thing our team tries to [strive] for every day.”
The panelists’ insights underscore the critical role of authenticity, targeted social media strategies, and customer engagement in building a strong, loyal customer base.
A Place to Showcase
In November, Anchin, a premier accounting, tax, and advisory firm serving the Food & Beverage and Beauty, Health and Wellness industries, hosted its “State of Food, Beverage and Beauty” event on Tuesday at the Hard Rock Hotel in Times Square, New York.
Participants included more than 100 brand founders, investors, distributors and others in the CPG ecosystem, and more than a dozen growing brands were able to showcase and sample their products, free of charge, to the community. Several brands had their logo featured in Times Square as a result of a contest for the event.
Anchin’s Greg Wank, Executive Committee Member and Leader of the firm’s Food & Beverage and Branded CPG groups, welcomed guests before teeing up two thoughtfully-curated panels.
The featured brands at the State of the Industry event were: Caswell-Massey; Dosso Beauty; Everyday Chemist; Hustle + Flo Wellness; Kin Euphorics; Mr Bing Foods; Naturally New York (GoodSam and Dirty Bean Chocolate); Niramaya; NOPALERA; Nourrir Drinks; Outstanding Foods; Popadelics; Real Cookies; Reprise Health; RIND Snacks; and Tru Enhanced Sparkling Water.
All ticket sales were to benefit (included) CPG, an organization devoted to the success of BIPOC CPG founders, and nearly all of the brands who showcased at the event are women-owned and/or BIPOC-owned businesses.
Anchin partnered with likeminded organizations for this event: Naturally New York, Project Beauty Expo, Whipstitch Capital, Force Brands, Propeller Industries and IDB Bank.