Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NRA Show Recap

By Matthew Wall

Buzz around the NRA (National Restaurant Association) Show this year is mounting. In tracking hits on Twitter under 'NRA Show' we've counted over 650 Tweets in the last week. This speaks to the growing influence social media will continue to have on trade shows.

I love these shows and the people you encounter, the trends you witness. It is energizing to witness the way the industry comes alive. It is also important to note the way business is evolving in these economic times of strife.

My position with Findood.com has been allowing me the opportunity to connect with so many facets of the industry and literally connect with the heartbeat of the industry. I am continually enthralled at everything that is progressing and developing and I am surprised at how often undercurrents and trends in the industry will just jump to life and into the mainstream.

That said, below is our recap of the buzz, trends and news around the show. I've broken it into three categories (Social Media, Economy, Innovation/ Trends) for easy reference. Please comment below as well with thoughts and ideas, or things we may have missed.


Twitter and Blog Stats

As I stated earlier we have tracked over 650 Tweets on Twitter over the last week regarding the show. Also worth mentioning is the fact that over 3,500 blogs have been published about the show in the last week alone.

Social Media Marketing Presentation

Among the 65 presentations at the show, there was one that caught our eye, "Word of Mouth Marketing for Chains and Multi-Concept Operators." Although Findood could not be there, some others were. You can find a great review of what was covered done by ChicagoFoodies.com here.

Web 2010 and Social Media Ideas

I have personally found Robert Scoble to have some valuable insight on where we are heading with integration of social media in a companies web presence. He is starting a company called 'Building 43' which is for people who love the internet and the way technology is evolving. I am personally excited at the potential for him to give us great examples and insight into how mainstreet businesses will be able to generate business and customer loyalty through social media. He has written a great blog about the Web 2010 here.

He includes a great example of a yogurt shop right around the corner from the Facebook office called Fraiche, where tons of Facebook people go, and yet they have no social media presence to generate excitement among the people who frequent their shop the most. Give the blog a read, it is worthwhile.

Food Channel Blogs and Tweets Show

The FoodChannel.com has extensive coverage of the show on its website. It is actually an incredible amount of material and is done very well. Included below are links to several of their best pieces.

Top Ten Things Seen on Saturday
Top Ten Things Seen on Sunday
The Power of Viral Marketing (Blendtec)
Food Channel and NRA Show on Facebook


I was interested to see how the show would address the state of the economy and the impact on business. It was front and center during the Sunday Keynote session. Read about the session here.

Nations Restaurant News has also been covering this and you can see their article on the keynote here.

The move to online management and resources continued at the show. It seems that the newest technology out there has been online schedule management. One that caught our eye was Schedulefly.

Also take a read of this article by the Gourmet Retailer titled 'Coping with the Economy'.



Crocs was out showing their newest styles of work shoes, highlighting the ergonomic fit, comfort and slip resistance of the Crocslite material. They are also easy to clean. Find the article here.

Distilled Spirits:

One of the fasting growing trends (according to the NRA's What's Hot Survey) is definitely distilled spirits. More to come on this in some upcoming blogs as New York just formed a Distillers Guild this year. Findood has the privelege of being in close proximity to one of the hearts of this movement (Oregon now has over 20 Distilleries and Washington State will grow from 3 to 7 this year alone). The growth is quick and local distributors are beginning to carry West Coast Distilled products. Costco is also carrying (or will be soon) local distillers in Oregon and California which his sure to follow the path that wine has carved. Need Proof? Head down to the SE side of Portland next time you are there. 11 Distilleries within a 10 minute drive of eachother with bars like the Green Dragon exemplifying the value of offering local drinks to its customers.

What did we miss? Have comments on what we shared? Please comment below.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Jones Soda GABA gets back to Guerilla Marketing

By Matthew Wall

Jones Soda Co. launched its latest product in February of this year at the Expo West. Made with PharmaGABA, Jones GABA is set to extend its positioning with this healthy energy drink. Said to increase Focus and Clarity, GABA has become incredibly popular in Japan in the last decade. (www.jonesgaba.com)

“Jones GABA is a revolutionary, great-tasting beverage,” said Joth Ricci, chief operating officer of Jones Soda in an official statement. “It has a rare distinction in the functional beverage marketplace. Its benefits can be felt within five minutes and have been shown to last for hours. Jones GABA helps people feel more relaxed and focused, allowing them to perform at their peak.”

Health Mad describes the benefits this way: “As any psychology major knows, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is a key neurotransmitter that regulates brain functionality. Among other things, GABA is a natural calming agent.” (Health Mad: http://www.healthmad.com/Health/Jones-Soda-New-Drink.681357)

Having proven its success in Japan, Jones Soda is set to capitalize on the North American Market with its exclusive rights to PharmaGABA in drink form. Between 2004 and 2006, sales increased five fold in Japan reaching total sales of $122 Million US in 2006. (BevNet: http://www.bevnet.com/news/2009/2-26-2009-Jones_Gaba_released)

This is good news for Jones Soda Co. who reported year over year revenue decrease of 25% in Q1 of 2009. Promotion allowances and slotting fees increased slightly by roughly $150,000 and finished product case sales declined by 30% offset only slightly by the release of JonesGABA. (Food Biz Daily: http://foodbizdaily.com/articles/29224-jones-soda-co.-reports-first-quarter-results.aspx)

Jones Soda is well positioned to see GABA through and see large success. With the economy bearing down, carving out budget for new product promotions is difficult enough. But Jones has the leg up with their experience in Guerilla Marketing.

Here are a few things Jones is doing right:

Targeted Rollout: Pilots are beginning early spring on about 5 University Campuses to promote the benefits of Jones GABA in study, focus and clarity. Jones plans a product rollout at up to 40 campuses this year alone timing promotions around finals.

Brand Ambassadors: Jones has always had a particular knowledge of how to transform dedicated customers into Ambassadors. Students on University Campuses may be given samples to hand out. Also Jones Soda has already run a contest with Zooppa to spark viral videos featuring Jones GABA (view the winning ad here: http://zooppa.com/ads/jones-gaba/videos/job-interview). Finally with people like the producers at Fallon shamelessly shouting the benefits of Jones GABA, there is no way the product will find its niche (Follow the Fallon Blog here: http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/blogs/2009/05/we-get-stuff-jones-gabba-edition/).

Rollout in Canada is expected later this year. Currently the product is available at Metropolitan Market in Seattle. Make sure to try this product when you can. I enjoyed it, particularly the apple.