Mintel Has an Eye on Emerging Brands

Marla Commons, Vice President of Research for the Americas at Mintel, describes that market intelligence agency’s focus on startups.

Marla Commons Mintel

Packaging World:
Why is so much attention being paid to startups and emerging brands?

Marla Commons:
Startups are really important because that’s where we’re seeing some of the most exciting and disruptive innovations coming from. Disruptors like Beyond Meat, Monzo, and Halo Top have already had a huge impact on their own industries. And Big Business is definitely taking notice of these changes. In the U.S. alone, for example, big companies have lost $22 billion in consumer sales between 2011-2016 as consumers have bought products from smaller companies.

What are big brands doing as all of this unfolds?
So brands definitely understand that they need to be able to identify what the next big disruptive wave is going to be. Many larger businesses are already responding to this change by developing their own internal incubator programs and new venture capital funds as a way to change corporate culture, to break their own new product development cycle, and just be able to respond more quickly to the changes that are coming.

Can you provide a specific example of a well-known brand that has responded to this dynamic?
Kraft Heinz is a perfect example. They’ve developed Project Springboard as a way to identify new product opportunities for their own brands. It’s a best-in-class program that provides all the scale and expertise of Kraft Heinz to accelerate startups and emerging brands in the industry. At the same time they’re helping these companies, they get to stay close to entrepreneurs and to industry trends as well. As a whole it’s set up around four major consumer trends that are shaping the future of American Food: Natural & Organic, Specialty & Craft, Experiential Brands, and Health & Performance. Kraft Heinz is helping these brands leverage the scale and experience of a major food company while they still continue to run their entire businesses, from  marketing to everything consumer-facing.

Tell us more about what Mintel is doing in this arena.
We’re already working closely with startups, and with the new Project Scout initiative we’ll be getting even closer to this community. We’ll also be working with independent incubators as a way of  tapping into the larger startup community as well. And then using all this intelligence that we’re gathering we’ll be able to create really exciting profiles about the most disruptive startups out there. We’ll also be able to use this information and the insights we pull from it to figure out what trends these startups are tapping into. We’ll also gain insight into how they  anticipate disrupting the market and finally, in a long-term perspective, we’ll be able to provide an assessment of how likely it is that these startups will succeed in the marketplace.

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