The 2.6 second sales window and the rise of on-the-go products: Marketing guru gives insights for food marketing in the mobile era


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Chris Cornyn, DINE
Chris Cornyn, DINE

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Food product marketers have less than three seconds to grab consumer attention, and need think back to the old days of products in supermarket circulars to connect with consumers in the mobile era, says a leading marketing guru.

Chris Cornyn, founder of food and beverage marketing agency DINE​, has worked with brands like Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Starbucks, and Mrs. Fields Cookies, and could recently be seen as a judge and mentor on TV in Lifetime’s ​Supermarket Superstar. He will also be a speaker at FoodNavigator’s Food Vision 2014​ event in Cannes on March 31 to April 2 (click here for full details​).

Speaking with FoodNavigator-USA this week, Cornyn said: “With the mobile era and buying groceries online, traditional marketing doesn’t work anymore. In the past we used to get the supermarket circulars in the newspaper, with these teeny tiny images of the products. It’s difficult to recognize the products. It’s the same paradigm with mobile. Marketers must ask how they made their product stand out on a circular. It needs to be iconic in shape, form, and color.

“We are going back in time on a couple of things,” ​he said. “We used to have milkmen who would deliver fresh product to your door, but that declined as big supermarkets took over. But now, with Amazon Fresh and similar retailers, we’re going back to the milkman.

“We need to think back to the old ways of communicating. It’s the same skill set, but the delivery is modern.”


Cornyn keeps his finger firmly on the pulse of new product development, and says that there was not really one product launched in 2013 that he would consider truly disruptive. “I noticed that there is a demand for affordable premium – Products getting an upgrade, like condiments or popcorn. Another is people looking for alternative forms for a sleeping category,”​ he said, “like a broth concentrate in a mayo-type squirt bottle.”

In terms of big trends, he said that while convenience and health will remain strong, he sees great potential for on the go products. “I’m starting to see really good food popping up in places it never appeared before,”​ he said. “I’m seeing really good food in convenience stores and vending machines.”

Supermarket Superstar

Fresh from judging Supermarket Superstar, Cornyn said that the show succeeded in its mission to put a finished product on the shelves of supermarket giant A&P. The overall winner of the show was Tekisha Collins from Indianapolis with her Smoogy Cookie, an ice cream cookie sandwich available in lemon, strawberry, and banana flavors.

So did he learn anything during his time on Supermarket Superstar? “Part of what I do is to package a food product and understand what that takes,”​ he explained. “What I don’t do is how to sell to a supermarket buyer. [Through Supermarket Superstare I’ve learned] how difficult that is, and how whimsical some buyers can be. You’d think the decision would be more financial or scientific, but there are far more variables than that.”

And in terms of capturing attention of consumers or buyers, Cornyn said that the packaging is vital. “So many entrepreneurs focus on what’s inside, but the packaging is the product. It grabs attention, it educates, it builds an image, and it reminds.

“The packaging must stop the consumer as he or she passes, sell them on the product, and compel them to put it in the shopping cart. You cannot taste or touch the product, you can only decide based on the packaging.”

The show also exposed the industry, he said, pulling back the curtain to reveal how the industry creates products. “It showed that it is not an easy thing to do,”​ he said.

“The amount of people who want to get into the food industry is endless, because everyone has a family recipe or some dish they think they make better than anyone else,” ​he added, “but they have no idea how challenging it is.”

Food Vision

At the upcoming Food Vision 2014​ event in Cannes, Cornyn will delve into the challenges of the two-step ‘stop-and-sell’ process – how to capture attention and ‘close a deal’ in the supermarket shopper’s 2.6 second sales window.

Other topics he will cover include:
• How consumer appetites are changing as ‘convenience’ and ‘health’ compete for supremacy

• Disruptive marketing for disruptive products – how capturing the consumer zeitgeist can open up new categories

• What can go wrong? His ‘delicious disasters’ will show how bad marketing can kill good products

For more information and to register for the event, please click here​. 

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