Learnings from NATCHCOM: digital meets natural

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Nico Brooks speaking at NATCHCOMTwo Octobers was at NATCHCOM last week, the premier (and only?) digital marketing conference for natural brands. I got a chance to share some ideas about metrics and marketing strategy, but mostly it was a chance for me to listen and learn.

First impression? I loved it! As an enthusiastic athlete, vegetarian and eater of food, I’ve been an avid consumer of natural products since forever. While I was mostly there to learn from industry experts, I felt very much at home. My very first job was at the Concord Spice & Grain, a really, really long time ago. I learned at NATCHCOM that the Spice & Grain was part of the “first-gen” natural foods movement. It was inspiring to hear the messages and feel the energy of the second-gen crowd.

Here are a few of my impressions and takeaways from the conference:

  • Natural foods is legit business. I heard various stats, but they all pointed in one direction: as consumers, we are being more thoughtful about what we eat and where it comes from. This is good for all of us, including innovative entrepreneurs.
  • “Regenerative” is the new “sustainable”. No, it’s better than that. Do we want to leave the world the same as we found it, or do we want to make it better?
  • Amazon is the 800-pound gorilla of retail. Whole Foods is the 800-pound gorilla of natural. Together, they are like an infinity-pound gorilla of natural foods retail. (800 + 800 ≈ ∞, right?) Amazon is leading a gradual trend towards food buying online, and their ownership of Whole Foods makes this especially poignant for the natural/specialty foods market. For better or for worse, a natural foods product strategy has to work with or around this behemoth.
  • We’ve been beating the online-influences-offline drum for a while, but it turns out offline influences online too!  Some smart folks from dirtyhands shared data on the offline landscape for natural foods, and the importance of in-store presence to the customer journey, even when it ends online.
  • There’s a bit of a gold rush happening in natural foods right now, and a few of the attendees reminded me of land-grabbers from Internet 1.0. However, most did not. For example, I got to chat with Dr. Onyx, who is all brilliance and heart. I heard many other stories of passion and the desire to have a positive impact.

There were a bunch of ideas buzzing around that I barely caught wind of, so this recap is far from complete. If you are in the natural products industry, I recommend going to NATCHCOM next year. If you are interested in getting a copy of my talk on accelerating natural products growth with digital marketing, or just want to connect, please reach out!

Nico Brooks is a fanatically-analytical principal at Two Octobers, as well as a wizard with a block of tofu. He reserves the latter for family and friends, but loves making new business connections if you are interested in the former.

Nico Brooks

Nico Brooks

Nico loves marketing analytics, running, and analytics about running. At Two Octobers, Nico is driven to build a culture where people with diverse perspectives, great communication, and no small amount of talent accomplish more than they ever could as individuals. Learn more about Nico or read more blogs he has written.

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