By: Alexandra Goff and Bridget Litzinger

From seaweed snacks to beer-flavored jellybeans, the 2015 Sweets and Snacks Expo was a Willy Wonka display of confections and savories; four acres of on-trend delights from the farthest corners of the globe. What were the key takeaways for Kaleidoscope designers in attendance? Our top six:

  1. Standout brands communicate with verve!

    It’s all about knowing what’s top of mind for the audience. Tradeshows like this one attract a business crowd, so learning their language and using your booth to tell a compelling story is both meaningful and motivating. The best booths have a point of view. Show attendees take notice and remember you. So how do you differentiate in a sea of saturated, heavily cluttered booths? With a clean, white background, bright pops of color and targeted messaging.

  1. Be relevant and connect.

    IMG_0774 copy 2Minions were planted throughout the show. Tic-Tac had an entire display case dedicated to the character, along with new “Minion Tic-Tac” products. With “seasonal” a growing confectionery category, Tic-Tac did a great job of showcasing a whole set of own-able characters for Halloween and Christmas. And with a nod to digital, Ferarra featured a “TrolliMojis” App. An attendant demonstrated how the Emojis function, encouraging people to take photos with some of the props presented in the App. Great examples of brands competing to stay relevant, innovate and connect.

  1. Use social media and special events to build buzz.

    Social media is a powerful way to foster interaction with the master brand – and with product offerings. You create industry buzz and increase your chances for prolonged engagement post show. For instance, Wrigley had a photo booth with NFL Bears player Matt Forte who posed for pictures with attendees and gave them signed posters. The promotion brought to life the sponsorship between Skittles and NFL in a lighthearted way. Attendees are already anticipating what to expect at next year’s show. A great way to add Wrigley to their list of “must sees” each year.

  1. Flavor innovation is the name of the game in 2015.

    IMG_0775 copySours, coconut, sriracha and watermelon – in soda, punch, beer, liquor and candy. While we didn’t see huge swings in product function or form year over year, we did see a push to expand upon flavor offerings within existing product forms. Wrigley played up their sours expansion in a big way with an introduction to their booth declaring “The Year of the Sours”, and posing the question to their audience “Are you Sweet or Sour?”. Wrigley carried this Sweets vs. Sours story throughout their space, featuring key scale brands like Skittles, Starburst, Lifesavers, and Juicy Fruit. We also saw flavor innovation through co-branding; from A&W to Johnnie Walker flavored candies and chocolate, big brands were leveraging familiar flavors in this way.

  1. Beef Jerky and all manner of gluten free snacks are here to stay!

    Entire booths and aisles were dedicated to this offering. We noted that flavors and formulas are expanding to include non-traditional variants like salmon, chili, herb and citrus. There was no way attendees could miss this category. Mascots were on full display, from guys riding bikes around the booth to giant Sasquatch mascots walking the show. The Beef Jerky people would not be ignored! A good reminder to competing brands—show them what you got!

  1. Expand your impact beyond the show!

    Why limit your story to a once-annual tradeshow event? Consider all the work that went into creating a story around your booth. Top brands ensure that their messaging is consistent with the corporate brand voice. This makes it easy to extend into different media channels throughout the year. The reward? Strategy alignment and buy in from partners and stakeholders.