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Ahead of the Sweets + Snacks Expo in Indianapolis—the ultimate meetup for CPG brands pushing the category forward—we asked our experts: what are the biggest consumer shifts driving change? And how can CPG leaders seize these opportunities for growth?

 

The Sweets + Snacks Expo begins in just a few weeks, where both new and established brands will showcase innovations across chocolate, candy, confectionery and savory snacks. To say the sector is changing rapidly is an understatement, as wellness and functional benefits continue to converge with food + beverage categories, and younger generations rewrite the rules of snacking—insisting that self-care, indulgence and wellness can all exist in one bite.

Snack brands that will win in this moment are already evolving to meet their consumers’ evolving views of indulgence.”

To get set for the trade show, we sat down with our experts, picking their brains on what’s changing most rapidly and the biggest opportunities for 2024 and beyond.

Meredith Post headshot
Senior Creative Director

MEREDITH POST

Meredith Post believes in being a force of nature. As Senior Creative Director at LPK, she helps brands unlock their ultimate value and guides teams to achieve new levels of creative excellence.

Meredith is a published author, thought leader and speaker, covering topics such as creative strategy, brand design and fostering a culture of creativity.

At LPK, she has worked with The J.M. Smucker Co. to evolve its iconic portfolio for changing consumer tastes, guided Anheuser-Busch AB InBev in modernizing legacy brands like Natural Light and Ritas, and built a digital-first skincare brand for Procter & Gamble.

VP, Discovery

EMILY FLANNERY

Emily Flannery’s driving passion is the intersection where now meets next. At LPK, she leads the Discovery practice, cultivating, guiding and evolving our approaches for clients, always with an acute focus on bringing them closer to their consumers and preparing them for change.

Emily holds a degree in Product Strategy from the University of Cincinnati, College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP), where she has also served as an Associate Professor and the honorary Head of Trend Forecasting.

Strategy Director, Product

DOMINICK MORTAROTTI

Connect with Dominick on LinkedIn

Kyle Schutte headshot
Director, Client + Category Partnership

KYLE SCHUTTE

Across complex categories and fast-moving industries, Kyle Schutte is focused on moving brands forward.

Kyle brings more than 15 years of deep expertise in brand transformation, new brand creation and consumer and customer strategy, namely in the categories of food + beverage, wine + spirits, and sports + outdoor.

At LPK, he has helped Gillette keep pace with fast-evolving consumer expectations, led Constellation Brands’ consumer journey work to sustain category leadership, and partnered with Acushnet on the modernization of Titleist, maker of the #1 ball in golf.

What’s the #1 challenge you’re helping your clients navigate right now?

“It’s a new era of snacking. From Ozempic to Gen Z’s prioritization on mental health, there are powerful external forces impacting how people see their ‘treat yourself’ moments. Snack brands that will win in this moment are already evolving to meet their consumers’ changing views of indulgence.”

Meredith PostSenior Creative Director

“Brands are needing to strike a very specific balance: navigating a marketplace that increasingly demands they focus and consolidate around their core, and a rising consumer base that craves portfolio diversification. CPGs need to solve for both.”

Emily FlanneryVP, Discovery

“Threading the needle between indulgence and health. Consumer preferences are changing: GLP-1 (appetite-reducing drugs) and health concerns related to cancerous ingredients are causing consumers to seek clean ingredients in all their indulgences.”

Dominick MortarottiStrategy Director, Product

“Product positioning and portfolio management. A lot of places make great products, and are extremely proud of their lineup, and have so much to say. But finding the message that resonates with the consumer and crafting individual product or sub-brand positionings is timelier than ever. Know your role within the context of your consumers’ lives.”

Kyle SchutteDirector, Client + Category Partnership
When a category is changing so quickly, it’s hard to know where to play next. Where would you advise CPG leaders focus budget in the year ahead?

“Tech-driven data and what we, as consumers, expect to know and demand from our products is growing. I would ensure that my brand is prepared for audiences that expect more: sustainable packaging (particularly the implications of the CA SB 54 legislation) and transparent supply chains.”

Dominick MortarottiStrategy Director, Product

“I would be focusing on M+A and portfolio master brand strategy. With the ‘venture capitalization’ of food CPGs, small upstarts are looking for an exit, or a lifeline to stability. Specifically, I’d seek out brands to acquire that have a fanatic consumer base, or add distinctiveness for an existing consumer target.

It’s also smart to invest in deep consumer ethnography, empathy maps and journey maps. These create a constellation of insights, revealing the fundamental needs and pain points of our consumers, regardless of brand. They can help leaders answer crucial questions: how do different consumer segments approach our product categories? What are the moments of truth that really matter and drive desire?”

Emily FlanneryVP, Discovery

“Taste and brand experience still matter as much as ever. My advice is to continue investing (and reinvesting) in product innovation, packaging design and overall craveability. The goal is: make my brand so irresistible, you have to try it.”

Kyle SchutteDirector, Client + Category Partnership

“There’s a fascinating tension between the demand for healthier snacking options and the unbridled maximalism of ‘goblin mode’ indulgence. Being able to honestly provide clean ingredients, and better-for-you claims while also delivering drool-worthy, delicious taste is incredibly hard to do. Emergent culture demands the best of both worlds: can you truly have—and market—it all?”

Meredith PostSenior Creative Director

Want to talk in more detail with one of our snacking experts? Or heading to Sweets + Snacks Expo and interested in a meetup? Just reach out to us here.

Claire Keys Pytlik

HEAD OF CONTENT + COMMUNICATIONS Claire Keys Pytlik believes in the power of voice, helping brands find, shape and amplify theirs to drive unimagined growth. She has led verbal strategies and creative content for B2Bs and B2Cs across diverse categories—from beauty to baby, food + bev to fintech, personal care to kitchen + bath. As Head of Content + Communications, Claire brings expertise in editorial strategy, brand voice, communications and storytelling. At LPK, she has helped The Clorox Company innovate for the future of cleaning and personal care, shaped offerings for The Delta Faucet Co’s next consumers, and built content destinations that propel leaders to the front edge of their categories.