There are many paths to growth: which is right for your business?


WoodsChange. It’s a word that can send shivers down one’s spine but one we like to embrace. Why? Change represents possibilities. We’re living in a time of rapid change, and with our deep understanding of consumers and the marketplace, The Hartman Group recognizes there are many possible paths to growth.

In the past five years, we’ve closely monitored the dramatic rise of small premium brands (and the relative poor performance of conventional food and beverage) and substantial diversification of food/beverage procurement, including the new “fresh format” brick-and-mortar model and ecommerce 2.0 (e.g., meal kit delivery, food service delivery, subscription-based online food sales). The industry is also being transformed by tech industry investments in food and beverage companies and large CPG investments in entrepreneurial brands and creation of incubators or investment divisions. Finally, both consumers and the industry seem to be embracing innovative technologies (e.g., hydroponic produce, HPP-produced beverages and soups, vertical farms, plant-based substitutes for dairy and meat) related to food production and distribution.

Over the past five years, premium food/beverage has outperformed conventional in terms of YoY growth by a factor of 3-4x.

Premium Chart
This environment of change is testing every food and beverage company’s comfort with ambiguity, its intellectual and management flexibility, and its appetite for growth. Which growth path will achieve the greatest results depends on each organization’s history, portfolio, unique capabilities, strategic objectives and more. 

However, we see growth paths cohering into five general classes of activity related to learning from the premium end of the marketplace, which is driving almost all the growth:

If your company is not reimagining how it does all five of these growth activities, we believe you are not maximizing your chances of above-market topline performance. And Wall Street is increasingly concerned about outstanding topline performance.

Not coincidentally, The Hartman Group’s consulting expertise is now fully aligned to supporting growth through each of these five pillars. We have spent the past decade developing new-to-the-industry IP to support clients who want to pursue premium growth, including but not limited to: a biannually updated Premium Benefits Framework tailored to food culture as it really is, a Growth Matrix tool to identify pockets of growth in your operating categories and a proprietary approach to product attribute analytics that can surface organic growth attributes to fuel innovation work.

In the coming weeks, we hope you will continue to enjoy our marketplace insights and our “premium” point of view. We aim to challenge your assumptions and deconstruct conventional ways of doing business, all in the service of improving your results.

Let’s have a conversation about your path to growth


As leaders in the study of American food culture, The Hartman Group has been tracking how Americans shop for food since the 1990s. From one-stop shopping to multichannel shopping to online markets and click-and-collect, we continue to track consumers’ evolving perceptions, needs, habits and relationships with food retailers. New to the 2017 report is a special section on the expansion of the discount grocery channel, the emerging fresh-format channel and smaller-footprint retail formats.


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