Consumer Packaged Goods Archives – Varsity Branding

Category: Consumer Packaged Goods

At our 30th weekly sales and marketing roundtable, communities shared out-of-the-box, socially distanced ideas they’re using to get people to campus.

Find out how to make these ideas work at your community by checking out the recap below.

Please join our next roundtable discussion on Thursday, October 22, at noon ET.

For login information, please contact .

I’ve traveled all over the country to attend senior living conferences. Last week, I had one of my  favorite event experiences. It was just three minutes from my home in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

At most conferences, the locations change, but the same pain points keep coming up. Issues include staffing headaches, leadership transitions and ever-changing regulations. However, at the recent 2019 LeadingAge PA Annual Conference & EXPO, themed “Own Your Future,” speakers raised some new and different questions. These questions could dramatically impact the future of aging services. In case you weren’t able to attend, I wanted to share them with you.

  1. Are smart speakers in communities breaking the law?

That’s one question you may not be able to ask Siri or Alexa. Even so, every community should be seriously considering it. As more and more providers (and more and more residents) plug in to voice assistant technology, the more potential legal and regulatory conflicts they face. For instance, allowing a resident to be audio-recorded without consent (which smart speakers do) violates both HIPAA and state wiretapping acts. Is smart technology always such a smart idea? In this fascinating presentation, Larry Zook and Cynthia Haines made the case for putting strong policies in place to deal with this new technology. 

  1. Why do for-profit developments move so much faster than nonprofits?

For-profit senior communities can be built in 12–18 months, while nonprofits often take 3–5 years. What accounts for the faster speed to market? In a peek inside the for-profit world, Maura Richards of Wohlsen Construction and Jamie Spencer of SilverBloom Consulting broke down the reasons.  They included vetting based on market feasibility, no need for pre-sales, a focus on rentals and availability of equity. Can nonprofits find ways to speed up their own development process?

  1. How can we extend housing solutions to the middle market?

As a field, we have options for people with significant resources. We also have housing  for people with extremely limited resources. But those in the middle? They’re often left without good choices. Research specialist Sara Marcq, banking professional Lynn Daly and architect Craig Kimmel discussed new models coming to market — including some for-profit rentals — to fill these unmet needs.

No, I didn’t take three flights to attend LeadingAge PA or visit an exotic locale. After the show, I got in my car, made two lefts and a right and arrived in my own driveway. This shows that a conference really isn’t about a place but about people. It’s people coming together to share their knowledge, in the hopes of improving life for older adults.




When we’re working with a client on a potential brand position, we ask three questions: Is it true? Is it unique? And is it compelling? All three of those qualities need to come together for a brand to work its hardest. In previous posts, I covered true, unique and compelling in detail. A quick recap:

  • True: The claim you’re making must be true. Otherwise, people may try your product—but they won’t buy it again. Some examples of brands that didn’t live up to their advertising: the Ford Edsel, Surge soda and WOW Chips.
  • Unique: The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) first discussed in the ‘40s still holds true today. It’s critical to find something that makes your product truly different. It’s all about that one promise that no one else in the market can make.
  • Compelling: Last but not least, if a proposition is true and unique, but not compelling to customers, they won’t be moved to act. How can we be sure our promise is on track? Research. Research. Research. We should never assume we know what consumers think before checking in with them.

True. Unique. Compelling. The right brand position will be all three.

It’s a good week for “timeless female empowerment.” Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy, Rose, Baddie and Mylie are all in the spotlight.

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At Varsity, we’re major fans of the Golden Girls, and we’ve covered their innovative living situation in a previous blog post. That’s why we’re so excited about the news that a proposed Legos set featuring the groundbreaking ’80s sitcom is moving through the review process. The project, created by longtime “Golden Girls” fan Samuel Hatmaker, has now gathered 10,000 supporters, which means it qualifies for Lego review and has a chance to be produced. The story was all over social media and got picked up by USA Today, TVWeek, Ellen, Huffington Post and other news outlets.

Another ageless female also received a golden opportunity. On April 6, DimepieceLA, a chic street-style fashion brand, announced that 86-year-old grandmother Baddie Winkle will be featured in the new Dimepiece “state of mind” campaign. On the Dimepiece blog, the company announced, “Our brand has always stood for timeless female empowerment and continues to encourage this mindset in our latest campaign.”

Baddie has 745,000 Instagram followers, and one of her biggest admirers is Millennial megastar Miley Cyrus. Miley is such a huge Baddie fan that she photoshopped herself into one of the Dimepiece pool-site fashion shots and posted it on her Instagram page. Here’s to powerful females of all ages.


“Once upon a time…” The phrase takes many of us back to our childhoods. It brings back memories of snuggling under the covers as a parent told us a bedtime story, or sitting cross-legged on the classroom floor as the teacher read out loud. We listened raptly, wondering where the story would take us next. Even as adults, we love stories and the journeys they take us on. It’s stories that grab our attention and keep it.

Consumers love stories, too. They enjoy learning about the history of a company and where it is going next. In college, I learned about the marketing concept “what’s in it for me?” and how important it was to answer that question through storytelling. That was close to 25 years ago, and the idea remains as strong now as it was then.

Our culture has been handed down for centuries through the oral tradition of storytelling. It’s in our nature to tell stories. People love to relate an anecdote when friends ask them about a purchase they’ve made. So, if you share a story about your own product with your customers, you’ll reap the benefits of having it passed on to others. This process is how a good story can grow and develop a life of its own.

Creating a story about your brand is a great way to let your customers know who you are and what you stand for. It’s through this narrative that you gain their interest and, more importantly, their trust. It doesn’t need to be some huge tome, telling them every little thing about your brand. It just needs to be enough to give them a taste, make them want more and, most importantly, help them remember you and your product.

In addition to my career in advertising and marketing, I’ve spent the last 15 years making and selling my own artwork. My customers love to hear the story behind each of my pieces. Even if they don’t buy anything, I tell them the story about my studio name. I can’t tell you how many people come back and say, “I remember you and that interesting story of how your studio got to be called ‘Kerensamere.’”

In this digital age, one might think that storytelling is dead, but that is simply not the case. If anything, storytelling is prevalent in our society now more than ever. Online videos are a great example of storytelling. It’s amazing how one well-crafted video can tell so much in such a brief time. Make it a good one, and it goes viral. Next thing you know, everyone is telling your story for you.

Not everyone is a good storyteller. Back in the Middle Ages, communities relied on bards to come to town and recite stories. Not just anyone could be a bard; it took a certain skill. It’s kind of like the difference between a person who’s good at telling jokes, and one who isn’t. If it’s not told right, the joke falls flat. You don’t want this to happen with your own brand story. That’s where hiring the right team can make all the difference in how well your story is told and retold.

Crafting and presenting your story is a skill that comes with practice and insight. You need to understand your own brand as well as your audience. What is it that you want people to know? How do you get them to care about your story? This is where hiring a team like Varsity comes into play. We pride ourselves in our ability to create brand narratives that tell your story to the people you want to hear it and get them to repeat it for you.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Rite Aid Offers Incentives to Customers wellness 65+ Pharmacy chain Rite Aid recently launched the very first drugstore loyalty program for consumers age 65 and older, appropriately named wellness65+.

wellness65+ builds on the company’s successful wellness+, a free customer loyalty program. wellness65+ includes one special savings-day per month, and 24/7 access to a pharmacist. Members who purchase more also become eligible for greater discounts and additional wellness benefits, such as a gym membership.

The integrated marketing campaign features interesting clips of seniors who engaged actively in various activities such as water-fighting with grandchildren and swimming laps. A full-page ad running in AARP The Magazine shows an older woman on an amusement park ride with a child, with headline copy that reads, “Here’s to suddenly remembering where laugh lines come from. Feeling and living your best. Rite Aid is committed to helping you realize it, with exclusive, new benefits for seniors.”

Rite Aid also launched a 30-city bus tour to promote the program. At each stop, the company will partner with local senior organizations to host community wellness events, including free health screenings, seminars and pharmacist consultations.

Is it working? The company reports that wellness65+ had more than 25 million active members as of the end of the first quarter of the current fiscal year. Those program members also generated 77% of non-prescription sales and 70% of prescriptions filled in the same time period.

MARKETING INSIGHT: This program was probably a reaction to competition from other chains and large retailers like Walmart and Target, who offer discount prescription programs. But Rite Aid obviously sees the benefit of targeting Boomers and seniors – no doubt a large portion of their existing customer base.

Along with this loyalty program, perhaps the next step is to use customer information to develop mobile marketing plans for pharmaceutical products and prescription management, for example – something that would appeal to tech-savvy Boomers. Increasing the size of its senior patient base will also allow Rite Aid to provide additional services (like immunization and medication therapy management) to a demographic that will benefit the most from those services.


The Varsity Team

Boomer and Senior Healthy Eating Moves to the Snack Aisle Here’s good news for Boomers and seniors who like to snack: Apparently, you’re increasingly looking for items that help you stay healthy and active – something we uncovered in our own research, and now verified by the food manufacturing industry.

Milk producer Fonterra North America studied the snacking habits of more than 600 healthy Americans between ages 50 and 75 and found that more than half believe the ability to stay active has a greater impact on their health than their weight, although 30% also said they already have weight issues.

Fonterra also found two extremely polarized schools of thought when it came to those cravings. At one end of the spectrum, a large number of “unwavering indulgers” knows they have health issues and shouldn’t pick up that Twinkie, but they do it anyway. On the other end are three snacking segments who are active and willing to make real changes in their diet to stay healthy:

  • Active Seekers (16%) – They’re the active, nutrition conscious ones who are more than willing to make changes to their diet for health benefits. Think 70 year-old marathon runners.
  • Health Seekers (22%) – Not quite as active, but generally follow healthy trends and are willing to make some dietary changes. Think on-again-off-again dieters.
  • Open-minded Moderates (20%) – They’re the followers and are somewhat health-conscious but don’t have the discipline to keep up with a health program. They also try to eat well, but aren’t always able to. We’re surprised this percentage isn’t higher.

In general, Boomer consumers are looking for products higher in protein, and adding high-quality dairy protein to foods they’re already eating will be the easiest way to drive consumption. The meal most lacking protein and posing the greatest opportunities? Breakfast.

MARKETING INSIGHT: Manufacturers and commercial foodservices marketers, take note: Since this demographic is split on the benefit of taking pills, your industry will no doubt become the solution to some of these issues and trends as many would prefer to ensure their health through their diets. For those of you in the senior living industry, now is probably a good time to introduce healthy snacking options and education into your foodservice or wellness programs.

After years of excess in the realm of food, mature consumers have common concerns, and are taking a stand to control their diets. And as more and more people in this demographic continue their careers and postpone retirement, their reliance on unconventional, mobile-friendly meals and snacks will only increase.


The Varsity Team

skincare anti aging products Less than two years ago, analysts were predicting the market for anti-aging products, services and innovations would grow to more than $114 billion, thanks to increasing demand from Boomers and seniors.

To uncover part of that demand, we need look no further than Project Looking Glass II. What does skincare have to do with senior services? On the surface, nothing. But in that study, many of our retirement community subjects were still in the workforce and planned to remain there. Apply that mindset nationwide, and you’ve got tens of thousands of potential customers who are still looking to maintain a youthful appearance to remain relevant in the workplace.

The analysts were right and wrong. While the market has indeed grown, it has become saturated, and the category’s main contingent consists of women over 55 who report being confused by the number of products as well as their claims.

The industry has responded (wisely) with a “stage not age” push, launching new products that address skincare beyond the physical signs of aging such as wrinkles, lines and age spots. New innovations include products that address skin needs due to changes in life stage – including hormonal changes. Yes, you read that correctly.

Manufacturers claim that decreased estrogen production associated with menopause or aging can affect the skin’s ability retain moisture or repair itself.

Anti-aging skincare products that address changing skin needs beyond just treating wrinkles may help to bolster category sales. Murad leads the way with its Resurgence® line, targeting consumers going through menopause. Vichy Laboratories collaborated with not only dermatologists, but also obstetricians, gynecologists and psychologists to understand how women’s hormonal changes impact the skin. Finally, Naterra International’s Phase+ line of skincare products is specifically designed to address the effects of diabetes, which tends to cause extremely dry, cracked skin.

It’s an interesting trend. And although it’s currently relegated to the high-end brands, experts are quick to point out that, given the competitive nature of the skincare industry, consumers will eventually see a lot of “me too” mass marketing.

MARKETING INSIGHT: The health and beauty market has always been a bit ahead of the curve, and they were early to realize the spending power of the mature market. Products that create unique positioning while addressing typical consumer concerns, as well as connecting a youthful appearance to workplace success are the opportunities.

Smart mature consumers already agree that lifestyle choices such as diet, sleep and exercise impact aging and its effects. However, products that speak to overall wellness, as opposed to just treating the physical signs of aging, could be winners.


The Varsity Team

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