Snack Foods

Rebranding Helps Tahoe Trail Bar Increase Visibility

A recent story published on focused on our branded packaging design work with Tahoe Trail Bars. We are thrilled to share their success!


Tahoe Trail Bars rebranded in time for summer outings

When current owner & CEO Wes King bought the recipe for the single flavor and rights to make the product in 2010, the nutrition, health & wellness category was growing exponentially. He realized it was time to get Tahoe Trail Bar introduced to a wider audience.

King reached out to Perspective: Branding ( for the rebrand. “We were struggling to be seen in the set (because of muted colors), and finding it difficult to convert sales because the features of the bar were not clear and our brand identity didn’t have the weight and punch of a separate mark. We decided to take the plunge into new flavors (which our customers were requesting), and take the brand as a whole ‘down to the studs’ and really capture who we are and what we are about,” he says. Continue reading here:

Originally published on on July 5, 2017.

Spreadable Chocolate: Nutella Alternatives Focus on Sugar


Some say you shouldn’t fix what’s not broken, but the spreadable chocolate industry begs to differ. We recently dug into the trend of single-origin chocolate, for example. Another part of chocolate’s continued evolution? Going from munchable to spreadable. Hello, Nutella alternatives!

Nutella is synonymous with spreadable chocolate. The delicious hazelnut spread has roots in Italy. According to The Food Channel, the company decided to boost its U.S. advertising back in 2011. And like a spark to a flame, the spreadable chocolate craze has, well, spread. In 2014, chocolate giant Hershey’s launched its own line of spreadable chocolate snacks, while the list of up-and-coming Nutella alternatives is growing.

A Nutella alternative might sound unnecessary at first, but consumers are growing increasingly wary of the snack due to its high sugar content. A jar of Nutella is over 50% sugar—a fact shared widely through a striking graphic showing the ingredients of Nutella in layers in the jar. (You can see it for yourself here.)

American Idol singer Kelly Clarkson was recently bombarded by online critics when she posted a picture of her daughter’s “first Nutella experience.” Some especially melodramatic trolls said she should be cited for child abuse—and it was just a bit of Nutella on a piece of toast! Regardless of whether you agree with the parenting police, it’s clear Nutella’s nutritional values (or lack thereof) has already seeped into public consciousness.

Hershey’s chocolate spreads aren’t any better; a 37 gram serving (about 2 Tablespoons) contains a whopping 19 grams of sugar (yep, that’s more than half sugar). But the name Hershey’s has always been associated with indulgence instead of health. No one’s ever mistakenly thought Twizzlers or Kit-Kats were good for you. A chocolate-hazelnut chocolate spread from Italy? A little less obvious.

And that’s where Nutella alternatives come in. Well, kind of. Another reason many shoppers turn their nose at Nutella is because the snack (like its Hershey’s competitor) isn’t vegan due to whey and milk ingredients.

Generally, though, packaging for Nutella alternatives has tended to focus on sugar content as opposed to vegan ingredients. The brand Justin’s—which first burst onto the scene with its vegan alternative to Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, now sold at Starbucks—also sells its own jars of chocolate hazelnut butter. While they’re vegan, the main messaging aimed at Nutella’s customers reads: “50% less sugar than the leading brand.”

Sugar grams are not overly advertised, as Justin’s also relies on sleek packaging design, but this verbiage is placed right next to the nutrition label, making it easy for consumers to see that Justin’s has dropped its sugar content from over 50% to just 25%. It will be interesting to see if such moves push Nutella to follow suit.

A more obvious dig at Nutella’s sugar-heavy formula comes from Go Lo Foods Dark Hazelnut Spread, which says in bold white letters on the jar: “100% less sugar than Nutella.” (The product does contain erythritol and chicory.) That math is pretty simple because…well…Go Lo’s product is, technically, sugar-free (erythritol is a sugar alcohol). Meanwhile, another obvious play on the Italian spreadable chocolate king comes from Rawtella, which—as the name and packaging make clear—is both raw and vegan. (The product contains coconut sugar.)

Considering the overall popularity of spreadable chocolate (and its flavorful variations), it’s no surprise that healthier, vegan alternatives are in-demand. But it’s also clear that criticism of Nutella’s nutrition is growing, meaning marketing strategies for spreadable chocolate will shift accordingly.

Snacking Faux Pas – What your Mother Never Told You Could Kill You (Not)

Kid snack foods, snack manners

In earlier articles, I’ve explained that Americans are, on average, snacking more and that as Americans snack more, their snacks are taking on the nutritional characteristics of meals. It matters not where you eat your food – in the car, at your desk, or in front of the TV – manners, nay, snack manners, are important. And they are important for kids as they eat kid snack foods, too.

In my house, the family sits down to dinner together every evening. This is important family time, a time when the kids share their news of the day and lessons are reinforced. It is a time to focus on each other, and share the social experience of a meal.  The social component of this small ritual, this daily event, has innumerable benefits, including improved academic performance, eating more nutritious foods, and boosting vocabulary. And manners.  Don’t forget manners! Here are a few rules of the road for snack manners.

Rule #1: If You Drop Something, Pick it Up

Kids drop things. I know, hard to believe, right? Kids drop things all the time. Even the most perfectly portioned, ideally packaged, one-handed snack-meal will get dropped by your child. And by you. Picking up after your child is a feature of any caregiver’s life but the littles also need to understand why picking up dropped snacks is important. Tidiness is part of the equation but perhaps the bigger part is what you are teaching a child if the dropped item is left behind. It’s careless and with every dropped snack, beverage container, or wrapper, your neighborhood park or soccer pitch or community center pool is left a little bit messier. I still pack wet wipes, mostly for wiping off faces and hands but they are ideal rags for cleaning up these spills and drops. And if no garbage can is immediately accessible, pack out what you pack in.

Rule #2: Don’t Eat and Run

I mean, literally, don’t give your kids food while they are on the move. The spill multiplier shoots through the roof and it is an instant choking hazard, no matter how old you are. Sit down; preferably at a table and in a chair. Pause. Open your snack-meal. Pause. Look at your snack-meal. Pause. Inhale. Pause. Engage with your snack-meal. It’s always ok to eat alone but meals are designed to be social events that connect us. They are times of relaxation. And food of any kind, convenient or otherwise, should be treated with the respect it deserves. Honor it for what it gives you and your body. And be thankful you have enough of it to eat each and every day.  If you give kids one social grace, let it be respect for their daily bread.

Rule #3: Chew with your Mouth Closed

It’s an oldie but a goodie – no one wants to see food while it is being digested. No one really needs to eat and talk at the same time but in our maniacal, multi-tasking society, we must be slackers if we are only doing one thing at a time. No! Scratch that idea. The only way to truly enjoy your snack-meal is to savor it. Close your mouth, then close your eyes. Chew. Listen while those around you talk. All that chewing not only aids digestion and helps prevent upset tummies but the food stays inside. A closed mouth means no leaks, spills, or flying objects. And it reinforces Rule #2.

Snack Manners are Forever

The locations where we eat has expanded beyond the table but the rules of the road are basically the same. The table manners you likely learned growing up still apply in today’s on-the-go snack-meal culture. Pause. Slow down. Savor. And explain the value of manners to a child. Your family and your community thank you.

What Gamers have Wrought: TV Snack Brands

premade healthy meals are designed for watching TV and gaming

The TV dinner is so….last century. The very idea harks back to a time when Americans cherished sitting down at a table for three square meals a day. In that context, a TV dinner can be viewed as a step towards America’s current snack culture, a square meal designed for convenience as much as nutrition. As a community, Americans are moving through an epic moment when we snack as many as six times a day and eat smaller, less nutritionally complete meals. Snackers do not want a “considered meal,” something that requires a knife, fork and plate, to eat in front of a screen. Instead, they want a hand-held snack. A TV snack. A gaming snack. A texting snack. Food companies see the writing on the wall and are moving to create snacks that are not considered eats, that is, foods that do not involve utensils or plates or clean-up, but portable snacks that are as mess-free as they are stress-free.

TV Snack Brands

GO-GURT, known as Yoplait Tubes in Canada, was an early adapter to the one-handed eating phenomenon. Launched in 1999, just as cell phones became mobile devices with multiple functions, GO-GURT, a Yoplait Kids product, targeted the lunchbox crowd. A skinny tube filled with two ounces of yogurt was the perfect single-use snack size. Little kids, of course, manage to squeeze the yogurt onto themselves, but most adults are able to avoid this by not squeezing the tube too tightly.

Munk Pack’s new line of ready-to-eat Oatmeal Fruit Squeeze takes squeezable food out of the kiddie aisle. Perhaps inspired by the nutritional needs of backpackers, these are on-the-go snacks that are as easy to eat in the car, while toting a pack or using one hand to text. Remove the screw-top lid and squeeze. They even have a variegated bottom that allows the meal to stand on its own. Requiring no spoon to eat, this is a meal at its most convenient. A few squeezes are all that’s needed to eat. Fingers are kept clean. And there is no need to look down. Gamers can keep gaming. Texters can keep texting.

Walker’s UK Tear and Share bag riffs on the very British tradition of sharing a pint and a bag of potato chips with friends at the local pub. Simon Thorneycroft, Founder and CEO of Perspective : Branding, grew up in the UK and noted that “the chip bag becomes a sort of napkin at the pub. You tear back the front and use the inside as a sort of makeshift plate for sharing. Everyone does this.” Walker’s new bag has a creased bottom, that when “popped,” creates a little bowl. Structurally, versus a traditional chip bag, the Tear and Share bag stands up. It makes the snack share that much easier. You might need an actual napkin, though. And a beer to go with the chips.

Mobile Meals

These snacks all offer convenience, portability and portion control. They can be mobile meals or part of a larger meal. While TV Dinners offered more complete nutrition, today’s snacks have taken TV snack brands into the 21st century. Who needs a pre-made healthy meal with so many snacks to choose from?


Fancy Food Show 2017 Trends: Innovation in jerky flavors and regenerative agriculture practices

Meat snacks and bars are a food trend that we saw at the 2017 Fancy Food Show. Food journalist Christina Mueller gives us a unique perspective on some of the companies providing new and innovative flavors in jerky meat snacks and talks to EPIC Provisions about their regenerative agriculture practices.

National Snack Month says ‘buh-bye’ to Three Squares a Day

Snack Foods Packaging Agency cheese board

February is National Snack Month. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know that either until I started working on this article). Who knew that snacks needed their own month? Developed as a marketing and sales tool in 1989 by SNAC International, an industry resource group that “supports growth and relevance for the international snack industry,” National Snack Month was designed to ignite sales in a traditionally slow sales month. No biggie, right?

A lot has changed since 1989. Most notably, we have become a nation of snackaholics. The statistics are in and the news is this: snacking is more important than sitting down to three squares each day. (Take that, 1989!)

Snack Shift

How do we know that? Food Navigator told us earlier this year that “growing numbers of young people see no problem in swapping three daily meals for six substantial snacks a day.” And the Hartman Group’s The Future of Snacking 2016 report quoted in SmartBrief found that 91% of consumers snack multiple times throughout the day and that “snacking now accounts for half (50%) of all eating occasions as America’s consumers say that snacking is essential to daily nutrition.”  We spend over a billion US dollars a year on snacks and that number is expected to increase by $35 billion in the next five years. As a nation, the snack trend is pointing nearly straight up.

Some of these changes can be attributed to cultural shifts (we, as a nation, do not sit down to dinner together nearly as often as we used to) and some to the increased pressure on our time (with everyone working longer hours, who has time to cook anymore?).

Then there are the changes to the calendar. Along with Heart Health Month, Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and, more recently, the Super Bowl (until 2003, this game was held the last Sunday in January), February is now crammed with celebrations and snacking opportunities.

As a snack foods packaging agency, Perspective:Branding delights in these trends. They give us a reason to wake up every morning. But the trend begs a bigger question: do we still need National Snack Month?

Does Valentine’s Day Matter Anymore?

valentine heart candy

Does anyone care about Valentine’s Day? Named for one or more early Christian saints (Valentinus seems to be the most popular name variation), Valentine’s Day first became associated with love in the 14th century. Cupid, as he was known to the Romans, also known as Eros to the Greeks, has been around as the god of love since 700 B.C. And eighteenth century England is credited with shifting the momentum of the occasion to romantic love and the exchange of gifts, flowers, cards and other tokens (such as keys to unlock a heart) between lovers.

Love, it seems, is a mighty powerful human emotion, powerful enough that, according to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day merchandise in 2017. That’s up about $800 million from 2014 but a bit lower than the record $19.7 billion spent in 2016. Another way to look at Valentine’s Day is by what consumer packaged goods are purchased. Candy and greeting cards are the top two purchases, followed by an evening out, flowers and jewelry.

But the holiday’s meaning and how you celebrate is determined more by what stage of life you currently occupy than by anything else. The younger you are, the more involved with Valentine’s Day and its notions you are likely to be. Nearly two-thirds (66%) of American adults between the ages of 25 and 34 celebrate Valentine’s Day in some form. Anyone with kids will tell you that Valentine’s Day is a chance to purchase craft paper, red ink and plenty of heart-shaped stamps for every pre-school and elementary classroom that has an informal celebration to share cards and, sometimes, sweet treats with each other. Manufacturers have been wise to this trend for millennia. Necco’s Sweethearts candy, hearts stamped with phrases such as “Be Mine,” and “I♥U ” have remained popular since 1902 when they were first introduced.

The parents of those children likely buy some of those candies and cards but the older you are, the less likely you are to participate, with only 44.7% of adults 65 and older celebrating.

Though customs around the holiday have shifted since it became a celebration of love over the last couple of millennia, Valentine’s Day is far from done as a holiday. No matter how old you are, the day gives each of us an opportunity to express a positive human emotion – love and caring – and a chance for the kids to share a smile and a hug. As for those grumpy, more mature adults, well, there’s always National Friendship Day in August.

Which Super Bowl Ads Were the Most Memorable?


Well, Super Bowl 51 has come and gone. Highlighted by one of the most ambitious half-time shows ever and arguably one of the greatest comebacks by any team maybe ever, which television ads do you remember, if any? Did any innovative packaging design stand out? In a brief conversation with Simon Thorneycroft, the Founder & CEO of Perspective: Branding, we discuss which brands broke through the noise to achieve the trifecta of branding (and Perspective’s approach to branding) and were visible, visceral or memorable. What was most memorable about Super Bowl LI.

CM: Simon, Super Bowl LI is over. Are there any ads we should still be talking about?

ST: More than anything else, that comeback win by the Patriots is memorable. They came back from being 25 points down! Does anyone even care about the ads after a performance like that?

CM: Maybe not. And there certainly were the usual suspects out there in ad land – lots of fuzzy animals and supermodels, actors and musicians. But what stood out for you?

ST: The companies that stood out this year from an advertising perspective took a stand against what is going on in the political arena. Business is pushing their view on immigration and acceptance, which is rather the opposite of what you’ve seen lately from the current President. You saw it with Airbnb and their #weaccept campaign, and the buzz around Anheuser-Busch and their company’s very personal immigration story involving its two founders. Maybe because they are based in the Bay Area, but I remember Google and their ad. It starts with the image of a rainbow flag and someone whistling “take me home” [a John Denver song] and cuts to images of families of all colors using their Home device. They used all the tools at their disposal – actors of all colors, songs of inclusion, recognized diversity and inclusion symbols – to convey their message of acceptance.

Business gets it. They can’t lock out their audience.

CM: Did any other ads leave you with a sense of visceral, visible, memorable or your VVM philosophy?

ST: I liked FORD’s Go Further ads. Maybe because it was remarkably long, what over a minute? [It clocked in at one minute, 30 seconds.] And they put people in uncomfortable situations but ones that every one of us can relate to. Its Memorable.

Other than that, I also want to mention the National Football League. They have had players embroiled in controversy this season for acceptance, for trying to be visible to the police, and yet, they, too, took a stand with their “Inside these Lines” ad. When the Super Bowl host organization is urging people to join together and “live united,” that is powerful.

Sadly, I don’t recall the name of the brand that poked fun at the President’s hair [“It’s a 10” hair care], so they missed out on memorability, but making fun of the President as a way to get attention – well, that’s quite remarkable.

CM: So, no kangaroos or celebrities were memorable this year?

ST: I laughed out loud at Justin Bieber dancing but that’s just it. Bieber is memorable and he has a well-established brand but if you don’t remember the company he’s pitching for, you’re just another very expensive Super Bowl ad, forgotten by Tuesday. (That one was for T-Mobile and also featured Patriot Rob Gronkowski, among other stars.)

The Super Bowl is a great way to talk about VVM, shorthand for Visible, Visceral and Memorable, or Thorneycroft’s three word toolkit for building a great brand. Quite often, the best Super Bowl ads stand out from the crowd, make you laugh out loud. This year, after years of superstars and fuzzy bear commercials, what stood out in the sea of Super Bowl ads, what was memorable was the theme of acceptance.

Consider the Chip – Food Packaging Matters

Super Bowl Brand Packaging

Food Packaging

Food packaging can have a significant impact on food taste, quality and longevity. But none of that matters if the product does not get picked up off of the shelf and purchased. As we move into a new world of what makes a product marketable and peek at one of the biggest snacking events of the year – the Super Bowl – we want to know what marketers and brand packaging professionals are doing to encourage consumers to pick up their bags of chips and containers of dip before the big game. So we went to the store (our local Safeway) and asked consumers why they picked up a bag of chips.

Americans spend over $20 million on tortilla chips and a whopping $140 million on potato chips during the week before the Super Bowl (presumably for scooping up the 140 million pounds of avocados-a-la-guacamole). We asked why customers chose the bag of chips they did. Here’s what we heard.

Many choices of chips displayed for Super Bowl snack shoppers

Tostitos Party Safe Bag

With giant stanchions of Super Bowl-friendly items ringing the check-out aisles and almost every endcap, customers still aimed for the chip aisle, many picking up the Tostitos Restaurant Style chips. Of the five people we spoke with, two mentioned hearing about the Party Safe Bag that Tostitos launched prior to game day. The sleek black bag comes with a built-in sensor that, when blown on, turns into a red steering wheel when alcohol is detected and includes an Uber code and a “don’t drink and drive” message. Though we did not see this bag at the store, the “cool” factor drove interest in the brand.


Takis Chips

Positioned close to the deli counter, portion-sized bags of Takis Zombie and Takis Fuego resemble rolled tortillas. Coated with salsa and lemon powder (Fuego flavor also has hot chile pepper), Takis (a product of Barcel USA, the snack division of Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo) were selected by a young man who was looking for “spicy snacks.” (He chose Fuego.)  



Towards the back of the store, Mission boasted a huge display of just tortilla chips. We inquired of one customer why she chose the Mission Tortilla Strips. “You get a lot of chips for the price,” she said (the Safeway Club price was two bags for $5), confirming that product and its packaging is just one of the four P’s in the classic marketing mix.


In My Family’s Basket – Skinny Pop, Fritos, Safeway Organics and Ruffles

What made it into our shopping basket was determined partly by price (Mom loves bundled pricing) and partly by demand from my husband and two boys. “Can you get some Fritos?” “Oh! We love Boom-Chick-a-Pop!” and my insistence on purchasing only GMO-free corn products (except for those Fritos) determined what went into our cart on Super Bowl weekend.

My boys scouring the aisles for their favorite snacks

Admittedly, my team’s methods are imperfect (and involved minors) and our stats are not grounded in science. But there it is. Brand packaging drives sales but to move product before the Super Bowl, don’t neglect any of the four P’s of the marketing mix: placement, price, product and promotions all have their place in selling chips.