Aftermath: Natural Products Expo East
Booth 5330 at the Natural Products Expo East was well-represented at the large-scale convention in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Each year Hsu’s sets up for three days of meetings, educating consumers, and learning more about the scope of the Natural Products industry.
Of the many reasons to attend a trade show of this magnitude, the most important is exposure. Depending on the show, the potential for visitors nears the tens of thousands. Two symbols that grab the attention of passers-by are the Something Special From Wisconsin logo that we feature on many of our products, and our Hsu’s Root to Health logo. Sometimes, we run into someone who is, or was, from Wisconsin and then we get into a conversation about beer, cheese, or the Packers and we feel right at home.
We quickly learned from our past experiences that the Natural Products industry has some good eggs, but also maybe a few cracked eggs too. I for one learned my lesson last year when I got somewhat sick from eating off of each exhibitor’s counter. Our advice to new exhibitors and visitors is to stay disciplined and try new products sparingly.
One thing we realized at last year’s expo was that a gap exists between the Eastern (Asian) and Western (U.S. and Europe’s) outlook on ginseng. To bridge that gap is to essentially identify an international customer. More specifically, it means tailoring to both Eastern and Western values simultaneously. The world is getting smaller and our online presence is continuously being revamped and reevaluated to fit our global needs. The addition of Hsu’s Amazon page is one way we can stay current. Our trips to Expo West in Anaheim give us the insight into a broadened demographic with the large Chinese population on the West Coast.
The scope of competitors we find at the show typically doesn’t vary outside of Korean ginseng companies, but even they do not always travel to Expo East because of the lack of an Asian demographic on the East coast as opposed to the West. This year we had the second American ginseng company join the Expo, the Ginseng Herb & Coop from Marathon, WI, along with a representative from the Ginseng Board of Wisconsin.
Brand identity is very important to all of the exhibitors because for every category of product there could be up to fifty or more competitors or like-minded businesses competing for the same pool of consumers. At Expo East, one can see a lot of similarities in brand strategy, aura, and even product likeness among vendors.
The most volatile yet buzz-generating section is most always the food/confectionery aisles where vendors are displaying their organic cookies, smoothies, candies, and even finished pizzas, tacos, and much more. Another pro-tip we have is to remember that even if something is labeled as organic, certified organic, all-natural, etc., do your research on the products, consult your physician, and know what you are putting in your body. Non-dairy products almost always contain nut products such as cashews and coconut and the amount of children and even adults in the United States that suffer from food allergies is overwhelming.
We prepare for the Supply Side West trade show in Las Vegas starting on Thursday, October 6th by shifting focus to our ingredient division. Hsu’s supplies many large-scale operations with clean and potent American and Asian ginseng powders and powdered extracts for private-label use. Our ginseng is found in supplements, liquid extracts, and even a beer or two.
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