Candy Talk, Episode 24: Zingerman’s

Do you like your candy bars as though they materialized from 1960s Batman episodes? Zzang! Wowza! Dorf! Ok we made up that last one. But for all the silly-sounding names, Zingerman’s candy bars are some serious confection contenders.

Listen as the Candy Talk team dissects the bars like a delicious high school biology lab, wonders what candy bars we’d make if left to follow our passions, and contemplates if there is an amount of nougat so vast from which there is no return. Don’t miss out: this episode has the Adam West Seal of Approval!*

*not endorsed by or affiliated with Adam West.

And here’s that Zingerman’s video mentioned in the episode:

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Finding the perfect flavor: a conversation with Kerry

Wisconsin-based food science company Kerry is a world leader in taste and nutrition for the food and beverage industry. Boasting more than 900 highly skilled food scientists and nutritionists, along with teams of market researchers, they provide innovative flavor and nutrition solutions for a wide range of companies across the globe.

We recently spoke with Lauren Piek, Kerry’s Digital Marketing Specialist, to get a little more insight on what Kerry’s work is all about and how it impacts the food industry.

Q. What does Kerry do? What types of roles on your team contribute to this work?
A. Kerry began as a dairy cooperative in Ireland, committed to producing real and wholesome ingredients. As we’ve grown, we continue to provide solutions that satisfy a fundamental need: to eat, to eat well, and to be healthy. Kerry’s focus on Taste & Nutrition combines our multi-sensory aroma and texture experience with in-depth knowledge of people, life stage and daily nutritional needs. By partnering with Kerry, customers are taken on a journey to make food, beverage and pharma products that people enjoy and feel better about.

Our teams of chefs, baristas, brewers, mixologists, nutritionists and dieticians, food scientists and technologists, biochemists, engineers, regulatory affairs, sensorial science experts, flavorists, consumer insight experts and marketing experts all work together to address customer challenges and deliver solutions that consumers can feel good about.

Q. Tell us more about what you do.
A. Kerry began as a private dairy company in southwest Ireland before becoming a dairy co-operative in 1974. From there, the company has expanded throughout the globe, with the Beloit, Wisconsin location opening in 2009. Beloit is home to Kerry’s North America Technology & Innovation Center, which is the first of its kind for the company, and laid the foundation for other centers around the world, including our Global Center in Naas, Ireland.

There are nearly 700 employees at the Beloit Center – with a number of research and development labs, customer collaboration areas, and a fully equipped technical center with manufacturing equipment that replicates both Kerry’s and our customers’ production environments.

The Beloit Center is also home to Kerry’s Taste & Nutrition Discovery Center (TNDC), which includes an engagement room and discovery center, where Kerry’s teams work together with customers to brainstorm ideas for concepts, and explore the food and beverage industry through consumer insights and current trends in the marketplace. The space includes a 30-foot interactive screen where customers can explore market research and trends, and a kitchen where Kerry’s chefs can create menu offerings, test flavor options and sample concepts with customers.

Q. What are Kerry’s goals?
A. At Kerry, leading to better is at the heart of everything we do – better taste and better nutrition. We want to help our customers nourish and delight consumers around the globe, through innovative solutions and applications. We are also committed to a sustainable future with our ‘Towards 2020’ program, in which we are working on positively improving our environment, marketplace, workplace and community.

Q: Two hot topics in CPG today are clean labels and sweetening agents. Your Sensibly Sweet study addresses both issues. Can you tell us a little more about it?
A. Sensibly Sweet is a comprehensive study on consumer perception of various sweetening agents, preferences and expectations for new clean label products. We surveyed over 760 American consumers in the United States, utilizing a mix of quantitative and qualitative research techniques in an online survey. The result is a unique insight into consumer preferences of types of sweetening agents, intensity of sweetness and impact on the taste and nutrition of the product.

For more information about the study and to see the results, check out Kerry’s Sensibly Sweet white paper here.


New to Ingredient: Meet Neil Bertucci

Neil Bertucci recently joined us as our new Content Producer, helping to develop and produce recipes for our clients. He grew up in the restaurant industry and has a passion for all things food-related. We can personally attest to his cooking abilities; since he’s arrived, we’ve really enjoyed eating his delicious, creative dishes. We recently sat down with Neil to ask him a few questions and get to know him a little better.

Where did you work before? What did you do there?
Most recently, I was at Bardo Restaurant in Minneapolis. I designed the restaurant and the concept, opened it with a friend, and was the chef there until I left. I grew up in the food industry; my parents owned a restaurant and I owned my first restaurant when I was 23 in Wisconsin.

What made you interested in this job?
I had left Bardo to do freelance photography and help friends with a few restaurant concepts. I found out about this job opening at Ingredient and almost fell out of my chair. If I could design the perfect job, this would be it. I had lived in New York for a while, working for an ad agency and running a restaurant out there, trying to blend my skills. It’s crazy that I found a job that pulled it all together back here in Minneapolis.

Where did your passion for food come from?
From my family, from watching my grandmother. She was a tiny little Italian woman who had 15 kids. She would cook for her whole family, getting up at 5 AM to start rolling out pasta, to make pasta by hand for the whole family. She made insane amounts of food. She was always cooking, and for as long as I can remember, I was right next to her, helping her.

What do you hope to accomplish here?
Of course, I want to create amazing photographs and videos; but even more so, I want to push the envelope. I don’t want to just do what everyone else is doing. I want to create our own niche – to create a trend versus follow a trend. We have all the resources and tons of talent and we are already starting to do that now.

What’s your favorite recipe to make?
I love making pasta!


Food from Our Family to Yours

The holidays are all about food and family; memories of sitting around the table, spending time with loved ones and eating special dishes together. In fact, food memories are some of the most powerful memories we have, because they involve all five senses.

We love hearing about one-of-a-kind food traditions, so we asked our team to share their favorite family recipes – the ones that brought smiles to their faces and reminded them of home. We’re happy to be able to share these family recipes with you!

Tim: Traditional Norwegian Lefse

“Lefse, a potato-based Norwegian flatbread, is definitely a tradition that has been passed down in my family going way, way back. My parents got this lefse griddle as a wedding gift! I make lefse with my family every year around Christmas. I even made it for one of our company’s Monday morning meetings and everyone loved it.”

Ingredients
4 cups milk
¾ cup cream
1 stick of butter
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cups potato flakes
½ cups flour

Directions
1. Heat milk, cream, butter, salt and sugar. Pour cream mixture over potato flakes. Stir until liquid is gone. Leave in bowl with a towel covering partially, cool overnight.
2. Add flour right before you roll into 2-inch lefse balls. Refrigerate as you keep rolling.
3.Using a rolling pin, roll balls on top of flour until the lefse is very thin. Move very carefully to lefse grill. Lefse may start bubbling. Once you see bubbles, flip the lefse. Coloring should only be slightly brown.

 

Stephanie: Polus Family Noodles & Tomatoes

“I know, it sounds weird. And being around our fancy food all the time, it feels like I should upgrade it. But this is how I ate it (no joke) WEEKLY growing up and so, I treasure it! It was our go-to meatless meal, usually on Wednesdays. It was super easy for either of my parents to make – it took just minutes to put together – so we could enjoy it as soon as my mom got home from work.

It’s served with cottage cheese. Salt and pepper required. We usually didn’t mix it up, but now, as an adult who works around food all the time, I might experiment with adding basil, or cooking the tomatoes in some other spices for added flavor.”

Ingredients
1 package egg noodles
1 can whole tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Cottage cheese

Directions
1. Cook the noodles according to package directions. Drain.
2. Add the tomatoes and juice from the can. Stir to combine.
3. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add cottage cheese as desired.

 

Jenny: Chocolate Whities

“These are my favorite cookies that my mom makes! These chocolate cookies are soft, rich and cakey, topped with a simple white icing – loosely based off an old Pillsbury recipe. Unfortunately, my mom let me name them when I was younger – of course that’s what a kid would name them! – and the name stuck. Tip: They’re actually better the next day. That is, if there are any left…”

Ingredients
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
6 level tablespoons cocoa
2 tablespoons oil
½ cup sour cream
1 teaspoon almond extract
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups flour

For the frosting:
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Powdered sugar
Milk
Almond extract (optional)

Directions
1. Cream butter and sugar.
2. Blend in egg, cocoa, oil, sour cream, almond extract, baking soda, salt, and flour.
3. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheets.
4. Bake at 350 F for 12-15 minutes. Let cool.
5. Combine the frosting ingredients until desired consistency. Spoon over cookies and let harden.

 

 


Capturing the essence: Food photography 101

FoodPhotography_image1

Food photography has come a long way since the questionable recipes and muted color palettes of vintage cookbooks. Today’s photos are creative and fresh, using lighting and backgrounds to showcase the wide variety of textures and details that make food naturally appealing.

At Ingredient, we do all our photography in-house; over the years, we’ve honed our skills to create simple, eye-catching images that resonate with consumers. Here are some of our go-to approaches for successful food photography:

Don’t over-style things.

We like to call it “perfectly imperfect.” We gently style the food, keeping it fresh, natural, and timeless. It’s all about being relatable and attainable—not overly difficult or pretentious. We want people to feel as if they can reach into the image and taste the food themselves.

Keep the background neutral.

We use natural lighting and neutral backgrounds to help the food’s organic beauty shine through. Busy backgrounds and unnecessary props can feel cluttered and distracting; when we’re shooting, the food is the focus.

No fake food.

Unlike some food photographers out there, all our food is completely edible. We don’t use any crazy styling techniques like paint, oils, shaving cream or glue (insert horrified screaming emoji here). Everything we shoot is real, cooked fresh in our kitchen, and ready to go. And then we eat it!

Keep a single focus.

We typically use selective focus, or a shallow depth of field, to feature one item, versus an entire tablescape. This allows us to bring full attention to the food and create some drama.

Choose composition that’s best for the food.

With the rise of Instagram comes an increase in top-down food photography. However, we don’t get hung up on any one angle or type of shot. We typically take pictures from a variety of angles—and then simply choose which one makes the food look best.

Recipe shots vs. product shots.

Beautifully styled recipes are easy to photograph, with so many ingredients and textures to draw the consumer in. However, in the case of a single product or ingredient, we need to get creative with the composition! Our team uses design elements to come up with an image that’s engaging and graphically interesting.

These are just a few of the rules we live by—for now. Instagram, iPhones and food bloggers continue to have a huge impact on the evolution of food photography, and our team is always on the lookout for new and upcoming trends!

 

 


Comfort Food That Gives Back: All-Square Restaurant & Institute

AllSquareFRONT

When we create something that helps a business sell food, that makes us feel great. But when our work also helps people succeed…well, that’s even better.

That’s why we’re thrilled to work with All Square, a Minneapolis non-profit institute whose mission is to empower, educate and employ formerly incarcerated individuals – via a craft grilled cheese restaurant.

Founder Emily Hunt Turner, a civil rights attorney in Minneapolis, wanted to create a project in which former prisoners would participate, partly run and directly benefit from the operation. She also really loved grilled cheese. One day, inspiration struck her, she combined her two passions, and the concept of All Square was born.

Located in the Longfellow neighborhood of Minneapolis, All Square features a delightful menu filled with artisan grilled cheese sandwiches, from basic Four-Cheese to sweet-and-savory Hawaiian and spicy Jerk Chicken, along with a variety of rotating seasonal recipes and sandwiches inspired by the All Square participants themselves. It’s comfort-food at its finest – a must-try if you’re in the Twin Cities area!

But even more impressive is what’s behind the walls of the restaurant: the All Square Institute, a professional development institute that allows All Square Fellows, formerly incarcerated individuals, to earn a living wage and give them the skills and social capital necessary for a bright and productive future.

All Square’s Development & Operations Manager Tommy Harris explains, “Many of our Fellows are pigeonholed into low-wage jobs. We’re trying to help them actively locate their true interests. Our ultimate goal is to reduce recidivism. In order for these folks to succeed, they need to feel meaningfully included in society.”

The Institute’s 12-month program consists of three phases. Phase 1 includes training in restaurant skills and customer relations. Phase 2 helps the Fellows develop a professional foundation, including resume writing, interview skills, and the creation of a career plan. “Phase 3 helps them lay the groundwork for actually executing their plan,” Tommy continues, “We partner the Fellows with folks in their desired career path for hands-on mentoring. We have partners in law schools, business, marketing…pretty much every career field.”

The All-Square Institute deliberately sets a beginning and end date for program participants. “We want to involve formerly incarcerated people not only in our environment but also in greater society, so that requires re-entry,” Tommy explains. “Our Fellows are required to graduate with a business career educational plan so when they graduate on Friday, they know exactly what they’re going to do on Monday.”

Ingredient recently filmed and produced a promotional video for All Square’s Grilled Cheese for Life (GCFL) campaign: a one-time payment that allowed members to enjoy all the grilled cheese they can eat, for the rest of their life. All the proceeds from GCFL directly helped support All Square’s mission to empower people to overcome barriers, develop personal and professional skills, and become gainfully employed.

Up to this point, the majority of the All Square venture has been community funded, and with strong mentors, enthusiastic participants, and fantastic sandwiches, the Institute has a bright future. “Food brings people together!” Tommy smiles, “That’s a huge part of what All Square is.”


Candy Talk, Episode 23: Circus Peanuts

Pack your bags! We’re taking a trip to grandma’s house and making a beeline straight to the candy dish (sitting on a doily, guaranteed.)  In this episode we explore the infamous – and confounding – circus peanut.

Listen as the our team of Candy Talk masochists surrender both their judgement and their palates. Is it true that these actually inspired one the most iconic children’s cereals ever? Why do some of the colors in no way represent their actual flavors? And did you know that circus peanuts are self-gravying? Well, unfortunately now you do.

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Candy Talk Podcast

Movie Theater Candy reese's peanut butter cups Peeps muji

That’s right. In our spare time, we do a podcast entirely about candy. As one of our employees calls it, “America’s second-favorite candy podcast.”

It all started as a lunchtime conversation, brought up as a joke, and it turned into an amazing side project where we get a sugar rush AND learn random facts about our favorite candies. (Win-win!)

Each podcast is centered on a single topic and features a rotating host. That person chooses their favorite candy, does a little research and brings lots of samples. Then the rest of the Candy Talk crew joins them in our podcast room, tons of candy is eaten…and things start to get real. We take this very seriously; to ensure that all reactions are completely off-the-cuff, we’re not even allowed to talk about it before the show.

The hardest part? Eating candy on audio without sounding gross.

The best part? We get to sample all kinds of candy! It’s a fun exercise that gets people out of their work zones and allows them to be creative in a different way.

We don’t stick to a hard-and-fast production schedule; we only produce the shows when we have time. We design the cover art ourselves. We take all the photos. The theme music was written by a friend of a friend. We even have an employee who does all the voiceover work. And in case you were wondering, we don’t make any money off these podcasts. (BUT if you’re interested in advertising, let us know…)

Over the past couple of years, we’ve racked up quite a library of episodes. Check them out for yourself! Oh, and if you have any suggestions for future Candy Talk topics, give us a shout.

Episode 20: Is It Candy?

Episode 18: Custom Candy Bars

Episode 12: The Blizzard

Episode 6: Peeps

Episode 1: Salted Nut Roll


Q&A with Pinterest’s Arthur Sevilla

Food Search Pinterest

Image source: Pinterest

Arthur Sevilla (@arthursevilla) is Pinterest’s CPG Vertical Strategy Lead. Committed to inspiring brands to think beyond media metrics and value the context of consumer engagement, Sevilla is a passionate brand builder. Before joining Pinterest, he spent a decade at Kraft Foods and Mondelez International, in global equity and innovation roles within the grocery and confectionary categories. Most recently Sevilla was a director of global e-commerce where he set the strategic roadmap for the 2020 ambition of $1B in revenue and executed Oreo Colorfilled, the first DTC activation for the iconic brand. We recently spoke with him to discuss his role, top food trends, and best practices for food marketers on Pinterest.

ING: Arthur, what’s your story? How did you end up at Pinterest? What is your role there?

AS: I started my marketing career in analytics building marketing mix models at IRI from weekly scanner data. I got bit by the CPG bug and recognized I needed a business degree to go into brand management, so I went back to business school and started my formal CPG career at Kraft Foods and Mondelez International when it spun off in 2012.

I spent a little over a decade, across a number of roles: in base brand building, innovation and international growth. Ultimately, my last role was within the inaugural e-commerce team at Mondelez International—and it was in this role that I realized that the digital disruption of CPG was upon us.

Partly driven by my time in France, the UK and certainly while I was in China, I saw how digital platforms were engaging with consumers and changing the way CPG manufacturers were able to connect with them. I spent two years at Mondelez building a winning e-commerce strategy, but along that journey it became clear to me that there was one digital platform that really differentiated itself and that was Pinterest. It was—and still is—a platform that I think is yet to be fully realized by  the CPG industry.

I believe I have the best job in the marketplace. As I became more familiar with the Pinterest platform, and the unique role it serves in people’s lives, I was excited to join and guide our next phase of CPG growth. I serve in a unique role within the organization. As the Pinterest CPG vertical leader I do not fit directly into a sales organization, nor do I have product responsibilities; rather, I am a strategist that helps guide both sales teams and internal product teams to think more like brand marketers. I guide our organization to be more empathetic to the brand-led business objectives our Partners are facing and how Pinterest can help them achieve their goals.

Sometimes I find we get caught up in the tech world, talking about what technical capabilities we can deploy. My job is to turn that on its head and speak from the consumer side and the business side, the brand-building side; to guide our understanding of which business objectives brand leaders are trying to solve and see how Pinterest can uniquely deliver those goals.

ING: Is your role one that Pinterest has created recently?

AS: I’m about 16 months into this role, and the role was newly formed a few months prior to me joining. Pinterest has created 8 vertical prioritizations right now, with retail and CPG being our largest. I come from the CPG industry and lead the CPG vertical. In a similar fashion, we have professionals in Detroit leading our auto vertical; in Los Angeles leading our entertainment vertical; in Seattle leading our technology vertical, and so on.

We’re a fairly new team and a fairly interesting function in the tech world, pulling industry experts to help shape and guide our internal product development as well as our external messaging and solution buildout.

ING: Got it! How do you think CPG companies in particular can best utilize Pinterest as a platform?

AS: I think it’s important to recognize first what Pinterest is and how we are differentiated in the marketplace. There are a number of digital platforms that brands engage with, and Pinterest is in a very unique position: we are a visual discovery engine, in contrast to a social media platform or a search engine.

A visual discovery engine has essentially three parts. I use those words very purposefully. “Visual” is the first word there; that’s because the unit of engagement of Pinterest lies in the image, whether it’s a static image or a moving image (e.g., a video). The picture is our language. If you open up your Pinterest app you’ve got a home feed, curated to your needs and your interests. Through your engagement with those images, we understand what you’re interested in and are better able to serve curated content that meets your particular tastes.

We are also a discovery platform. That discovery part speaks to the mindset of the consumer. There are other platforms out there that people use when they already know exactly what they want. There’s an amazing platform out of Seattle; when you know what you want to buy, you go there and you buy it! There’s another platform that I use when I want to connect with my friends; I go there and I use that a couple times a day too. They are great platforms for those specific functions. But what happens when you have an idea of what you want but don’t exactly know how to execute on that idea? When you just want some guidance, some discovery, some inspiration? That’s what Pinterest is! It’s a discovery platform. Through the visual nature of who we are, we help guide consumers through their journey of discovering and doing what they love. That’s our mission: to help you discover and do what you love.

The last portion of our purpose is serving as an “engine”. As a visual discovery engine we want you to go do stuff! We don’t measure your time on our platform; we’re not here to keep your head down in your phone; we’re here to inspire you to do something: to go make something, to travel somewhere, paint your house, buy that outfit, redo your pantry. We’re enabling that by being an engine of action.

ING: Who do you think is doing the best job right now? Do you have any standouts that are really killing it?

AS: The brands who most successfully utilize Pinterest are those who understand how to engage with our consumers. We’ve got plenty of case studies on our blog. Think of any brand that wants to achieve awareness of something new about their brand. We help them develop a three-part strategy, finding the right audience, finding the right context to make sure the content is relevant to the audience, and finally finding the right time to engage with that content and that audience. When you get these three pieces right—the consumer, the context and the right time at which it is relevant for consumers to be engaged—that three-part equation really does drive significant positive results.

ING: One of the most interesting things about Pinterest is how you can use the platform to get inside developing trends. We imagine you’re very close to the formation of these trends. Can you speak a little bit about Pinterest’s ability to predict and or see these trends developing in real time?   

AS: I think that speaks exactly to the unique intent signals that we capture on the platform. Pinterest is a platform for yourself. We actually have an internal phrase: “Pinterest is about yourself, not your selfie.” We’re not here to help project some version of yourself to the world. We are here to help you discover and do what you love. And we know what you are interested in—what your specific tastes are based on what you are searching and saving, along with your board descriptions. Pinterest understands the individual tastes based on honest intent signals. We call this the Pinterest Taste Graph. Analyzing what is new on the platform helps us build out some trend forecasting.

In Q1 of every year, we publish a research piece we call the P100. Across 10 categories, with food being our largest category, we identify the top ten trends that we see upcoming in the year.

How do we get these trends? Through analysis of intent signals, we look for significant growth year over year. We also want to make sure the velocity of the growth rate is increasing, that it hasn’t peaked yet, and we also want to make sure that there’s a substantial amount of consumers who are engaged in that trend.

We’ve identified a few trends in the food space that I think are pretty interesting. Health in general is a macro trend that is impacting the entire food industry. We saw a lot of interest in the Whole 30 diet about two years ago, but we believe that Whole 30 has somewhat peaked and may be on the way out, while the Keto diet certainly is rising as the new health trend.

We’re a little bit late into the year now, but in January or so we very much called spice and heat an ingredient of significance, whether that be Moroccan spices or Sriracha. If you look up and down the grocery aisles now there is not one category that probably hasn’t introduced some Sriracha flavor product, so we believe heat is definitely a 2018 trend that is still going.

Looking forward in the future, I personally have a couple predictions—and this is not to replace the formality of our reporting—but I think air-frying is going to impact snacking. Air-fryers were a massive gift last holiday season and that cooking method is really going to come into the grocery stores in the years to come. And—this is just my point of view, but I have my eye on peas as a snack: snap peas and edamame are going mainstream. I’m also calling ginger out as a flavor profile that will grow in 2019.

ING: We saw you speak at this year’s Sweets & Snacks Expo; as soon as we heard you and walked down the floor, we said, oh! Here’s all the stuff that Arthur was talking about. There’s the peas, there’s the spice…it was like everything you said we were seeing out in the aisles of the show.

AS: That was very cool (laughs). When I passed by the Mars-Wrigley booth and I saw the heat-flavored Starburst, I was like, yes they see it too!

ING: How are consumers using Pinterest while they’re physically in stores? If you’re a CPG company, or a retailer, that’s got to be a really powerful attribute of your platform.

AS: The Save feature is really a powerful tool on Pinterest. It enables consumers to come back to an idea they find interesting and helps them organize their ideas. In fact, we just launched the opportunity to create sub-boards within a board, which helps really active Pinners organize their thoughts.

Consumers are using Pinterest in the grocery store—we’ve taken a couple of qualitative surveys, and there’s a heavy use of Pinterest as a secondary list creator. So, say I have a recipe that I want to buy ingredients for, or an individual brand has engaged with me and I want to be reminded to purchase that item in store.

89% of all Pinners say that Pinterest has shown them something that they want to go purchase in the store. So we’ve been influencing purchases in store. The second part of that journey is, what happens when people are already in the store? 40% of those consumers say they actually pull up the Pinterest app when they’re in store to help them through the shopping process.

Those are significant numbers, considering that we have over 200 million consumers worldwide every month actively engaged on Pinterest. It would be wonderful if we could capitalize on that and target via specific geographic location. We certainly see the opportunity and I will say that it is in our pipeline, but we have nothing formally to announce at this time.

ING: You guys are doing some cool stuff, including a new feature called Lens. Can you tell us about where the idea came from and how the tool works?

AS: It is an interesting feature that reinforces Pinterest as a visual discovery engine. Visual discovery is who Pinterest is. We are the eyes of the Internet; capturing and understanding the image is at the core of who we are. We are constantly innovating in that.

We believe the
camera is the
new keyboard.

We believe the camera is the new keyboard. It is much easier to take a picture and say, “oh, I like this,” or “what is that?” versus describing it with words into a white box. Right? If you don’t know what it is, how do you describe it appropriately? It’s much easier to take a picture. Therefore, we’re spending a tremendous amount of engineering resources to learn and understand how to analyze our visual universe.

Lens is a feature available through the Pinterest app. Simply open the app, select the camera, take a picture, or upload any picture you have in your photo library, and Pinterest will then ingest and analyze that image and serve you images related to that image, whether it be directly or indirectly related. This is a consumer-only feature right now. We’re capturing a tremendous amount of data and we’re frankly learning as we go. There is a machine-learning aspect to this, where the picture that the consumer engages with is associated with a specific recommendation from our algorithm. We’re getting smarter and smarter, such that we can truly identify the 100 billion pieces of content we have on the platform and associate all those things that are similar to it.

Lens is a great feature; there is more to do, and we are learning and excited about it. There is no commercial application yet, but I’m sure as we fine-tune and gain increasing confidence of that capability we’ll then productize it appropriately.

ING: How can Pinterest best be used as a marketing platform for brands? How do you see marketers succeeding and what is the best way for them to approach the platform?

AS: I ask every brand I work with to start by defining their business objective. When you start there, it is easier to build a winning strategy. What are you trying to achieve when speaking to a consumer? Do you want to say something new? To deliver an awareness message? Do you want to encourage them to try something in a different way, or to actively go buy something?

So, let’s say you want to communicate a new product. Who do you want to communicate it to? We have a tremendous amount of insight into the Pinterest audience. Every one of our 200 million users globally has a unique taste graph profile where their unique interests are identified through their honest intent signals. We can target consumers based on their unique interests, keywords in search or based on what they purchased in the past in partnership with Oracle audiences.

 Once you define your objective and your audience, let’s talk about the moment we want to engage them. Is this a new breakfast product? A new summer product? Do you want to engage consumers during the back-to-school planning session? Is football something that you want to associate with? Is Cinco de Mayo a holiday of relevance to you?  Or is your message more evergreen? Depending on the moment and the time, we can help you speak to that audience in relevant context.

In this new age of digital disruption for CPGs we can no longer assume that a one-size-fits-all message will be effective. We have to recognize that modern marketing requires respect of the context of the engagement and consumers are expecting a personalized relationship with brands. That personalization is based on who they are as an individual, and that scale is required because a manufacturer can’t target 200 million people individually. You have to create groupings of individuals to find that scale and efficiency. But do so based on honest intent signals.

If you start with your business objective, deliver a message that is relevant to your consumers and find the right time period, Pinterest enables digital engagement that will deliver an effective, efficient return on your investment. We’ve seen that time and time again. Pinterest is maturing as a critical digital platform  and I know we are making strong resonance in the marketplace, which, frankly, is seeking an alternative to the duopoly that currently exists.

Do you want to grow your brand’s presence on Pinterest? At Ingredient, we can help you develop a strategic social media plan and figure out how to best utilize a visual discovery engine to support your brand’s goals.  

Contact us for more information >


Candy Talk, Episode 22: White Chocolate

Get ready to make some enemies. Parent against child. Dog against man. Simon against Garfunkel.

Two words: white chocolate.

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that the white stuff is very polarizing. Listen as the Candy Talk team discovers what separates real white chocolate from the impostors, why it’s associated with winter (it’s not JUST because of the color), and how much Big White Chocolate is pulling all the strings in this country. Let’s get this off our chests, shall we?

And don’t forget to check out the the 1986 Nestle commercial we mention that will make you desperate for a wind machine:

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