Predictions and Trends for Expo West - Q&A with Catherine Walsh

February 28, 2023

Catherine Walsh

We are excited to announce Blend360’s attendance at ExpoWest next week in Anaheim, CA. Expo West is the leading natural products tradeshow in the country showcasing major brands and up and coming products in the CPG space. The nature of business in CPG brands has shifted since 2020, and Blend360 is excited to learn more about how our solutions and expertise can help drive brands forward.

Catherine Walsh, Director of Business Development forBlend360 Talent Solutions, and Jared Reid, Director of Business Development at BTS Denver, will be representing Blend at the show. Catherine has a long history with Expo, going back over 10 years. We wanted to hear from Catherine herself on why Blend is attending Expo West and how her history with her own snack food business led her in the position she is in today.

1.     What is your history with Expo West?

I started attending Expo West in 2011 as an exhibitor when I founded my organic snack food business. We were elated when we won a NEXTY award in its inaugural year. That award was so meaningful since it is an award that singles out innovative and impactful products.

The show has grown so much over the years. When it started, companies exhibited in only the main areas of the convention center, this was long before the building’s much-needed expansion several years ago. The numbers for both exhibitors and attendees have increased exponentially with record-breaking attendee numbers in recent years. As I attend Expo West in 2023, I see it through the lens of my new role at Blend. Thinking about how my business could have benefited from our core services, I am excited to meet brands that could use our help. I have many long standing relationships within the community and reconnecting through the Blend story is something I’m looking forward to!

2.     What excites you most about attending Expo West this year?

Over the years, I’ve attended Expo West in several different capacities and roles. This year, I’m looking forward to introducing Blend360 to Expo. In my role with Blend360, I am bringing solutions for my clients’ marketing, digital marketing, and data needs. A large topic of discussion for this year’s conference is how to keep momentum with the threat of economic instability. I am looking forward to discussing creative ways that companies can continue to produce and grow their brands. Being with Blend in the past year has allowed me to see how companies in the CPG space can leverage industry expertise and skills where they need it most, and have immediate impact on critical projects without significant overhead costs.  I’m excited to share that expertise with my network.


3.     What are the key themes you are seeing in the natural products CPG industry?

If you speak with anyone in the CPG space now, they’ll tell you it’s been an interesting and unpredictable time with conditions changing rapidly from one quarter to the next. Market conditions have forced brands to cut their marketing budgets and decrease headcount due to fluctuations in supply chains, the labor market, and capital restrictions. As a result of skills gaps and bandwidth constraints product innovation is also restricted. This has created a vicious cycle in which companies struggle to grow and innovate. The clients that I’ve seen succeed in these unpredictable times are the companies that are capitalizing on the strength of their core teams while leveraging flexible models to fill gaps. These are the best types of client relationships that allow for transparency and future thinking.

4.     How do these industry trends connect to what you are seeing in the talent marketplace?

Due to market shifts, many companies have restructured their teams. Companies are reluctant to increase headcount despite the need for digital marketing and technical expertise. Over the past year we have done extensive work with a natural products company that had a need to assess their competitive environment.  That short-term project led to uncovering the need for an e-commerce expert to make an immediate impact in that department. The role was not clearly defined as a long-term hire, but working together with the client, we determined that a permanent solution was warranted. To further build out the team and the client’s capabilities in this area, we worked together to find a marketing manager to join their team on a full-time basis.

These client relationships work well since Blend360 can be flexible and offer solutions that can help with both short- and long-term goals, knowing that the skills and expertise required at the start of a new initiative are likely to evolve and change over time. We help our clients minimize the risk of over-hiring or hiring for short-term needs by bringing in the experts clients need to have immediate impact, while assessing our client’s needs long-term.  Given the market conditions, now is the time to keep one step ahead by prioritizing marketing, product development, and innovation and to understand what’s working, what’s not, and where to invest to grow.

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