You'll still have to walk the couple of blocks from the Anaheim Convention Center to Disneyland if you want to see animated characters, but if you're looking for a retailing "theme park," hit the TrendZone at this year's Natural Products Expo West. The TrendZone will feature demos and information on some of the biggest trends in the natural products market. The TrendZone will focus on five areas that retailers need to pay attention to, according to Susan Fecko, program manager for Expo West: healthy ethnic foods, ethical consumerism, kids' nutrition, men's personal care and convenience foods.
"Understanding trends is a vital element to running a successful retail business," Fecko says. "We're offering retailers insight into the new trends, with information on what's hot in each category, so they better understand how to capitalize on those trends in their merchandising."
The TrendZone will be a self-contained learning and networking area on the show floor, Fecko says, and will include cooking demos, a lounge area, information displays and a full-service caf?. "The One World Caf? will feature live music and a diversity of food items so people can buy lunch, hang out and just listen," Fecko says. "It will be running throughout the entire show."
Everything except food from the caf? in the TrendZone will be free, including a salsa bar and sushi bar, which will feature samples from two of the fastest-growing categories in ethnic foods. For retailers interested in exploring ethnic foods, there will also be a conference session called "Cultural Convergence: The Place Where Healthy and Ethnic Meet" at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The trend area focusing on ethical consumerism will contain information and displays on such topics as fair trade and running a transparent business. The trend area focusing on kids' nutrition will cover topics such as children's supplements and childhood obesity, with tips on how to prevent obesity through healthy food choices. This zone will also contain information on the many lines of natural baby food new to the market.
The fourth trend area will focus on men's personal care products. "Personal care in general has been growing," Fecko says. "And men's personal care has really taken off." The final zone will focus on convenience foods, including frozen meals and ethnic meals, with plenty of sampling throughout the area.
"There are two other important areas within the TrendZone," Fecko says. "The first is a lounge where people can hang out, talk and have a home base throughout the show. There will also be a roundtable area featuring discussions led by experts, focusing on topics related to each area of the TrendZone. We'll try to exemplify each of these zones through a combination of displays, illustrations and sampling, creating a full experience you won't want to miss."
By combining all this information with the added attraction of good food and live music, Expo organizers hope to create a space that is both educational and relaxing. Now retailers attending the show will have a new option for sharing ideas—and food—during their time at Expo West.
Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 2/p. 16