Forecasting Webinars Combine Valuable Information, Human Connection

Posted February 1, 2021 by Alyssa Stahr

A couple of months ago, we published a blog regarding best practices for webinars. I’m happy to report that I’ve attended four webinars in January, and only one missed the mark in my opinion. The other three provided value-added information that went beyond forecasting trends for 2021. 

The first order of business in my line of work is to sift through the information being provided. Not only is my inbox flooded with industry knowledge, thought leadership tips and trends that I will need for research in future content pieces I’m creating, but I also have to decide which webinars are worth something that is more valuable to me than anything else: my time. 

This month, I had a few webinars that I chose that were extensions of forecasted trends I received in emails and various end-of-year prose. So, you might be wondering, why attend a webinar that regurgitates that information? Well, sometimes that answer can be hit and miss. The previously mentioned webinar that missed the mark didn’t provide any new information pertinent to the audience, i.e., me. It was long and self-indulgent, leading to a quick exit even after giving the next speaker a chance to redeem himself. 

However, yesterday I attended three in a row that added benefits beyond emailed information: new insights, human connection and “wow” moments that were worth tuning in for. 

Plant Protein: Development and Diversification in Plant-Based Analogues

I chose this webinar because of our clients’ needs for more plant-forward and plant-based information. Even though the speakers were from UK-based companies, it’s nice to compare knowledge from food and beverage manufacturers as to the “how” and “why” of one of the biggest trends of late. The speakers reiterated what U.S.-based consumers are expecting: great products with alternative protein sources at an affordable price. The speakers were focused on sustainability, product range, alternative protein bases and a conscious consumer like we’ve never seen in our lifetimes. Accessible products with sustainability in mind were key drivers of the webinar, and like their U.S. counterparts, the UK product developers found that taste is king — with nutrition following a very close second. It was informative, thoughtful and to the point. My only con was that we couldn’t see or interact with the speakers and there were no corresponding informational slides. But, the Q&A moderated format kept it fairly engaging throughout. 

Top Flavor Trends for 2021 and Beyond by Symrise

I loved this webinar because it was designed as an unveiling of the top flavors that Symrise thinks will be a hit in 2021. It provided totally new information and a ton of prospects that I even hadn’t heard of before. Using four main categories as launchpads, emerging flavors included shichimi, marjoram, Mexican “power herbs” and star anise. My favorite aspect of the webinar was the periodic end-of-category poll, which asked attendees which ingredient in the group was most pertinent to their business. With food and beverage manufacturers being the majority of the attendees, that data can be used to drive further flavor predictions in the future. “None of the above” came up quite frequently, which led me to believe Symrise is ahead of the curve, and I’m excited to see the new flavor combinations that yesterday’s webinar will spark.

Routes to Resilience, IWSR Drinks Market Analysis by the Brewers Association

This one was the most interesting one of the day. We could see the speaker live and in action, and her data was presented with engaging slides that provided information pertinent to my needs. Data was gathered in late Q4 2020, and they are also in the middle of tracking consumer behavior through 2024. How are consumers shopping? What are they drinking? What is the economic impact and price sensitivity over the next year? Direct to consumer e-commerce is booming, and RTD, which was growing prior to covid, is continuing to soar. Although the beer category will take some recovery time, growth of non-alcoholic beverages, an “interesting sub-category,” is dominant and growing, a bright spot in the genre. Hard seltzers are also gaining, surpassing spirits along with RTDs for the first time. And, the United States is primed to overtake China for the first time in history in beverage e-commerce in 2021. Exciting data coming out of this webinar, which was definitely worth time spent. 

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