Esther Fabian, Account Director

The term "tourism" often conjures images of busy streets, landmarks and crowded attractions. However, nestled down less-traveled paths are many hidden gems waiting to be discovered.  

Lesser-visited cities, often overshadowed by their larger counterparts, offer their own unique charm and allure not found in bigger metros. And what better way to uncover these hidden gems than through the lens of environmental events that are driving tourism? 

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Reid Klintworth - Director, Growth & Development

First, I want to congratulate both Dr. Russell Zwanka and Western Michigan University for putting together such a successful conference. From the keynote speakers and panel discussions to the amazing students that showed up to support the Food Marketing Program, the 2024 Food Marketing Conference was truly a top-tier experience. Following up on our recent blog about contextual commerce, I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on the main themes of the conference as they relate to one larger overall theme: the rise in hyper-personalization in retail. 

Hyper-personalization is a marketing strategy powered by data, analytics and AI, providing marketers with the insights and capabilities necessary to adapt to individual customers in real time. Examples of this include Starbucks using AI to craft custom messages to audiences in their apps, Amazon creating hyper-personalized homepages with relevant product recommendations and more. 

So what are the factors driving the rise of hyper-personalization and its viability as a successful marketing strategy? Let’s dive in. 

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Reid Klintworth - Director, Growth & Development

This week, I have the privilege of attending the WMU Food Marketing Conference. It’s a special moment for me to reengage with my undergrad alma mater (Go Broncos), and an opportunity to connect with some of the brightest minds in food marketing. This industry is facing massive shifts in consumer preferences toward healthier food options and overall consumption changes, and consumers are seeking expanded digital and e-commerce experiences that offer more personalization and efficiency.  

I'm looking forward to hearing industry experts talk about these topics and more, helping to ensure that at Hart, we’re doing all we can to continue assisting our food and beverage clients evolve alongside the industry. 

Here are a few topics we’re keeping an eye on:

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Marc Paulenich, President

This week, I attended the DISCUS Annual Conference & WOTVS Global CONNECT! event to join in on the conversation with spirits industry leaders, decision-makers and supply chain partners. This was an incredible opportunity to dive into some of the mission-critical policies concerning the industry, connect with various industry executives and gain important insights from thought leaders in the spirits space. For me, one of the most interesting discussions of the event revolved around the importance of focusing on ways to generate value and growth as a brand in the spirits industry.  

As anyone in the industry knows, there have been tremendous changes taking place over the past few years. New products and competitors like cannabis-infused products, new legislation and regulation, and increased levels of responsibility stemming from diversity, sustainability and moderation initiatives – it can be a lot to navigate and easy to lose your path as a brand. 

That’s why, amid all this change, there is an increasing need to focus on the things that have always generated value and growth in the industry. So what does that look like?

Let’s take a closer look at some of those tried-and-true strategies. 

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Scott Hauman, VP Strategy and Innovation

Most marketers and brand champions know the importance of creating engaging experiences with brands. But what truly makes an impact? Think back to the last time you were genuinely impressed and inspired by a brand. It wasn't just a single interaction, but a carefully crafted series of micro-moments that left you feeling appreciated and understood.  

These are the invisible threads that make up the fabric of customer loyalty. These threads are none other than your customer touchpoints – the moments of truth, the silent but powerful conversations your brand has with customers throughout their entire shopping journey.

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Jeff Lutz – VP, Corporate Communications & Content

[Tater definition

The infamous “tater.” In the world of liquor, the term “taters” takes on a different meaning, referring to avid and discerning consumers who have a deep passion for premium and rare spirits. Liquor brands find themselves in an ongoing tango with the tater community and consumers find their bottled hopes and dreams slashed by the allocations already cornered by a more aggressive consumer. 

Taters do, however, play a crucial role in shaping brand perceptions, as their reviews, recommendations and preferences can significantly influence the purchasing decisions of other consumers. A tater’s impact extends beyond immediate sales, as their endorsement can elevate a brand's reputation and contribute to long-term success in the dynamic and evolving world of liquor. As such, creating the currency of “the insider” by building relationships with tater through exclusive releases, personalized experiences and engagement on social platforms is paramount for brands looking to thrive in the competitive landscape of premium spirits.  

Here are five key learnings that can be leveraged from how taters operate.

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Marc Paulenich, President

This past week, I had the privilege of attending MediaPost’s Brand Insider Summit: Pharma & Health, a gathering of some of the brightest minds in healthcare leadership and innovation. From technological advances to cutting-edge strategies, the three-day conference provided a platform for healthcare experts nationwide to spark thought-provoking discussions and share invaluable insights. 

Here are my three key takeaways from this pivotal event:  

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Zak Hart, Senior Account Executive

Artificial Intelligence is here, and it is not going anywhere. This is no longer a conversation about preparing for AI; it’s about how, as leaders, we manage its ever-expanding presence with careful intention and purpose. 

The effects of AI, especially generative AI, on our industry have been far-reaching and dramatic. In just the past twelve months, we’ve seen the burgeoning technology go from a fun little program to mess around with after work to where we are today, with applications being developed to streamline processes, write ads, generate images, and touch all aspects of the advertising, marketing, and public relations fields. 

Generative AI Charter: What is it, and why do you need it?

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Randy Phipps, Executive Creative Director

The Super Bowl – a cultural phenomenon and unofficial national holiday when families and friends gather around screens eagerly awaiting not just the clash on the field, but the unveiling of the most anticipated commercials of the year. But when did Super Bowl commercials become as important, if not more so, as the game itself? I would point to one campaign: the Bud Bowl. 

What can today's marketers learn from the Bud Bowl?

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Rebecca Courtney, Corporate Communications Director

As the anticipation builds for the big game, the marketing and advertising industry is gearing up for what has become a spectacle in its own right—the commercials. From brand newcomers to nostalgic throwbacks to the influence of the NFL’s newest “MVP” Taylor Swift, this year promises to be no different.

Check out our observations and insights ahead of advertising's big night.

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