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Mar 14 ,2018

Natural Products EXPO 2018

Natural Products EXPO at Anaheim Convention Center


Each year we are lucky enough to attend the Natural Products EXPO, the largest natural and organic products convention in the world.  Over 3,500 brands exhibit to over 85,000 attendees, making it quite an extravaganza of goodness.  It is fun to see what the veterans in the business are doing, but our favorite part of the show is the New Product Pavilion, where it is not uncommon to find the founder/maker of the product in their booth happily serving you a sample.

We know you care deeply about healthy natural food, so on with our report of what is new and trendy.


Yes, you know about gluten free, but now we have grain-free.  Books like The Plant Paradox, and Grain Brain have educated us that grains are not great for many of us, so finding products and entire companies that avoid grains is wonderful.  Some of our favorites now use cassava flour, or even cauli-flour to make tasty snacks without traditional wheat or grains.  We loved discovering Kitchun Grain Free Food Company, OHi Superfood Bar, Coco Thins, and TOSI Super Bites.

Gloriana Koll, Co-founder of Kitchun

OHi Grain Free Superfood Bar







Coco-Thins Grain Free cookie crisps

TOSI grain free SuperBites



Plants are in!  It was amazing the see the number of companies touting plant based ingredients, including plant protein, flour made from plants, and of course plant based drinks.  The gluten free, cauli-flour pizza from Caulipower was delicious, as was the pizza, and every single other item from Daiya foods, including the new coconut ice cream bars, and coconut yogurtDr. Praeger’s, a family owned business, was showcasing some of their new plant based foods, that were chock full of nutrients, and very delicious.  Note to moms of kids who don’t like vegetables: get your hands on their Kale Puffs.  In the drink department, we are huge fans of superherb company Rebbl, and all of the amazing drinks they produce.  Our favorites are Matcha Latte and Maca Mocha, but really they are all incredible tasting and good for you.  A new product that knocked our socks off was the Vive Organic line of wellness shots.  Super concentrated and potent, these shots will power you up for an active day.

Daiya gluten free, dairy free pizza

Dr. Praeger’s delicious Kale Puffs







Rebbl Matcha Latte Super Herb Elixir

Vive Organic wellness shots



Though we didn’t see enough brands doing cause marketing, a few brands stood out.  Stonyfield Organic is encouraging you to vote, with founder Gary Hirshberg stepping back in to oversee this important mission.  Then there are a few companies that are building cause into their business model, such as This Bar Saves Lives.  They donate a food packet to Action Against Hunger for each bar purchased in the U.S., a total of 3.5 million packets so far.  We know cause is important to all consumers, but especially millennials, so we’d love to see more brands support causes, especially parks!

Stonyfield Organic is encouraging you to vote


This Bar Saves Lives donates food aid with each purchase
















Along with plant power, we are starting to see a lot of plant-based meat substitutes.  Beyond Meat offered an incredible tasting meatless sausage at the show, and the crowd was going crazy.

Meat free sausages that taste good!












Lots and lots of other great products, but these are the ones that stood out to us.  Try something new on your next park adventure!

Mar 13 ,2018

Hollywood Movies, Glamorous Celebrities & Ads Galore

The memorable moments brought to us by the 90th Academy Awards ceremony will be felt for many weeks now that the awards have been given out and the parties are over. For the first time, we see the black community getting the recognition they deserve from the awards to inspiring commercials.

This year, Walmart made an impact by engaging viewers with a Dee Rees (director of Mudbound) directed sci-fi commercial in which a young woman is fighting a blob-like monster while an evil commander, played Mary J. Blige, gives orders. The two action stars, played by two little girls, are immersed in an imaginative game in a blue Walmart box while their mother, the monster, is telling them to go to bed.

Not only did this spot demand our attention and connect with us with it’s sweet demeanor, it also brought two lovely little black girls front and center in a sci-fi setting where they are rarely situated. This :60 spot is what we in the marketing community strive to create.

At GSG, our most important task is connecting with consumers in an authentic way in all of our cause marketing campaigns. The passion we have for making a difference in the world, inspiring community involvement and driving consumers to a brand that is doing good in the world moves us everyday. We’ve been lucky to lead campaigns that moved the audience and generated change. Check out some of our work here and reach out for our strategic guidance and campaign development.

Feb 05 ,2018

Super Bowl Ads Reflect Cause Marketing is Alive & Well

The Super Bowl draws millions of viewers and has become the most watched television event in a calendar year. The next day is filled to the brim with people recapping football highlights, halftime performances and of course, the commercials. With a hyperaware audience of 111 million it is no wonder companies will save their best and most important messages and products for this moment. A Super Bowl hit commercial is one that is shared across demographics and talked about for the long term.

GSG along with Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University, believes that “Super Bowl ads always reflect the mood of the country to a certain degree.” We’ve stated before that millennials are requiring more from the brands they use and support. They are, essentially, demanding companies show the good they are doing with the money they are given.

This year, we were elated to see brands so tastefully bringing their cause marketing efforts into the limelight. Budweiser has been running a disaster-relief water program for 30 years but only this year told this high volume viewership about it. Hyundai’s Hope on Wheels is celebrating its 20th year and has raised more than $130 million for childhood cancer research and chose the most prominent event of the year to share this incredible program. These companies are demonstrating their understanding of what their target audiences demand in terms of cause.

The Super Bowl offers brands the opportunity to score or fumble horribly. Where we see Budweiser and Hyundai succeed with their cause message, we also see Ram fumble with their “Built to Serve’ ad where they use Martin Luther King Jr’s speech as a comparison to how their trucks serve. The audience threw their negative feedback onto Twitter immediately. This is a know your audience moment that will leave the brand making amends for some time. We can call this their Pepsi moment.

In this millennial dominated environment, how is your brand holding up? We encourage you to incorporate cause marketing into your campaign strategies in 2018. Contact GSG here http://goodsolutionsgroup.com/contact/ to learn more about how we can help you kick-start your marketing efforts to reach and engage your audience with a cause driven strategy.


Jan 31 ,2018

Does Your Brand Strategy Include Cause Marketing?

JULIAN, CA MARCH 7: Volunteers plant trees in a wildfire burn area at Paseo Picacho Park in Julian, CA on Saturday, March 7, 2009.(Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Odwalla


It is impossible not to notice the enormous challenges facing our world today, which is why it is imperative now more than ever to ensure your company is including cause marketing in your annual strategy.

Consumers, especially millennials, are no longer accepting a brand on name or status alone. They want to, and will, stand behind a brand that takes action to create change in the world. By engaging in social issues you can earn both trust and loyalty from your consumers.

Ensuring that your brand partners with the right cause is essential to the success of your campaign. A great example of this is the partnership GSG created for Odwalla and Parks.  The Plant a Tree program encouraged consumers to vote via a dedicated landing page for a state park they wanted to “plant” a tree in. For every vote, Odwalla donated $1 towards the purchase of trees which resulted in 450,000 trees planted! States parks also handed out healthy Odwalla Bars to park visitors to keep visitors fueled and ready.

If you don’t have a Cause Marketing strategy, it’s time you get one!  GSG has helped companies like Coca-Cola, The North Face, Columbia, and Subaru create or refine their cause marketing, and we can help you too!  Learn more here.

Jan 10 ,2018

First Day Hike – Happy New Year!

Being outdoors, surrounded by nature is a great way to start your New Year. Every year, thousands of people, across 50 states, venture out to their local parks for a ranger guided tour on New Year’s Day, as part of the First Day Hikes coordinated by America’s State Parks. Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles.

Depending on location, hikers look for whales, birds, go snowshoeing, visit historic sites or explore parks nested in urban environments. You can visit America’s State Parks to select your 2019 First Day hike! You will not regret it!

Good Solutions Group is proud to be a founding partner of America’s State Parks, has been working with parks across the country since our founding in 2003. In total, programs created by GSG have generated over $12 million for parks in America. Learn more about our park related programs here.

For those of you who did participate in this year’s First Day Hike please feel free to share your experience in the comments below! Continue reading “First Day Hike – Happy New Year!” »

Dec 18 ,2017

It’s a Fact. What Your Consumers Expect of Your Brand.

In this rapidly evolving marketplace it is imperative to speak to your consumers in a way that moves them to action. 91% of consumers expect brands to prove a company is worthy of their business through good works and to operate responsibly socially and environmentally. 88% of consumers globally agree that a company taking specific actions can increase their profits and improve their communities socially and economically.

Today, it is imperative to not only produce a great product or service, but to show what your brand stands for. From environmental to social causes, companies globally are recognizing the impact their involvement in important issues can have on their brand. In fact, a massive 76% of companies are measuring and tracking the societal impacts of their investments and have begun using that data to inform their core programs.

Knowing that your consumers are more likely to support a product that had an accompanying social or environmental benefit verses 53% that boycotted a product from a company deemed irresponsible, should help influence your company to ensure cause marketing is included in your annual strategy.

Build a solid strategy in 2018 to reach the 66% of consumers who will pay more for products or services from companies committed to making a positive change. Good Solutions Group has been helping companies for over 15 years design, implement and track cause marketing initiatives. Our client list includes Nestlé, Coca-Cola, Subaru and The North Face to name a few. Reach out today to find out more about how we can help your company and brand grow in 2018.

Sources include: 2016 CECP Giving in Numbers Brief, 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer, 2015 Nielsen Sustainability Imperative Study and Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study.

Oct 18 ,2017

Hunger Awareness Month: How Companies Participated

Did you know that 1 in 6 people in the U.S. struggle with hunger? September was national Hunger Awareness Month, which led many companies to fight back and combat domestic hunger.

First, let’s look at the facts. 42 million Americans lack the means to get sufficient amounts of nutritious food and are faced with hunger at some point during the year. 13 million of these people are children and 6 million are seniors. Certain demographics, such as African American, Latino, and rural families are all more likely to be faced with hunger and malnourishment than white or non-Hispanic, urban families.

Hunger can affect all aspects of one’s life. A lack of funds for everyday living causes many people to have to choose between necessities, such as whether to pay for food versus paying for utilities, transportation, medical care, housing, and/or education. Furthermore, hunger has shown to have a significantly negative effect on physical and mental health. People struggling with hunger have a higher risk for diet-sensitive chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Malnutrition in children and adolescents creates significant disadvantages on their academic and social lives. Undernourished children face a steeper learning curve than nourished children. Additionally, children that struggle with hunger are more susceptible to obesity and its health consequences, as well as contracting sicknesses more often, slower recoveries, and more frequent hospitalizations. Teens faced with hunger are more likely to be suspended and have difficulty getting along with others.

Nonprofit organizations, such as No Kid Hungry, work to combat hunger with the help of volunteers and donations. Since September was Hunger Awareness Month, companies used September specifically to further participate in this fight.

This past September Bar-S fought hunger by launching a campaign with No Kid Hungry, and donated $100,000 to provide 1 million meals to children.

Bar-S did not stop there! Their campaign also included volunteer activities, on-pack information and a dedicated microsite to bring awareness and engage employees and shoppers to the childhood hunger cause. From September to December of 2017, the packaging on Bar-S’ top selling beef franks and bologna is calling out the No Kid Hungry cause. They also hit the web with a microsite, Bar-S.com/Serves, and a social media campaign to help spread the word. Social media influencers helped to expand the reach by connecting their audiences with ways to learn, donate, and volunteer for this cause. Bar-S went the extra mile by holding their own canned food drive and creating bagged lunches for local food banks from the donations given throughout September.

Bar-S also responded to the devastation of hurricane Harvey by donating 160,000 meals to hurricane relief efforts at the Houston Food Bank.

Thanks Bar-S for all the great work you’ve done and continue to do!

Find out more and how you can help at: www.bar-s.com/Serves.

Jun 13 ,2017

Cause Marketing Heroes at Natural Products Expo West

One of our favorite things to do each year is attend the Natural Products EXPO West. There we get to experience and learn about hundreds of new brands that are entering the market. We always come away inspired by the drive and commitment of founders and health nuts that are committed to creating the next best healthy product.  Here are some of our favorites from 2017.

The 2017 Natural Products Expo featured over 3,100 exhibitors spread throughout an event space that filled up the Anaheim Convention Center, and flowed into fully packed exhibits in the adjacent Hilton and Marriott Hotels. People flew in from all over the world to see what the brands leading the natural foods revolution are doing next.

We were on the lookout for any experiential and cause marketing, of course. There are a few brands that caught our eye, and we’ll explain why:

1.This Bar Saves Lives. 

The product is the cause. This yummy, chewy and crispy granola bar coated with ready to melt chocolate underneath is called “This Bar Saves Lives”. Immediately, you’re left wanting to know how it saves lives. The product is not only delicious, with flavors that jump out at you in every bite, but it also clearly and prominently communicates its cause above everything else. It’s in the name, in the booth’s lit-up sign, and right underneath the big red sign there, is a counter of how many lives the bar has helped save.

Every bar helps provide a meal packet for a hunger-stricken child.

This is what we mean when we say the best cause marketing is inseparably and authentically tied to the brand. It created credibility on one hand, but more importantly, it makes way for real impact in real humanitarian issues.

2. Just Water

This bottled water company delivers clean, natural spring water, but their cause is much bigger as they tackle on many issues with their single earth friendly product. The bottle is made from 82% renewable sources: paper and sugarcane derived plastic. Their water is sustainably collected from excess water from a watershed in Glen Falls, NY, providing all natural spring water. So what the cause? Providing sustainably gathered water in eco friendly materials is already a huge step above most bottled water brands, but the cause is much bigger than that.

By partnering up with the City of Glen Falls, Just Water sources their excess water and in turn, pays 6x the rate of municipal water rates. They pay more for water so it helps the city rebuild their water infrastructure and fund other city projects, but Just Water’s water is only gathered from their watershed’s excess water. Just Water is and pay more for water while still keeping costs to the end consumer low.

The idea is that because we treat water as an endless resource, the water commercialization model should change to source, sell and use water more responsibly, in hopes to hoping to “redesign the model for valuing water responsibly”. Pay more for water because it should be valued more, cut inefficient and unsustainable business and environmental practices. This is made possible by efficient and sustainable practices that keep other expenses such as energy and running costs low for the company. By paying Glen Falls more for access to their water, there is more money for municipal water infrastructure repairs. Our water supplies aren’t endless and Just Water made it its mission to sell water in a way that’s fair to our planet and the consumer.

3. 51Fifty 

51FIFTY Energy Drink gives you a caffeine kick without the sugary aftertaste. Made with a mix of natural herb extracts and other health conscious ingredients, it’s formulated to give you energy and support vitality. Right away, the brand gives off a vibe full of life and energy. Although it wasn’t branded on their EXPO display, a conversation with the team at the booth explained the brand’s commitment to helping families who live with autism. The beverage brand’s website has several web pages dedicated to informing viewers of The Race For Autism and their partnership with the Carlos Vieira Foundation, earning credibility through their deep commitment to the cause.  51FIFTY holds multiple fundraisers a year, donates a percentage of every sale to autism organizations and has consistently carried out campaigns over the years to increase autism awareness.

It’s more important than ever to deliver products that are Good-for-You and also get some Good done for the world as it becomes a key factor in how Millennials shop.

Feb 02 ,2017

Why Millennials Want your Brand to Invest in a Cause


Millennials Cause Marketing CSR GSG BlogWhy the sudden interest in causes? The growing interest in social causes is not so sudden, and definitely not temporary.

As the generation that grew up alongside the internet boom as well as the expansion of CSR (corporate social responsibility) and serious conversations about the environmental impact of consumerism, millennials care about how they impact the world around them. They see that big picture change starts with how they spend their dollars. That’s why some retail brands have found success with cause marketing, despite their for-profit models.  ‘Doing well and doing good’ is a mantra for millennials.

Social media has made it possible to have direct impact through seemingly ordinary purchases. These purchases make it easy, and convenient for consumers to make an impact. Efficiency is another reason why millennials are purchasing products and services that make it easier to do more. We’ve seen a growing trends in multipurpose tools such as tinted moisturizer and multimedia capable phones, and tools that just make life easier like “the cloud”. Brands must now offer solutions that serve the consumer and impact a social cause at the same time.  Millennials require brands to get involved purposefully, simply giving is no longer enough.

Purpose driven brands that integrate a cause into their business model like TOMS communicate their mission instantly, and exhibit authenticity. (Read more about purpose driven brands.)

Why does this lie on the shoulders of brand and not government? Millennials believe businesses have financial and technological resources to make change happen”, and millennials want to be involved. In return, millennials “reward brands that behave like good citizens with loyalty and positive word of mouth”.

Millennials are already using tools at hand like social media trying to be part of the solution. Viral campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge allowed millennials to do good by participating from anywhere in the world, as long as they posted their videos on social media. Two-thirds use social media to engage around CSR (66% vs. 53% U.S. average and 9 out of 10 are likely to switch to brands involved with causes.

Tired of hearing about millennials yet? Get ready to hear more for many, many years to come. Millennials are now the “largest living generation” in America and also represent the largest generation in the labor force. As their spending power increases, so must our attention.

And if just by chance you were planning on sitting this one out while the social cause phase passes on through, we’re warning you now, social causes aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, Generation Z (Anyone under 20 years old as of now) shares similar views concerning social causes as their predecessors. Cause marketing now requires long term attention and thoughtful involvement from brands like yours.

Here are some model campaigns doing it right.


Jan 10 ,2017

Best Cause Marketing Campaigns of 2016

REI opt Outside Cause Marketing

Now that 2016 is behind us, let’s take a look at campaigns we can learn from going into 2017.

REI “Opt Outside” 

As park advocates, any campaign promoting park exploration and encouraging active lifestyles warm our hearts.REI listened to consumers’ concerns over commercialization of holiday festivities, and came up with an alternative: ditch the shopping and head outdoors. Although at first glance this may sound counter-productive for a retail brand, it did just what it intended to do: gave consumers a break from consumerism in favor of reconnecting with the outdoors. REI’s brand depends on consumers’ active lifestyles, and by encouraging people to go outside it can increase their need for more outdoor gear, and helps them to become advocates for our public lands. This campaign has been running since 2015 and consistently sparks media interest and loads of engagement across social media. The “Opt Outside” campaign not only targeted consumers, it also involved one other important group – REI employees. Employees were given Black Friday off as REI closed its stores, and they were encouraged to explore the outdoors and share photos on social media, generating plenty of positive social media activity with people in outdoor spaces representing REI.

Key takeaway: Big picture strategy. Too often brands can get drawn in by the temptation to make a sale, and can miss the big picture: sometimes it’s just as important to tap into culture and be part of the conversation. This isn’t guaranteed to lead to direct or immediate sales, but it definitely helps build brand image and loyalty among consumers, which is much harder to capture than a quickie sale on Black Friday.

Columbia “Gear Up Give Back”

Columbia’s cause marketing campaign donated a percentage of sales to local conservation causes, and also partnered with nonprofits to educate shoppers in stores. Shoppers were invited to columbia cause marketing good solutions group marketing agency “Gear Up, Give Back” and could help raise funds simply by making a regular purchase (no extra donations necessary). The campaign resulted in a significant traffic and sales lift and strengthened Columbia’s relationship with popular local non-profits.

Key takeaway: Bring the cause to your consumers  Consumers want to help, but want it to be easy and accessible.  According to a 2014 study by MSL Group, 69% of millennials worldwide want businesses to facilitate their involvement in addressing social challenges. Campaigns must not only be tied to a cause, but should make it easy for consumers to take part.

Walgreens “Red Nose Day” 

Red Nose Day introduced a lighter side to a heavy cause: children’s poverty. Walgreens made fundraising, well, “fun” and kept it light. Red noses were sold across Walgreens stores for $1.00 (how can you not buy one of these and post a selfie?) making it incredibly easy for consumers to get involved. In addition, featured red products were prominently displayed on a dedicated shelf so that customers could purchase additional items that would contribute more funds to the cause.Walgreens Red Nose Day Cause Marketing Campaign

Key Takeaway: Make it fun!  Poverty is a health issue which is relevant to Walgreen’s business mission to ‘Champion Everyone’s Right to be Healthy and Happy’, but that doesn’t mean the campaign can’t be fun. The comedic twist on things is unexpected and inviting. This campaign did an excellent job at facilitating consumer involvement and engagement, and raised over $31.5 million for the cause.

Our favorite campaigns of 2016 stood out, and taught us something. How can you set yourself apart while bringing your cause closer to your consumers this year?  We’d be happy to help!  Reach out at mgrzelecki@goodsolutionsgroup.com to learn more.