The annual pilgrimage to Expo. The calendar is flying, reservations have been booked and changed at least once, team meetings are being scheduled, and networking coffee dates are mounting up at an alarming rate. Not to worry!  Let us be your guide to not only surviving but thriving at this year’s Expo.

3 Ways to Gather Insights from Insights Director, Claire Farber


1 . Give yourself more time than you think you need.

This, coming from the woman who for years tried to figure out the last possible flight in and out of LAX. However, I’ve noticed that consistently leaves me feeling rushed, slightly anxious, and often leaving with a nagging feeling like I may have missed something, maybe even something really important. 

2. Get there early enough in the week to check out the little guys.

While your mind and your feet are still fresh, visit those start-up entrepreneurs who have traded a year’s worth of lunch money in order to display their idea at the North Halls. These folks are the heart and soul of what the natural products industry is all about so try not to pass them by. If not always the products, their devotion should stir your soul.

3. Keep your EARS open. 

Expo is such a visually overloading experience, and we tend to march down the aisles as quickly as possible to cover the most ground.  But remember to use your ears and LISTEN.  Ask questions.  Find out what inspired some of the young vendors.  Probe for the insights they saw that inspired them to create something new. Maybe even listen (eavesdropping IS allowed) to what sparks conversation among other hall-walkers. 

If time allows, walk the halls of categories that hold absolutely no interest for you. Yes, it may feel a bit like a waste of time, but you’re looking for themes here -commonalities in the consumer experience that are being addressed.

Lastly, be mindful, and pay attention to surprises, maybe even the ideas you think are really strange, or even really bad. It’s easy to walk by and smirk but take a moment to ponder. Ask yourself or your colleagues what might have caused someone to think this was a good idea.  What frustrations or annoyances might they have been trying to solve for? You may not care for the final product, but you may just be inspired by the underlying insight.

3 Survival Tips from CEO, Rob Volpe

It all comes down to shoes, water, and selective sampling.


1.    Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support. 

When 86,000 people descend on a space, you can expect lines, shuffling along, and no place to sit and rest your legs.  I wear shoes that I know will be comfortable on relatively hard floors and will support my feet.  Leave the stilettos at home this trip.

2.    Drink plenty of water.

Hydration is critical. Not only because you are going to be tasting a lot of food, but you are talking a lot, maybe drinking alcohol and, let’s face it, Southern California is a desert.  I make sure I take a Drip Drop every day when I’m on the road to help with hydration.  I also like to have a bottle of water with me to sip on. It helps with my next recommendation.  Fortunately, last year there were plenty of water companies handing out free samples so we were never lacking. 

3.    Be selective with the samples.

Yes, it's the natural and organic show, but you can find yourself eating some odd combinations of food.  Pizza chased by vinegar shots followed by ice cream?  And even though it’s healthy, there are still a lot of calories.  You still have that dinner and drinks to go to.  Who wants to come away from a natural organic show and have gained weight!?!  Take your time, be selective in what you sample, and save room for the corrective salad you’ll be craving at dinner.

3 FREE Digital Tools to make navigating the show easier from Creative Director, Robin Algaze

Just a few minutes of downloading will make the convention floor easier to navigate and let you focus on what’s important.


Being a veteran of industry trade shows, I never set foot out the door without doing some high-tech reconnaissance.

1. The Campus Map

Get a jump on the crowds and get comfortable with your surroundings by getting a lay of the land – before you ever set foot on site.

This birds-eye view of the Anaheim Campus includes the location of all exhibit halls, badge pick-up, and more, including the two Starbucks on campus!

2. The Official App of Natural Products Expo West

Available for both Apple and Android, this extremely handy tool provides all the show information right at your fingertips. From a complete Exhibitor list and online booth profile views to a complete show floor plan you can access immediately to find the products/companies you don’t want to miss, and of course, the bathrooms.

You’ll also have access to featured exhibitors, show specials, and new products (#showmetheinnovation). There’s even a function to help you connect with other attendees.

3. The Events and Education section of Expo West’s Website

It may seem obvious – but taking time to peruse this curated Expo West content will inspire and motivate you. You may even find a few gems you may have missed – such as the early morning yoga sessions to start your day centered and rejuvenated. and a morning mediation to reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity (something you’ll crave by Thursday even more than the free dark chocolate samples).

One of our favorite picks - Antoine Ambert, Director of Marketing and Innovation at Alter Eco Foods – speaking on sustainable packaging!

Remember that as strategists, researchers, innovators and marketers, we are all hunting for those insights that will lead us to the next generation of innovations…perhaps ones that will make it to the Hot Products tent in 2020! Stay alert, stay hydrated, and map your path.

Going to be at Expo West this year? Let’s walk one of the aisles together! Email Rob Volpe at

AND… follow us on Instagram March 5-9 for real-time insights from the show floor!