Expo East Review: Digital Marketing


Our team attended Expo East a few weeks ago in Philadelphia. Since starting in 2018 this was our first Expo experience.

Before attending, as a team we segmented the brands & partners we wanted to meet with by:

  • Current clients & partners.
  • Brands we have been introduced to in the past, and see potential to work with.
  • A handful of prospective brands we feel would be a solid fit to our services.


Our main objective was to speak to and learn everything we can from these brands. What areas of our scope do F&B brands need most if any? What are the overall trends and patterns across digital? We don’t routinely collaborate with other digital agencies, so this insight was telling to where we are as digital strategists.

Obviously, some of the responses varied pending on the sizes of the brands. For example, we spoke with some teams with a full marketing department (Director of Marketing, Marketing Coordinator, etc) other teams just directly w/ the founder.


Here are the common responses & trends we noticed when meeting with non/prospective clients:

They are trying some of these platforms themselves, but they “don’t really know” what they are doing:

Some of these platforms have taken off since 2020 (COVID), retail established brands are still playing catchup with some of these advertising platforms and learning their meaning and effectiveness.

It sounded like most at least got the base properly set up and are moving products on these platforms, but aren’t taking the time (because they are too busy or understaffed) or paying enough attention to successfully scale. 

We heard this primarily while discussing Amazon then some Instacart & Online grocery as well.

With that being said, a handful of these brands were planning on and willing to eventually allocate significant ad budgets towards these platforms because they at the least understand the potential of the platforms.


They know they need to be investing in certain platforms, but they don’t know where to start:

These were basically our Instacart conversations in one sentence. Everyone not already advertising on Instacart wanted to get started but didn’t know how to. This is a major missed opportunity to help fuel in-store velocity.

Getting setup on Instacart is easier than any other platform we have worked with in our existense.

With some older more established brands, we heard this regarding organic, influencer and content. They know they need to “modernize” their look, but don’t know how much it would cost, where to go, or how to do it right. We can’t blame them either. When they started large agencies charging for commercial style content was the norm in comparison to user generated and influencer content.


Many brands were considering reactivating DTC platforms (Instagram, Facebook, etc.) after a long pause:

DTC advertising platforms got bashed the past year or so in the marketing world. This was mostly from the IOS updates altering the ability to track conversions and attribution.

It sounded as if many brands were looking to reactivate the platforms for Holiday/Q4 and then most especially Q1 (Better for you season).

I think at this point it’s understood we will never track conversions and get the powerful lookalike audiences of 2016, but these social platforms are tremendous for traffic and overall awareness. People have accepted that and want to reactive them.


Retail/In-store Sales have become the clear priority, but all brands are seeking an efficient and effective Omnichannel digital strategy:

It’s no longer a surprise, since COVID trends have faded, DTC has slowed down and retail is the clear sustainable outlet. With that being said, each segment (Amazon, DTC, Online Grocery) plays its part in the consumer’s path to purchase within the digital ecosystem.

It’s important to be present where the consumer lives and provide a credible introduction + clear path to purchase wherever they choose to convert.



Overall it sounds like everyone now knows what they should be doing in a post COVID (but still present) world. It’s just a matter of getting the right partners to set up and manage everything at an efficient cost. Watching all of these F&B brands get in money trouble/go out of business the past 6 months is making all brands think twice before spending, and we don’t blame them.

Essentially nothing is what it was even 5 years ago. Facebook Marketing, influencers, etc. Adapting to these dynamic platforms is nothing short of challenging.

If you have any questions, or are interested in activating any of the platforms we discuss, please fill out the form below or reach out to info@gawronskimedia.com

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