how to stand out as a B2B leader:
what we learned from Vitafoods Europe

Having new colleagues joining the team is always a great moment but especially so, if said colleague is Koen Jacobs, joining us as Senior B2B Consultant with over 20 years of experience in strategic consultancy and international marketing management. As a fully remote team, working from different parts of the world, it is an even nicer moment when we get to meet in person. So on the 10th of May, Peter and Maria had the opportunity to meet with Koen in person at Vitafoods in Geneva. We ganged up and asked Koen what it is like to join HMT and his insights from Vitafoods!

HMT: Now, please be honest and tell us what the first few weeks with HMT have been like! Is there one thing that surprised you when you got to know us as a colleague instead of a customer?

Koen: One of the best things for me is to work with people who share the same values as you. With HMT we share the same passion of building healthy brands and believe these brands can play a huge role in the transitional economy we are in today. But I knew that of course already as a customer. As a colleague, I am impressed about how international the team is, how many languages everyone is speaking and the variety of skillsets we have onboard: from food scientists, to designers, to B2C marketeers… It is really impressive!

HMT: What was it like meeting Peter and Maria in Geneva?

Koen: Peter is much taller than you think in zoom meetings and Maria loves talking a lot *laughs*

HMT: I know you have attended Vitafoods many times in the past, but what was it like this time?

Koen: It was a pleasure to be in Geneva at Vitafoods last week. My first in my new role with the Healthy Marketing Team. To celebrate the 15-year anniversary of HMT we shared our key learnings with business leaders in healthy nutrition. These are insights which we got from helping organisations overcome their challenges. Over the years due to the ever-growing competitive landscape the industry was faced with questions such as:

  • •  how to stand out in a sea of sameness
  • •  how to differentiate ingredient technologies
  • •  how to move from technology push to a customer & consumer pull
  • •  how to move from being one of many ingredient suppliers to becoming the innovation partner
  • •  how to avoid the commodity trap of only competing on price and capacity.

In our many one to one meetings during the show we asked the industry which one of these challenges is most relevant for them and we shared our learnings about how to address them. For example, you can stand out as a B2B leader by building innovative partnerships and not only selling ingredients.

HMT: What would you say is the key for a B2B company to be successful? Does marketing really play a big role in the B2B industry? Isn’t it all about science and technology in that space?

Koen: Having worked with multiple B2B organisations globally and over a long period of time, we have, based on our research, identified 4 steps for staying relevant in this highly competitive industry:

     1. Selling ingredients –> 2. Selling concepts –> 3. Brand and categories –>  4. Innovation partner

  • B2B companies have evolved from single focus ingredient sellers to supporting sales with concept selling. Walking the floor at the show last week we saw many amazing examples of such concepts. Many B2B companies realize the importance of selling more than “just the ingredient”. We think that in order to create a competitive advantage, there are still two further steps to take, beyond concept selling. Step 3: engage with cross-functional teams to co-create brands and innovate whole categories. Step 4: step up into being a true innovation partner. These final steps require the ability to identify and understand the consumer trends and needs as well as the consumer values. To position technologies and ingredients and become and true innovation partner, stellar marketing capabilities are key.

HMT: Did you share these insights with B2B companies during Vitafoods? What was the feedback?

Koen: By showing the roadmap and asking where their organisations are on this journey of becoming the innovation partners they would like to be, interesting discussion arose. A key take away of these conversations, is that many companies are still in the concept selling modus. And to move from selling ingredients towards becoming an innovation partner requires a shift of the company focus and the involvement of multi-disciplinary teams.

HMT: Thank you Koen and wish you all the best in your new role!

Koen: Thank you and also thank you to all the people I had the chance to meet at Vitafoods.


At HMT, with our unique FourFactors® methodology we help client organizations to move from traditional B2B product focus to a strategic B2B2C brand strategy, which is a must to win in today’s highly competitive market. To find out how we do it look at some of our case studies.

We are celebrating our 15-year anniversary and we are offering one hour free consultation to go through any challenge you might have. Please contact Maria at maria@thehmt.com to set up your session now.