July 23, 2024


World's finest Food

Healthy in the Wrong Way: When Food Marketers Don’t Listen

Using details on foodstuff-declare frequency collected by Mintel Corporation, we identified that “clean” statements – labels that stress very little synthetic has been included – are the fastest-rising classification in each France and the US.  ­­

“Enriched” promises are the minimum utilized, while “diet” claims grew equally in each nations. “Whole” statements like “wholesome” or “organic” grew faster in France and are now the next most well-known class, whilst they remained in third area in the US.

French match, US mismatch

We then took a closer look at how this contrasts with purchaser tastes in just about every country. While prior study has concentrated on company behaviour or shopper reaction, it is uncommon to have both in the similar analyze. 

We gathered and evaluated data on client preferences for these 4 types of claims from two samples of French and American people matched on age, gender, income and education amounts. 

Our conclusions indicate that Americans prefer claims about the presence of very good than about the absence of poor, as illustrated in the top remaining chart.

Healthy in the Wrong Way: When Food Marketers Don’t Listen

French customers, on the other hand, like nature-dependent promises that the solution is healthier simply because its organic homes have been preserved. This acquiring is presented in the base still left chart where by we see the eco-friendly line (indicating choices for mother nature-based statements) is earlier mentioned the yellow line (diet-primarily based promises).

These marked purchaser tastes really should make it uncomplicated for marketers to give folks what they want. We found this was the circumstance in France exactly where statements that consumers like most are also extra commonly employed on cereal packaging. As a outcome, the base appropriate chart, exhibiting claim frequency, intently matches the base remaining chart.

On the other hand, things are completely different in the US, in which there is a huge mismatch in between the claims that men and women like and the claims that companies are applying. The the very least-well known promises, those about “diet”, are pretty usually applied, when the preferred promises about products and solutions remaining “enriched” are a lot fewer repeated.

Why the US got it erroneous

To realize why there is this mismatch, we pooled knowledge on business possession. Our conclusions suggest that general public businesses make fewer overall health statements on their packaging than private providers in each countries and however have the best matching charges. This indicates that businesses can correctly match consumer anticipations without having generating lots of wellbeing promises if they are the suitable types.

While big cereal brands like Kellogg’s and Basic Mills market their solutions in the way American individuals favor, we observed that scaled-down, privately-owned firms are much more possible to use “diet” promises that people today like much less. In distinction, French privately-owned firms make the exact same kind of promises that public providers make.

We explored numerous hypotheses as to why private providers are not promoting their products and solutions to fulfill consumers’ anticipations. The just one that we believe is plausible is that these scaled-down American companies are driven by a mission to make improvements to the health and fitness of consumers, instead of just producing health statements that shoppers like. These businesses are in actuality doing what is much healthier, which is to eliminate salt, sugar and other additives.

We came to this conclusion by analysing the names of the privately-owned companies. We observed a higher proportion of people that have company names referencing nutrition or wellbeing, this sort of as “Low Karb”. This could describe why these organizations really do not give people today what they want – they are centered on giving men and women what they really should eat, which is more healthy meals. 

It is fascinating to see that not all providers are client-oriented in the way we believe them to be. They do not essentially concentration on what the market place would like. This could be for the reason that they are following a niche approach in which they only go following compact subsegments of men and women who really want to eliminate fat.

Alternatively, it could be due to the fact they want to be the “good guys” and are going earlier mentioned and further than what customers want. What we are viewing in the US facts suggests that some smaller sized firms have an understanding of they have a responsibility to supply additional healthy solutions.

Redefining ‘healthy’ and other abstract conditions

It is tricky for companies when people are attracted to buzzwords like “natural”, “fresh” or “organic”, as these statements are not scientifically regulated and have no affiliation with the dietary excellent of the food items. Food marketers have to have to understand how buyers are decoding healthier food items, and continue to keep keep track of of how these viewpoints modify, even when they do not align with diet.

These conceptual, catch-all phrases prolong past the food stuff industry. Approximately every single corporation wishes their products to be “cool” or “high quality”. Even so, these phrases can be interpreted in numerous diverse approaches. It is for that reason essential to unpack what individuals suggest when they use these informal terms. Usually, we imagine we fully grasp each other, but we are chatting about vastly distinct points. 


Pierre Chandon is the L’Oréal Chaired Professor of Marketing – Innovation and Creativeness at INSEAD and the Director of the INSEAD-Sorbonne Université Behavioural Lab. Watch his TEDxINSEAD talk on Epicurean nudges.

Romain Cadario is an Assistant Professor at the Rotterdam Faculty of Management, Erasmus University.

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