Less is More: Shifting the Conversation in the Better-for-You Space

Less is More: Shifting the Conversation in the Better-for-You Space

For years we’ve been hearing that we need to be healthier. This is not new news.

How we market “healthy”, however, has taken a decidedly different turn. This is primarily in response to how consumers’ definition of healthy and their approach to living a healthy lifestyle has evolved. Feeling good about ourselves used to be about depletion and a focus on what was missing, namely excess calories, fat, carbs – you get the point. Today, food and beverage brands are making a positive shift towards what consumers can gain from making healthier choices so that being healthy isn’t just about being thin. Now it’s not about what you’re missing, it’s about what you’re getting that makes you a “better” you.

Look at Special K which evolved from a cereal brand prominently featuring a tape measure graphic and “Special K Challenge” weight-loss message, to a lifestyle brand spanning multiple categories. The brand has repositioned itself in the healthful space with the introduction of a new sub-brand line called Nourish. Certain line extensions highlight the number of “nourishing calories” followed by product benefits such as grams of protein and vitamins to educate consumers about what they’re gaining.

This is just one example of how companies are changing the conversation around healthy from “less than” to “more of” and “free from.” This shift in tone appears to be working.

Over the last few years we’ve watched major food brands publicly and privately start the clean label or “free from” movement. Companies like Kraft and General Mills have decided to focus product innovation on reformulations to remove extra sodium, sugar and artificial coloring and flavor.

Even the likes of Panera and other casual and fast-food restaurants have a list of “no way” ingredients they are phasing out of their offerings. For many brands, their focus on “clean” is a public commitment aimed at rebuilding trust and credibility with consumers who have migrated to healthier choices.

But, while people want better options for themselves and their families, they aren’t always willing to sacrifice taste or flavor which is why household favorites like Kraft Mac and Cheese reformulated under the radar.

This deliberate move went undetected and without complaint from consumers until the company sold 50,000 blue boxes of the new recipe. Kraft then went public with the news that the product had been changed and no one had noticed!

Healthful Meets Indulgence: A Study in Checks and Balances

Like food manufacturers, the alcohol industry is feeling the pressure to not only shift to better-for-you ingredients but also to be more transparent with what’s inside. While the industry is adapting to new labeling rules, the looming question remains: how much do consumers really want to know about their favorite products? Will knowing too much ruin our buzz?

Earlier this year, Constellation Brands launched a new low calorie, low carb beer from Corona called Corona Premier, in select markets nationally. Trinity Brand Group was chosen to help Constellation develop this better-for-you product from naming the product to designing the brand identity and packaging. In developing our strategy, we looked to trends in food and non-alcoholic beverages that didn’t sound or look like the diet products of the past. Black for diet in Coke Zero? Bright colors and bountiful imagery to suggest low calorie? Yes, please!

While calorie and carb counts influence purchase decisions at the store, men in a high-badge category like beer don’t want to be reminded of how many calories they are consuming when in social settings or inadvertently suggest to their buddies that they are watching their waistline simply by the beer they have in hand. For example, “skinny” brands are popular but the word isn’t. We feel affinity toward brands that reward us for our good choices, make us feel empowered, smart and proud.

Given this insight, we developed a different strategy for Premier. The visual identity and name feel like a reward, not a sacrifice. While the product has less calories and carbs than Corona Light, the intention was to help consumers feel great about their choice, proud to bring it to a party, but free from the guilt of indulging in something with loads of calories that would “undo” the hard work they put in at the gym.

For the new adult beverage, Bravazzi Hard Italian Soda, our client, Vivify Beverages, saw an opportunity to develop a product for people who love flavored hard sodas but don’t want the artificial stuff that comes along with them. Gluten free and clocking in at 1/2 of the calories as their competitors, Bravazzi’s blend of natural ingredients provides a fresh, flavorful choice and tastes amazing without anything artificial. The clean, colorful packaging helps sell the product as a “better for you” choice without sacrificing flavor or taste and appeals to men and women alike. And so far, consumers are drinking it up.

While we may not be ready to know exactly what is in everything we eat and drink, the moment for full transparency is coming, ready or not. And when two-thirds of global consumers (68%) say they are willing to pay more for foods without undesirable ingredients*, it may pay in more ways than one for brands to keep focusing on the positive – where less really can mean more.

Tell us: what is your brand doing to give consumers more from less?

*Source: Nielsen’s new Global Health and Ingredient-Sentiment Survey, August 2016