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?
Is it trust, adaptability, responsiveness, efficiency, talent or pure chemistry that defines the best client-agency relationships in 2016 and beyond? We’ve watched clients bring design in-house and then out and in again, and have seen agencies expand and contract capabilities as clients ask for more or less (Yes! We now are ‘social/digital/multi-cultural/influencer’ experts). After years of change, it seems like the dust is settling and we’re seeing some key themes emerge that define what it means to cultivate a successful and productive client-agency relationship.
At this year’s AMA BrandSmart Conference in Chicago, Trinity was invited to moderate a panel discussion between B2B and B2Cclient-agency teams who seem to have the formula for success figured out. As the selected moderator, I facilitated discussions that included age-old truths and sound nuggets of wisdom from partnerships that have stood the test of time to produce outstanding business-driving work. Here are three themes we think are worth sharing:
Most agencies tout their ability to be transparent and collaborative with their clients. I happen to think Trinity does it better than most. But still, agencies (and some clients) like to have the “big reveal” moment. That’s a mindset of the past. The best work is done when we break down the us/them walls and give our partners the credit they are due. It’s a two-way street. Our panel reiterated the idea that they found success by inviting creative partners into business meetings (not just the account team) and client marketers into creative sessions. Opening the doors, being vulnerable and unveiling plans while they are soft and malleable can yield even better work. It’s not a turf war—heck, our clients aren’t really trying to design their next package—but more an opportunity to make the input and output better.
Be Nimble and Open to Evolution
Our panel readily admitted that no one agency can really do it all, but both agencies interviewed agreed that they have had to expand and redefine their services over time to meet client needs. There’s no way that Energy BBDO could have an 80-year relationship with Wrigley if they still only did print advertising and 15-second TV spots. As an agency, it’s up to us to really listen to our clients, beyond the words they use and keep one step ahead, adapting and innovating to meet their needs. For our clients, being honest about how we can adjust our teams and services to meet changing needs is a welcome conversation. Rather than switching agencies every time the wind blows, the client partners on these panels celebrated their agency relationships that adapted and evolved over time along with their business needs.
Build Trust to Build Business
Being honest—really, really soul-baring honesty with clients can be hard. When agencies are often battling it out for business, sometimes it’s easier to be agreeable and keep the water smooth. But yuck! This is not the way to build a solid and successful client-agency partnership. Probing into this dilemma with our panels, we heard, like a marriage, a strong partnership can only survive and thrive with open dialogue built on trust. With trust comes honesty. With honesty, comes the ability to deliver strong points of view that can be contrary to a client’s brief, business plan or vision. This can be a scary position for agencies to take but one that is built on a belief that open and respectful dialogue can elicit better work when it is not watered down by acquiescence and fear.
As my firm enters into its second decade, I look forward to building more of these honest, nimble, collaborative, evolving and lasting relationships with clients. Let’s grow old together and make amazing work driven by strong strategy along the way.