Consumers blinded by product claims

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Brand, Marketing

Food manufacturers are confusing consumers by overdoing the number of claims they make on products and need to go back to a simpler style of labeling, according to a new report.

Companies need to make packaging clearer and less complicated so that the core brand message is not “diluted”​ and consumers can easily identify with the claims, said the report from Business Insights, called Promoting Brand Simplicity in Food and Drinks: Reducing product claims, brand dilution and private label threat.

It said: “As new trends impact the food and drinks industry, existing brands often try to appeal to new consumers by making a large amount of product claims.

“Claims have got more and more scientific and many consumers do not understand the benefits of products containing 32 percent flaxseeds, for example.

“Although there is not a set number of claims that products should have it is important that there are not too many claims on packaging.”

The report suggests that claims on packaging should promote product simplicity so that it is clear to the consumer exactly what the product does and its positioning.

Natasha Horton, Consumer Goods analyst at Business Insights and author of the report, told FoodNavigator-USA.com: “This report focuses on ways that manufacturers and retailers can market simplicity as a premium product attribute.

“There are many complexities that consumers have to deal with during the shopping trip, and manufacturers need to make purchasing decisions easier for consumers.

“Consumers need to be able to easily choose brands, understand their positioning and their brand values.”

Horton said to promote simplicity, brand values need to be refined, which could involve going back to original packaging and tag lines “following extensive diversification and proliferation of a brand”​ and making packaging clearer by taking away complex claims.

Brand positioning

The report, covering products launched in the US and Europe between 2005 and 2008, said that the amount of products with ten or more claims was increasing. And this could make it difficult for consumers to clearly understand the brand’s positioning.

The most common claim was “upscale”​ as manufacturers were developing premium products to attract consumers willing to pay a premium for food and drinks they perceive to be of a high quality.

It said this was a result of manufacturers developing healthy products that also have a premium positioning but said there was an opportunity here “to target consumers with food and drinks that have a simplistic positioning, yet demand a premium”.

The second most popular claim was “natural”​, which was followed by “single serving”​ and “organic”.

The report highlighted a large consumer demand for organic due to environmental concerns, giving Cadbury’s Green & Black’s chocolate as an example of a product with simple organic positioning that consumers can easily identify with.

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