Authenticity, emotional connection sell brands better than free-from claims, Foodmix survey finds

By Elizabeth Crawford contact

- Last updated on GMT

Source: iStock
Source: iStock

Related tags: Marketing, Advertising

The highly popular, and arguably over-used strategy of placing free-from claims front and center in food and beverage marketing to woo today’s more health-conscious shopper may not be as effective as some manufactures believe, according to new research from Foodmix Marketing Communications. 

Rather, the full-service brand marketing agency surveyed 1,000 Americans and found that a brand’s values and “personality traits”​ are what make consumers fall in love with it to the point where they will advocate for it to their friends and family.

“Most people like a lot of brands, but there are a few that they really love and are really passionate about,​” said Dan O’Connell, CEO of Foodmix Marketing Communications. Reflecting on the survey, he said “what drives that connection is less about what we have taken out and the claims we added to the product,”​ such as protein-packed or gluten-free, “and it is more about the brand’s personality and whether it fits with the consumers’ lifestyle and fits with their values.”

He explained that qualitative statements, such as those traditionally focused on in marketing, including price, convenience, consistency, ingredients and taste are “the basic foundations of food brand marketing and are characteristics that are expected by consumers. So you are not going to differentiate your product based on those claims. They are just informational.”

Likewise, functional attributes, such as reduced-sodium are important and will drive trial because of consumers’ dietary or lifestyle needs but they don’t “stir passion,”​ O’Connell said.

“Experiential attributes are the ones that really drive that connection and inspire people to talk about a product,”​ and move it out of the friend-zone and into one of love, he added.

Examples of these include “the authenticity of the brand’s story from the farm to the table and way it makes consumers feel authoritative so they can tell their friends about it and share it,”​ he said.

Generational divide

The survey also found that attributes that tipped consumers over from just liking a product to loving it varied slightly by generation.

“Baby-boomers were more connected to a sense of security and stability and something they can trust and know,”​ maybe from childhood or from family traditions, O’Connell said. Whereas Millennials were drawn more to food brands that conveyed a sense of adventure or that were authentic, fun, exciting and creative, he added.

These messages can be conveyed through images on packages or in “about us”​ type stories on the back panel and product website, O’Connell said. He also said the most successful brands work with social media influences to tell their story to consumers or run inspirational campaigns and contests that engage with buyers.

He added: “With the emergence of social media and the sharing culture we live in, successful marketing is not about outshouting or outspending the competition like it was years ago. It is about making a connection and becoming a part of consumers’ daily lives. … Ultimately, the onus is less on the dollar spend and more on creating a resonate story.”

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1 comment

President, McWherter Consulting

Posted by Phil McWherter,

Dan: I believe your insights are right on target. It is refreshing to hear marketing that makes sense

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