“Previously our bars had names like ‘Thai Bar’ and ‘Aztec Bar’ and ‘Chaco,’ and it was confusing for people because they didn’t know what was the brand and what was the flavor. … So, we eliminated some of the confusion” by replacing the old names with simple descriptions of the flavors, such as peanut butter & chocolate and dark chocolate, coffee and cayenne, he explained to FoodNavigator-USA at Natural Products Expo West earlier this month.
Changing the names also eliminated the risk that Chapul unintentionally appropriated a specific culture, he added.
“There was a lot of thought that went into the original names. Like Chaco is a Native American culture and that was our American flavor. The Thai Bar came from Thailand’s really deep history of insect consumption, so that was coconut, ginger, lime profile. … But we certainly didn’t want to appropriate a culture that was not ours,” he explained.
Chapul brings nutrition front-and-center
Simplifying the flavor names also allowed the company to bring up the brand name – Chapul – to the center of the package along with the brand’s icon, which features a line drawing of a cricket.
Including the cricket in the center of the package also helps the bar stand out from competitors by highlighting its unique ingredient source, the health benefits of which are now prominently discussed on the back of the package.
“With twice the protein of beef, three times more iron than spinach, and twice the vitamin B12 as salmon, Chapul’s signature Cricket Protein is made for those with the highest nutrition standards and offers a sustainable response to emerging food security challenges,” the back of pack claims.
Crowley explained that the company decided to give top billing to the nutritional benefits, rather than the environmental ones, because they are “more prominent drivers to purchase.”
He added, “The line I was telling our staff was our mission is sustainability of our food supply, and we will accomplish that more if we talk about it less,” because environmental factors are lower down on the list of incentives to purchase than nutritional information for most consumers.
A ‘warrior-esque’ woman challenges consumers to try the bars
Finally, the company replaced the line drawings of foreign lands that previously appeared on the front of the package and corresponded with the old flavor names with a partial photograph of a woman’s face with a dark smudge under her eye that is reminiscent of ceremonial paint worn by warriors or the paint worn by modern day American football players, Crowley said.
“We wanted some sort of warrior-esque [image],” to encourage consumers to be brave about trying an unfamiliar insect-based product, he explained.
“All the science about consumer acceptance of new ideas is based on neophobia, or fear of the unknown, and that manifests in disgust or the idea that ‘I can’t do this.’ So, we are really trying to play on that emotion and capture that emotional experience of how you have to overcome a little bit of fear, you have to challenge yourself and stand up for a more sustainable future, better health and you may have to do things differently and be uncomfortable. So, we tried to encapsulate all of that in the image,” he explained.
The company also took a “leap,” by using a photo of a woman, rather than a man, given its research showed that men are more likely to try new products and that the company’s existing consumer base is 70% men, Crowley said.
He explained that despite this, the company wanted to use a female in order to be more “forward thinking” and expand its consumers base. In addition, he said the value proposition of cricket protein is “incredibly high” for females given it is high B12 and iron amounts and that iron deficiencies are prominent in females.
“Plus, the future is female,” he added.
For Chapul the future also is different insects
The future for Chapul also includes new products using different insects as base ingredients, Crowley said.
For example, he said, the company is looking at oil from meal worms, which have “an incredible omega profile and huge antimicrobial properties.”