The World Health Organisation’s latest report on sugary and fatty foods has produced a flurry of activity and comment (MW May 1). Speaking at a food sector conference recently, I had occasion to debate the effects this report may have on food brands.
The trend for being health conscious and concerned about food ingredients is not a new phenomenon; it is one that has been building for some time. Indeed much product development over the past decade reflects this shift. However, I think we have only been tinkering at the surface of this issue with our obsession with “lower fat” this and “calorie reduced” that. What is really needed is a change in brand and product development.
The majority of development has been to create new usage opportunities with the benefit of changing consumers’ perceptions of a brand. Moving, for instance, a brand from confectionery only into dessert or snack. But, as far as I know, no one has yet reassessed what these brands stand for and how far they can really go in terms of product development and positioning.
In facing this fundamental social shift it is to the brand that one must again turn.
To assess what it is now, what it has been and what it might be, how it behaves and performs and how it can be moved in terms of unique delivery, format or process. Only then will it be possible to find which aspects can be used to create a new proposition and change in message. Indeed it may well be time to create a change in consumers’ relationship with a whole category: a change in perceptions, expectations and experiences of consumption.
Perhaps it is time to reinvent, through new ingredients, new language and new experiences that will explode some marketing myths and create new opportunities, building from a brand base, by recreating the context.