Does healthy messaging choke consumer decision making?

23.02.16

Adin Heller

Senior Research Executive, New York

Categories Blog Comment General

An increasing number of brands are using the ‘healthy snacking’ trend to connect with consumers. However, we’ve also seen that the swell of messaging around ‘healthy’ snacks can be too much for the average shopper to cope with. Indeed, despite a general desire to make healthier purchasing decisions, consumers feel barraged with health advice at shelf … Continued

An increasing number of brands are using the ‘healthy snacking’ trend to connect with consumers. However, we’ve also seen that the swell of messaging around ‘healthy’ snacks can be too much for the average shopper to cope with.

Indeed, despite a general desire to make healthier purchasing decisions, consumers feel barraged with health advice at shelf and beyond. As a result, they are increasingly creating their own ways to decode the information overload.

Here are some of the consumer ‘coping strategies’ we’ve observed in recent research…

 

3 CONSUMER COPING STRATEGIES 

  1.  Developing comparative health scales – e.g. ‘granola bars and yogurt are better than chips, candy, or fast food’

2.  Looking for products with fewer ingredients or ‘ingredients I can pronounce’ (often interpreted as an indicator of more ‘natural’ products)

Buddha Bowl popcorn list all three of its ingredients on front of pack
Buddha Bowl popcorn lists all three of its ingredients on front of pack

3. Coming up with their own ‘acceptable’ (and often arbitrary) sugar, fat, and protein levels

Snacks like KIND bars help set consumer expectations for acceptable levels of sugar, fiber, and protein
Snacks like KIND bars help set consumer expectations for acceptable levels of sugar, fiber, and protein

 

The lesson for brands?  We need to negotiate the coping strategies consumers use to navigate our brands.  Some are in our favour – they reinforce healthy messaging and halo our brands.  But others counter our efforts, confuse and ultimately fail to connect with consumers.

In the future therefore, brand design must become effortless.  Consumers feel brands, rather than think them.  These observed coping behaviours reveal a design problem.  They hint at designs’ failure to connect with consumers on an implicit, emotional level.

We’ll be talking in more detail about the future of healthy snacking, and what this means for brand design in our next webinar on 10th March. Sign up here to join us.