Better Nutrition Marketing by Meeting Consumers Where They Are

Match your marketing language to the sophistication of your consumers in every instance, and get better results.

There’s a lot of “blow it by them” happening in food marketing these days. For instance, at Expo West, I saw so many brands touting a single ingredient as if that was enough to get people to buy:

  • Now with Adaptogens
  • Now with Collagen protein
  • Now with Turmeric
  • Now with, “Huh?”

I mean, we all know consumers get hooked by the latest buzz-ingredient — and it’s easy to just slap that magic whatever on the label and call it a day. But according to this article by FoodNavigator-USA Editor, Elaine Watson​​, there’s a better way to connect with consumers. And that has to do with customizing your language to your audience (and you might have more than one audience, right?)

Elaine’s article uses a discussion around probiotic marketing as an example. According to Hartman Group SVP, Shelly Balanko, PhD, decisions consumers make are largely dependent on how engaged they are with their own health.

For some consumers, digestive health is about avoiding foods that make them feel bloated or lethargic, for some, it’s about ‘roughage’ and ‘regularity,’ while for others it’s about keeping their guts happy with prebiotics and probiotics.

Dr. Balanko continued with a more specific message to marketers: “For a huge CPG brand that’s talking to the mainstream consumer, I think it makes a lot of sense to link digestive health to energy, whereas for smaller brands with unique ingredients targeting more engaged consumers, we’d say yes, absolutely, talk about the relationship between healthy digestion and the health of the microbiome.”

My suggestion, instead of simply relying on the latest in vogue ingredient or claim, is to dig a little deeper to really understand how your consumers feel and more importantly, what they know. How?

  • Good old-fashioned desktop research. Have your marketing interns do a deep dive online to find prevailing attitudes around whatever it is you’re pitching. Deep, okay?
  • Invite consumers in for a chat — rather than focus groups, which in my opinion are poisoned by group think, find some willing consumers in your area from an email request. Give them product for a year in exchange for a face-to-face discussion with the marketing team. Ask probing questions.
  • Get a talented researcher to execute remote ethnographies — this is a really detailed form of research that asks consumers about their lives, their emotions around family, aging, health, food, and leads ultimately to a trip to the store and a review of various brands, ingredients and claims. It’s a little pricier, but research (check out The Journal of Consumer Research) has proven it’s about the best way to get data you can trust. It’s super cool.

The more you know your consumers, the more specifically your marketing can solve their problems — which for me, beats the crap out of just shouting “BONE BROTH (replace with your miracle).”

Be digestible. And thanks.

Eric Kiker: Speaker

Author of The Digestible Brand: The Secret Sauce for Marketing Nutrition to the Confused Consumer

Agency Principal/LRXD

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