Can Nutrition Marketing Work Without a Story?

Your food brand might be doing just great through distribution, price and taste, but a differentiating story can keep your consumer base growing, stave off competition and help ensure your continued success.

In the beginning, there were Snap Pea Crisps — and they were good. A brand new idea in snacking — green peas, ground up, mixed with magical dusts, reshaped to resemble a pea pod, baked, bagged and eaten by the billions. I can only assume this last part, since the brand is still around, rebranded Harvest Snaps to allow the company to deliciously enslave other legumes — lentils and  black beans thus far.

Today, I tried one of their latest incarnations — Black Bean Mango Chili Lime. A-mazing flavor, albeit with a slight aftertaste that’s easily removed by simply eating more.

While they were alone on the shelf for a while, imitators, or flatterers if you believe the old adage, have joined them. Peeled Snacks introduced Peas Please (which are good), even Whole Foods’ 365 brand has a version (which are good). But Harvest Snaps have stayed ahead of the game by continually innovating with new beans and flavors.

Naturally, I thought they’d have an incredible story to match. But the package romance paragraph was a lackluster ode to the origins of black beans and the site offers even less. What gives guys? Maybe it’s because Harvest Snaps is owned by Japanese company Calbee, maybe it’s because they’re crushing their sales numbers, or perhaps they really don’t see much competition (although they’re in the chip aisle, which I would call the Godzilla of a competitive set).

Most likely, sadly, they simply don’t see the value of communicating with their consumers in a meaningful way. What would I do if I were suddenly made their CSO (Chief Storytelling Officer)?

  • Own beans, peas, lentils, chickpeas and every other legume as it relates to snacking. “From the bean-dream-team,” “The goodness of legumes, snackitized,” “The only beans you need.” Those are just off the cuff and fairly terrible, but I’d position Harvest Snaps as THE player in this category —their innovation backs that up. Speaking of which…
  • Own snacking innovation — people are always looking for something new to reduce their food-guilt. Why not make Harvest Snaps the brand that will continuously bring new and better ways to stuff your gob? This would also allow them to go outside legumes to other things that are “harvested.”
  • Own taste — as newcomers to the aisle keep coming, people start asking questions: “Why not try something new?” “Why not try something cheaper?” “Why not try something on sale?” Harvest Snaps could at the very least, offer up some counter arguments based on superior taste, innovative flavors, new legume varieties.

So, I take my hat off (and I wear a lot of hats) to these guys — fantastic product and clearly a big success. I’d simply argue that putting some time, effort and yes, money into storytelling would help them climb that big old money beanstalk to the sky.

There you go — and if you’re still not sure what to do, let’s chat.

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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