There are so many dietary trends to keep up with–from keto, paleo and raw to superfoods, gluten-free, plant-based and macronutrient dense–that it’s getting more challenging to market foods, even to consumers who say they want healthier fare.
After all, healthy isn’t a clearly defined term. One consumer’s healthy food, say fruit, might be on someone else’s no-no list because of its high sugar content.
“It feels like it’s the complexity and sort of the conflicting information that’s actually creating a new barrier to eating healthy,” CJ Gaffney, Partners & Napier’s director of planning, says on the latest episode of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast.
Gaffney, whose agency recently surveyed more than 1,100 U.S. adults about their eating habits, says food marketers should consider using more conversational terms in their campaigns. “Language is critical,” he says.
Brands that focus their marketing on inspiration, rather than ingredients, tend to be perceived as advocates for health even more than brands that are explicitly talking about products’ ingredients and nutrients, he says. And casual and conversational language can help bring in new consumers.
“Language can actually go a long way in terms of getting people over that hump and being willing to try something that is unfamiliar to them,” he says. Brands can “sneak people into doing things more healthy if you kind of use language that doesn’t sound so scary,” he says.
It’s an approach the agency has been working on with cottage cheese, a food that’s often, as Gaffney puts it, lumped into the dieting category and has been struggling to retain consumers’ interest.