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Shifting From Food Marketing to Nutrition Marketing

<p>Building a strong nutrition brand involves careful consideration of the target consumer, including his or her needs, as well as awareness level regarding the ingredients, potential benefits and brand.</p>

Consumers are shifting from counting calories to looking for the right nutrition. This is why you have to say goodbye to food marketing and start to learn the basics of nutrition marketing.

When Kellogg’s CEO John Bryant told investors one reason for the decline of the cereal category was “consumers are changing their views on weight management from ‘reduce calories’ to ‘nutritious foods,’" it suggested the nutrition trend has reached the mass market—and it’s hitting mass-market brands such as Kellogg’s, and whole categories like cereals and soft drinks. He continued, “Special K can absolutely meet that criteria. It’s a very nutrient-dense food form. But we haven’t been communicating it in that way."

The health trend is no longer a health trend—it’s a re-definition of the food market to a market for nutrients. And the purpose of foods is to get people the right nutrients.

Clear evidence indicates the marketing skills of many companies are not up to speed with the evolution in the marketplace, and that the marketers haven’t understood the brutal but simple difference between food and nutrition marketing.

The FourFactors® is based on the understanding that nutrition marketing must combine learnings from both medical and food marketing for success. When it was first introduced, it was as a method to successfully combine the science push of the early functional foods projects, stemming from medical research and ingredient-driven companies, with the necessary consumer pull from the world of consumer brand marketing. The many failures during the first decades of functional nutrition in the United States and Europe were simply due to a lack of comprehending the consumer’s need, acceptance, understanding and trust for these new health-enhancing food and supplement products.

As a result of the analysis of these early failures (and what separated them from contemporary successes), it became clear that the first factor for success was to clarify who needed the product. From there, one had to understand how this target consumer would accept the (often new) ingredient—and more importantly, to understand the potential benefits it could bring—and finally, to trust the brand that brought the new idea.

Building a Strong Nutrition Brand

The purpose of the FourFactors is to make it easy to position brands for success by helping to ask the right questions.

This practical checklist for new product and brand development in nutrition was created and is used to help companies develop new brands and rescue existing ones. In short, it is a tool to help increase the chances of success and reduce the risk of failure.

It is based on decades of global market experience of nutritional marketing successes and failures. The biggest and the most successful nutrition companies have used it and it has been validated by science.

The FourFactors will help decode the complex equation in the consumer’s mind at the point of purchase.

Factor 1: Need the Product – Who, When, Why?

Who is the product intended for? When will it be consumed? Why will it be consumed? This first factor is the basic proposition for the whole brand idea. It concerns the consumer’s lifestyle needs, perception of the brand and relevance to daily life. If you get this factor right, the rest usually follows. Surprisingly often in our analyses of failure cases, this is where health and wellness concepts fail.

Factor 2: Accept the Ingredient – Awareness, Interest, Trend?

What does the target consumer know about what’s in the product formulation? This factor is concerned with the level of consumer awareness of and interest in a product’s ingredients, and also the trends that may help stimulate interest in and demand for that kind of product or its ingredient. In this context, it is good to remember that an ingredient can be seen as anything in the product, as well as its packaging. A consumer perspective must be applied to the product.

Factor 3: Understand the Benefit – Physical, Intellectual, Emotional?

How well does the target consumer understand the benefit(s) the brand offers? This factor relates to simple consumer logic. What is the benefit of the brand? How is it relevant to daily life? Can the user feel or notice the benefit, or does it have to be explained to make the consumer aware of it? And what is the emotional reward for buying the brand? These three levels of benefits—the physical, intellectual and emotional—are vital to develop to make a brand successful.

Factor 4: Trust the Brand – Identity & History, Promise, Image?

This is the key factor for understanding why some brands are successful and others aren’t. A brand can be successful in one market but not in others because of its identity and history.

A brand must be developed carefully so it can be a credible provider of the benefit it promises to offer. The image the brand creates in the mind of the target consumer has a very important role to play in the decision-making process. This is particularly true for emerging markets, as the brand is often a way for the emerging consumer to affirm his or her status in society.

Getting It Right

The key to success is to get all four factors right. Think of them as four notes—like a chord on a piano, they must sound good together.

Peter Wennström is the founder and an expert consultant at HMT (Healthy Marketing Team), an international and multicultural strategy consultancy focused on innovation, marketing and branding in food and health. Since its foundation in 2008, HMT has worked with customer projects in more than 60 countries across the globe. Wennström is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in food and health marketing, and has written several publications on The FourFactors®. His specialty is to take consumer data and market insights from around the world on food/health issues and provide strategic tools that aid marketing teams in making strategic decisions, as well as accelerating brand innovation and new product development (NPD).

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