It May Be a Trend but How Well Does It Connect?


Last week I visited the Naturally Good Expo, a showcase of newly released products targeting those with an interest in health and wellbeing.

Unlike recent years where tumeric and coconut were dominant, this year it was plant based foods that took centre stage. For anyone interested in food trends, this is no surprise.

'Power to the plants' was identified as one of the industries fastest growing trends by Mintel in 2017 and this high level of interest is now reaching a peak. It's being incorporated into products from alternative burgers to plant based beverages, snacks, children's shakes and ready meals.

I even found cashew nuts carrying a claim on the pack that they were 'plant based'. The plant based food trend is now so popular that even plant foods are claiming they are plant based!

It got me thinking about whether cashew nuts carrying a claim they are plant based is helpful for consumers, or whether it simply adds to the clutter on the label.

When it comes to claims, just because you can say something, doesn't always mean you should.

Incorporating new trends into messaging ideally serves to create a point of difference, or to enhance what is already there, rather than simply adding to the clutter. We are now bombarded with so many messages, that simplicity is becoming increasingly attractive.

As Confucious said:

"Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated".

To assist in determining whether a trend creates a connection with your brand that serves to elevate it and not detract, here are three filters that may be useful to consider:

1. Is this trend the right fit? Just because a shoe might be in fashion, doesn't mean it's going to be the right fit, look good on your feet or most importantly, be comfortable to wear.

It's the same with trends – assessing whether a trend is a good fit and naturally comfortable for your brand is worthwhile. This is particularly relevant for those looking to build brand reputation on quality and integrity over the long term, rather than falling for the temptation of looking good in the short term.

Questions to ask include:

  • Will this trend elevate my product compared to competitors?

  • Does it make nutritional sense to associate this trend with my product?

  • Will messages associated with this trend create clutter or clarity around the positioning of my product?

2. What can you say about it? It's important to be clear about what you can and can't say about a trend in advertising and on pack, but also what you could say if you put more work in.

Always check the food regulations first. If a key message can't be used this can be a real barrier to investment. You may have alternative avenues to turn to and in Australia, these include developing a systematic review of the scientific evidence to support a key message and submitting this to the regulatory body to enable you to make your own unique claim that would otherwise not be allowed.

3. How strong is it? When investing in innovation, labelling, packaging and communications you want to make sure a trend not only has popularity, but also has credibility.

Consumer research will give you an idea of popularity but where relevant, checking for any scientific research to support the trend will provide an idea of credibility. This means doing your due diligence and putting more time and effort into understanding a trend before applying it in practise.

Overall, awareness of trends is just the beginning. Investing time and energy into gaining a deeper understanding of what they mean, their relevance to your brand or product, the degree of research to support them and the impact of the regulations on your ability to talk about them, are all important factors to consider before applying trends to marketing and innovation.

In this way, we will continue to enhance our ability to create and market foods in a way that contributes to a better future and that connects in a meaningful way with the growing, more conscious consumer.

For further details, join my upcoming webinar.