FDA Finally Admits… They Might Be Wrong.

Which one do you think is healthy between a handful of almonds and a Pop-Tart? Or between an avocado and a can of SpaghettiOs? Probably not the one you have in mind based on the current FDA definition. As explained in this recent article of the WSJ (or see the video below), food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets five criteria: fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin C or Calcium.

But it might change. Under the pressure of some food companies the FDA admitted that it is time to revisit the definition of this term. At Buzzback we already explored the meaning of healthy at several occasions.

In 2013, BuzzBack conducted a study on consumers’ perception of ‘Healthy’ and found that it was associated with words one would expect to see – active, exercise, balance, and happiness; with unique callouts to predictable descriptors such as ‘organic,’ ‘wholesome,’ and ‘natural’ within various markets. And when we asked about healthy snacks, respondents mentioned across the globe fruit, yogurt, nuts, and dried fruit. In the US, they particularly focused on low sugar to define what makes a healthy snack, however the FDA doesn’t even list sugar as a criteria. The public definitely does not share the same definition as the FDA but the US regulator is ready to hear what they have to say as well as food experts.

Across many studies we conducted for our CPG clients, we observe that consumers want more clarity in the labels of products they buy at their grocery store. Beyond helping the FDA to redefine overused mentions as ‘healthy’ or ‘natural,’ food manufacturers have to work more broadly on making their labels more transparent to answer the consumers’ request for a clean label. Stay tuned as we are working on a new study about clean labels as we continue to explore the meaning of healthy.

For more information on our Healthy, Natural or Sustainability studies, click here.

 

FDA healthy

There’s a Bug in My Soup…On Purpose

When the U.N. declared back in 2013 that we humans should eat more bugs, it was an idea that many couldn’t stomach. This suggestion was made as part of the UN’s larger and quite serious focus on global environmental issues and potential food shortages. And no matter how queasy the notion might make someone, edible insects are rich in protein and sourcing them has low environmental impact. In many parts of the world, bug eating is not some foodie trend, but a way of life. Deep friend insects can be bought from Thai street vendors as easily as a hot dog from a food cart in Manhattan.

National Public Radio recently profiled a Thai entrepreneur looking to bring this favorite street food to the grocery and minimart snack aisle. To woo the uninitiated bug eater, he is relying on familiar chip and crisps flavors like barbecue and cheese, while on-pack messaging promotes the health benefits of the treat inside. Are bug products on their way to becoming the subject of MR explorations of the future? Will BuzzBack soon be leading eCollage studies to determine the best positioning for mealworm larva puffs or cricket breakfast flakes (Try them with milk!). And how would we tackle the concept generation sessions on potential flavors?

It makes one wonder – is the ick factor culturally ingrained? Earlier this year we released a report that explored global attitudes around the idea of Healthy – which included snacking. No one in Russia, Brazil or the U.S. named a single insect to their list of sought after healthy snacks.

That would suggest that Americans probably aren’t quite ready to view bugs tossed in their salad as a welcome addition – this still ranks up there as a legitimate reason to complain to the waiter.  However, American consumers have been enjoying a bug-based additive already – and most are probably not even aware that they are. Chochineal, carmine or carminic acid is a colorant made from crushed South American insects that give many processed foods their red color.

But bugs by choice? It’s going to take some marketing brilliance and powerful positioning to make that idea palatable. And maybe it will be the Millennials who will lead the way on insect cuisine. Our most recent study of their attitudes and behavior when it comes to food & nutrition found them to be more adventurous and willing to try new things. But to be fair, we didn’t specifically ask them if those new things had antennae or ectoskeletons.

To learn more about our Healthy Report or get more information about Millennials & Nutrition, click here.

eating bugs

Food, Friends, Fun: Courting the Millennial Diner

Have you heard? Endless Appetizers are better and back at TGIFridays. Not on your radar? Maybe because chances are you aren’t part of the most coveted consumer group today, Millennials.

The casual dining chain is just the latest using behavioral lures to fill seats with GenY spenders.  Endless  Apps were a very successful gimmick last year, especially with Millennial diners. This time around, the chain is removing limits on choices – a rule that Millennials found unappealing.

TGIFridays strategy aligns with our recent findings around Millennials and food. Our study shows that food Gen Yers are particularly interested in experimenting with food, creating experiences around dining, and sharing the occasion with others.  By allowing Millennials to customize their meal with friends around small plates is a home run for the chain. 

Is your food, beverage or dining brand clicking with Millennials? Hear the latest insights that could help your positioning and product development efforts in our upcoming webinar, Understanding How Millennials View Food & Nutrition.  We’ll be covering behavior, emotions, influences, and more. Click to register for Tuesday, March 10th or Wednesday, March 11th.

millennials-eating

Dining Trends in the Age of Millennials

Are Millennials behind the demise of fast food as we know it? Or to borrow from Mark Twain, are the reports of McDonald’s death greatly exaggerated? If you’ve been reading the financial news, McDonald’s seems to be in trouble – the theories abound as to why. Some point an accusatory finger at Millennials.

We have already written about the challenges of consumer product companies and fast casual establishments in capturing the taste buds of the coveted consumer group born between 1981-2000: Millennials. Their habits and preferences are shaking things up across multiple categories. Gen Y seems to increasingly favour companies like Chipotle and Panera, as well as Shake Shack and Five Guys. What’s notable is that all of these are part of the “fast casual” dining trend.

So what’s the link between Millennials and this trend? We recently conducted a study of Millennials and their attitudes about nutrition, and we are presenting at the Food & Drink Innovation Network conference in London.  Our study finds that taste, quality and experience matter tremendously to the Gen Y consumer – all hallmarks of the “fast casual”.

To Millennials, overall nutrition is important, and they want fast food to be healthier and better quality. While they are active and conscientious grocery shoppers, they do allot a significant portion of their budget to eating out. That means there’s significant opportunity for restaurant marketers to capture share of wallet.

To receive an executive brief of our Millennials & Nutrition findings, click here. And watch this space for the webinar on the subject in March.

Millennials dining trends

Exploring Healthy Snacking: What are words worth?

Exploring Healthy Snacking is the 5th installment of our white papers that investigate consumer language. Our innovative online research techniques gain insight into consumer associations with the word Healthy –expressed in pictures, thoughts, feelings – as well as attributes and other descriptors. We interviewed more than 2,400 consumers in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Russia and Germany.

 

In this paper, you will learn how to leverage consumer language and imagery in relation to your core brand positioning and development. To explore consumer associations with the word Healthy & Healthy Snacking –expressed in pictures, thoughts, feelings – as well as attributes and other descriptors, we interviewed more than 2,400 consumers in the US, UK, Brazil, China, Russia and Germany.
For more information, please get in touch with us using the form below.

Healthy Snacking