Porter Novelli

Many of the trends driving menu and product development stem from consumers’ risings interest in the origins of their food, where it’s grown and how it’s cultivated. They’re developing an understanding for agriculture, watching the Food Network, traveling the world with Anthony Bourdain and buying from their local farmer’s market. They’ve also begun seeking out products that are “natural,” “organic” and “real.”

Motivated by some of the additional trends influencing demand – hand-crafted, local and sustainable – it can be tempting for manufacturers to label their products with these popular buzzwords to in order to appeal to a broader customer base. But, is there a better way for brands to speak more transparently about products without falling into the buzzword trap?

Here are a few tips for marketers to best serve their customers, build brand value and speak truthfully about their products:

  • Focus on what’s in it: Consumers seeking “all-natural” and “real” very simply just want foods that are less processed and made with ingredients that they can recognize and pronounce. There are many positive ways to highlight a product’s best attributes without using blanket terms like “all natural” that could potentially be misleading. Call out easy-to-identify ingredients like dried fruits, nuts or grains, and emphasize nutritional qualities like “fiber,” “protein” or “energy.”
  • Focus on what’s not in it: If consumers know what they want in a food product, it’s likely they know what they don’t want. Relay the facts with terms like “no artificial colors,” “no preservatives” or “no added sugar.”
  • Stay aboveboard: According to FoodNavigator-USA, with no current legal definition of ‘natural’ by the FDA, ‘natural’ claims are an area of food labeling laden with ambiguity and potential legal repercussions. If you’re going to label a product “all natural,” “authentic” or “real,” it’s more important than ever to make sure that it is.