People eating burgers and fries together around the table

Why emphasising the ‘ethical’ aspects of your product might prove counterproductive

A recent article in MarketingWeek looked into the implications of health-based messages on food products and came to an interesting conclusion: when brands make health-based claims before people taste their product, people actually rate the product as less tasty when they try it. The reason behind this is the importance of expectations regarding food. People assume that healthy foods or diet foods taste worse and this affects the experience. 

study that illustrates this in the article is a 2006 study about yoghurt drinks. All of the respondents in the experiment were given the same yoghurt drink, however, half of them were told it was healthy, while the other half was told it was unhealthy. Interestingly, the respondents who were told it was unhealthy rated the drink 55% higher than the other respondents. The granola bar brand Nakd is a good example of a brand that does it well. “Even though health credentials are an important part of its offering, the names it has chosen for its bars, like Lemon Cake, Blueberry Muffin and Bakewell Tart, highlight their indulgent side.”

The same effects can be observed in marketing a product or service as sustainable. If green characteristics of a product are the only or primary trait, consumers often feel they are losing out in value elsewhere. On top of that, brands often take it upon themselves to be the hero, or tell the customer what they are doing instead of enabling people to make a difference themselves or together. 

At TrendsActive we’ve been studying trust for years. When we advice brands on their purpose we always take into consideration two factors that brands need to focus on in order to build trust among customers. Brands should not only focus on their benevolence, but also on their competence. In a time where many brands are focusing on health, self-care, sustainability etc. it can’t hurt to keep these rules in mind. It might just make the difference.

Image credits: V T