Most people fondly imagine that they are immune to marketing buzzwords, able to make their consumer choices solely based on merit and value. But most people are still affected by marketing buzzwords, particularly as they relate to food branding trends.
A Harris Poll study from 2015 found that food branding trends that were all about experiencing something special and exclusive were particularly effective. Words like “artisan” and “craft” tended to pique consumer interest. Even buzzwords that conveyed little meaning, like “custom” were apt to get people’s attention.
Old-school buzzwords like the 20th century’s “New and Improved” are less likely to make an impression, and like everything consumer-related, today’s buzzwords will evolve too. At the moment, however, food branding trends that make consumers feel like they’re part of something special and exclusive have more traction than other buzzwords. Buzzwords are part of the art that goes into effective packaging design.
Consumers Are Likeliest to Act on Certain Buzzwords
The five buzzwords most likely to influence purchasing decisions are:
- Handmade/handcrafted (with 48% of consumers granting it influence)
- Limited edition (37%)
- Custom (36%)
- Artisan/artisanal (36%)
- Craft (32%)
Trailing at number six is “small batch,” which has pull with around one-quarter of consumers participating in the Harris poll. All of these (with the possible exception of “custom,” which has lost some of its power), have to do with exclusivity, with the idea that the products were created with a greater degree of care or consideration than ordinary, mass-produced items.
Generational Food Branding Trends and their Buzzwords
Younger consumers appreciate buzzwords more than older consumers, and there are several possible reasons for this. Older people may have longstanding brand affinities that are unaffected by food branding trends. Younger people may subconsciously want their preferences to be shaped, and they associate exclusivity buzzwords with both quality and specialness. It can be an easy way to differentiate themselves from their parents’ generation while still doing “adult” things like shopping responsibly at a supermarket.
Buzzwords That Can Cause Problems
Not all buzzwords are equal, however. And some buzzwords have requirements attached to them. Brands have found themselves in trouble for using “natural” and “all-natural” while running afoul of FDA regulations on certain factors (like the presence of maltodextrin in a product). In fact, many companies are turning away from this practice to avoid such trouble. It’s not turning out to be a major problem, however, because consumers are a bit more jaded about claims that products are “natural.” The word “healthy” has also lost power in food branding, and some products have had to remove the word from their labels due to containing high levels of ingredients like saturated fats, which the FDA doesn’t allow with the “healthy” moniker.
The Amazing Power of the Word “Snack”
One buzzword that food brands need to consider is the word “snack.” Studies have shown that regardless of whether a “snack” has as many calories as a “meal,” snacks are seen as somehow counting less toward daily food consumption. When someone consumes what they call a snack, they feel as if they have more freedom to consume other things as well. After all, it’s “only” a snack!
Snacking behavior is also influenced by distraction. In other words, when something is easy to eat while engaging in another activity, like watching television, it is likelier to be consumed in larger quantities. Call something a snack, and make it convenient to eat without utensils, and people are less likely to keep an eye on how much of it they’re eating.
Buzzwords have always been a part of food branding trends, and the probably always will be. But buzzwords, like all marketing trends, have their own shelf life, and what worked for the “space age” nuclear family of the 1960s may be largely irrelevant to the millennial consumers of the 2010s. Today, people like buzzwords denoting exclusivity, and they like the license that words like “snack” give them to indulge in their favorite treats. Undoubtedly, new buzzwords will come along and have their own power over consumers in the future. PKG Brand Design is always on the forefront of new CPG branding and packaging initiatives; please subscribe to our blog for the latest package design industry news!