According to Peter Wennström, president of The Healthy Marketing Team, consumer involvement is vital from start to finish when attempting to develop, improve, or re-position a healthy food or beverage brand.
“First, we help the brand-owners decide which category to enter. Then we help them to optimise their presence in this category. Finally we develop a concept tailor-made for the consumer,” he said.
“From there we try to start and end with the consumer,” said Wennström.
“We invite them to work together with us. We have moved on from traditional focus groups because people often ended up lying through their teeth. Instead we say, ‘We know you like this brand. Let’s work together to develop it’,” he said.
Beverage product paradigm shift…
“We have recently worked on a lot of projects in emerging markets where there is growing interest in healthy beverages – particularly for families. Here they are looking at removing the baddies like sugar, and adding nutrients," said Wennström.
“In mature markets like the US, it is more about old brand renovation.”
Wennström added, however, that some multinational companies have struggled to position products in these healthy categories.
“There has been a paradigm shift. The old paradigm was based on mass-production. Healthy trends often rely on terms like ‘local’ and ‘fresh’,” he said.
“Bigger companies are thinking to themselves, ‘What shall we do with our soft drinks?’. For example, Coca-Cola realized that they couldn't just make Coca-Cola smoothies, so they bought a company like Innocent.”
Drowning in healthy beverages…
According to Wennström, The Healthy Marketing Team has gone from strength to strength as consumer demand for healthy beverage products increases.
“You could say that we’re drowning in healthy beverages,” he said. “There is growth everywhere – significant growth.”
Wennström, like many others, pinpointed convenience and personal nutrition needs as the key drivers behind this growth.
“A mobile phone fits into your hand – it’s convenient. The healthy and functional beverage products make nutrition convenient. Then there are personal nutrition needs – basically dieting and body shaping.”
“These together are driving healthy beverages,” he said.
He added, however, that the category is in no way standing still. According to Wennström, the healthy beverage category has evolved into a “state of fusion.”
“We are starting to see more category fusion – blending beverages from different categories. The healthy beverages market is in a state of fusion where categories are fusing to meet consumer demand.”