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Nutrient Plays vs. Functional Benefit Plays

  • Nutrient marketing plays rely on functional health associations being commonly understood (e.g., FiberOne). This requires mainstream awareness levels and time for popular culture to have attached associations (e.g., fiber aids digestion, relieves constipation).

Calcium

Whole grain

Fiber

Vitamins C, B, D and E

Soy protein

Oat

Omega fatty acids

  • Top functional ingredients that work in this way include:

  • Functional benefit marketing cuts straight to the point, but risks cueing ‘processed’ or ‘medicine.’ This marketing approach can work for more obscure nutrients, which are not well known but whose functional benefit addresses a health need that modern medicine does not address well (e.g., Activia).

  • Most effective functional benefit marketing orients to health conditions that are low stakes, frequently occurring and not yet solved by modern medicine. This type of benefit marketing works well when it taps into a “it can’t hurt and it might help” mindset, much like the supplement category has done.

Important functional benefits that meet the standards today are: Digestive function Immune function (not auto-immune disorders) Mental alertness/focus Energy Satiety

CONSUMER-CENTRIC RULES FOR WINNING IN FUNCTIONAL FOODS

  • Stay true to your organizational emphasis (R&D, Brand Management, Marketing) and do not waiver.

  • Understand how your category’s cultural acceptability for functional delivery will affect all aspects of execution.

  • Think very carefully about whether you should use a nutrient or a functional benefit marketing approach to reach your target consumer.

How does this work?

The following three charts (each from a different organizational approach: I. R&D-Driven, II. Brand Manager, and III. Marketer) are examples of how some food brands today have succeeded and why others failed:

OPPORTUNITIES IN FUNCTIONAL FOODS | THE HARTMAN GROUP, INC.

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