Opinion

Is Health Our New Brand Wealth?

You are welcome to share your thoughts on this article written by Jonathan Ford , Creative Partner, Pearlfisher

Health— undoubtedly now one of our most precious commodities in a personal, social and commercial context as we all strive to make a meaningful change for the better. Whilst our ethical standpoint means that we don’t work with tobacco firms we have been drawn into the debate on whether the Government should introduce new legislation to ‘unbrand’ cigarettes in a bid to decrease attraction.

Similarly—and government legislation aside—there is not just greater consumer pressure on the drinks industry to up the ante when it comes to product and branding innovation in a saturated and increasingly experiential marketplace but to also take more — and better —responsibility for our health. Just this week drinks giant Diageo announced its move to sponsor the training of 10,000 midwives to advise pregnant women on the dangers of alcohol.

We will always want our pleasures but, yes, health is an increasingly key driver and motivator and brands have a hard job to do to balance our needs and desires. The food and drinks market in particular has taken up this challenge in the past 5 years with the phenomenal launch and growth of, for example, vitamin waters, smoothies, raw food pots and superfruits…But, what and where next for the world of food and drinks brands?

PepsiCo has announced the July launch of Pepsi NEXT, claiming to be a ‘next-generation cola’ (to add to its already extensive portfolio of diet drinks) with a newly formulated and different sweetener system with the focus on reduced sugar— rather than just reduced calories. The press release states —“Pepsi NEXT was created for consumers who seek the rich taste of full-calorie cola but have decreased their consumption in order to reduce the sugar in their diet. While sugar-reduction is a priority for this segment, they have not adopted the flavor profile of a zero calorie cola. Pepsi NEXT delivers in the sweet-spot for these consumers with its real cola flavor and 60 percent less sugar.”

Understanding our individual health should be instinctual but the commercialization and changing nature of food available to us has distracted and distanced us from our natural instincts of what to eat. The result has been advice without explanation, promise without solution, and benefit without pleasure. And, whilst PepsiCo may have stood in Coke’s shadow in the past, we believe that its health mission statement for this product is bang on track. In the future — and still facing the daily trials of a time pressured, over-choiced and fragmented society— we will look to those who can help simplify and enhance our choices, demystify our basic requirements and our individual needs and bring to life the two main needs of the modern world: ‘Health’ and ‘Convenience’.

At Pearlfisher we have just conducted our latest transatlantic Insight program which has built up a rich picture of the future world of ‘Taste’ by working with experts and opinion formers to look at cutting edge cultural and category change. As we see it, the next step up and challenge for food and drinks brands is to create a new world that makes the best of all the natural goodness available to us and packages it up in a simple, enticing and convenient way to create a better connection with our food in terms of both function and fulfilment.

From June 30th, Waitrose is launching Waitrose LOVE life— a new range of nutritionally balanced foods (with over 270 products) which answers a demand from over half of Waitrose customers to help them include a wider range of wholefood ingredients and avoid saturated fats in their diets. Pearlfisher Creative Director, Natalie Chung, comments, “Waitrose is an experience an experience that is rooted in food but that goes well beyond food. The bright, bold packs and vibrancy of colour reflect the variety, choice and nutritionally balanced offer and will also ensure stand out on shelf. The naming and design expression is also about bringing taste and vitality together to create an experience of freedom and pleasure.”

We want ‘Healthy Convenience’, we want brands to help provide this but we do not want a dictatorial, prescriptive, jargon and statistic heavy or ‘me too’ approach. We are looking for exciting, colourful, boldly simple and fresh brand innovations that offer a future way of eating and drinking by bringing food to life through taste, education and participation. Deliver this — and we’ll all benefit.

About the Author

Jonathan Ford is a designer and co-founding partner of Pearlfisher.

He oversees a portfolio of award-winning designs, including a high-profile list of ethical, entrepreneurial and iconic brands. He is also a frequent speaker at high-profile international industry events and regular contributor and commentator in the design and brand press.

Jonathan can also be followed on Twitter—@Jforddesigns