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Health Claims or not health Claims? How to communicate health benefits successfully with or without Health Claims

NEAL CAVALIER-SMITH, PETER WENNSTRÖM*
*Corresponding author
The Healthy Marketing Team, 18 Clerkenwell Close, London, EC1R 0QN, United Kingdom

Abstract

Health Claims have increasingly become one of the most debated topics in the Food Industry and we have been seeing many of our clients increasingly worry about getting Health Claims approved even before defining their brand positioning and understanding their target consumers’ driver and motivation.
In this article, we will attempt to establish:

  • What is the impact of Health Claims when it comes to communicating effectively with your brand’s target group?
  • What are the principles that guide effective communications, with or without a Health Claim?

With this in mind, this article re-frames the Health Claims discussion in light of two critical topics:

 

  • In Part I we explore how to communicate Health Benefits.
  • In Part II we look at how to position brands with Health Benefit.
  • In the summary we describe the rules for success with or without Health Claims.

Certainly, one cannot deny that Health Claims are important in communicating Health & Nutrition brands. They are particularly key for dietary supplements since they cannot attract customers by arguing about other product properties such as good taste.
Health claims are guided by ethical considerations, scientific guidelines and a regulatory framework.
The Food and Beverage industry in Europe is regulated by EFSA and many brands are facing an increasingly stringent and complex regulatory framework that determines what can and cannot be claimed.
There is data to suggest that over the last couple of years, 20 percent of claims submitted to EFSA were accepted with 80 percent being rejected.
We feel however that brand marketers must start first with their brand’s intended strategy and hence target the consumer group before jumping on to the health claim bandwagon!
The critical factor that determines what signifies as a health claims depends at least as much on the regulatory framework of the market as it does on the brand strategy and formulation!
Given the complexity of the regulatory environment and future outlook, brand owners need to critically examine if they really need health claims to excite consumer interest in their brand and what kind of health claims fits in with their brand and intended target group.


PART I: HOW TO COMMUNICATE HEALTH BENEFITS, INDUSTRY MYTHS AND CONSUMER BELIEFS
The Food Industry is struggling to find the right way to communicate their brands within the regulatory scenario. What they are sometimes ignoring and forgetting to ask themselves is whether there is a real need for a Health Claim.
As the regulation continues to change there is an increasing tension and confusion in terms of what can be said and what cannot.
In this scenario it is very easy to lose focus on the consumer and start to believe in myths created by the Industry and the Regulators themselves.
When asking some industry executives about their latest experiences and challenges with Health Claims, one of iterated lack of consumer focus:
“It’