Experts’ View: Marketing
The terms “healthy” and “safe” are not the same thing. Food, including bread, is a necessary energy source for mankind. It helps to maintain vital functions, balances energy consumption during physical effort, and it is essential to growth. It also meets pleasure related and cultural demands: the pleasure found in food and in the atmosphere linked to its consumption.
The notions of “safe food” and “healthy food” are often considered to be synonymous. “Safe” is non-negotiable. It is hard to detect for consumers who rely on third-party information or reliability hints to endorse a product since they’re typically unable to analyze or check how it was produced personally. The safety of a food cannot always be detected immediately since some accumulating factors only have an effect on health after several years. However, “healthy” (i.e. good for my health) may be an individual or collective feeling, based on an approach, which is relatively medium to long-term.
Bread, Marketable food
The first step to marketing a product is to reassure—a product doesn’t sell if there is any doubt about its health or safety. Actions aiming to reassure consumers can target consumers directly or target referrers (cooks, nutritionists, doctors) whose impact is usually stronger, and easier to access since there are fewer of them than there are consumers.
The second step is to acquire consumer attention and divert them from other products that are either similar or manufactured by a competitor. Packaging design plays an important role in attracting attention—for example a “retro” package focusing on the traditional aspect or an “amusing” look to appeal to children and snack eaters. Endorsements are all the more effective in the development of ethical (clean label, organic food, the local food movement, Kosher, Halal) and ethnic sensitivities (Asian products for example). A logo symbolizing a community is reassuring and creates a sense of involvement when the customer identifies with the community.
The third step is to create customer loyalty, to encourage sustained or even increased consumption, and to prevent them from drifting over to other products or manufacturers. Even though geographical proximity has always been a great advantage for the local bakers, today’s consumer mobility, coupled with changes in the places where products are consumed (workplace, public transport) makes it compulsory to set more adapted locations and distribution modes (bread outlets, automated dispensers, staggering baking schedules for fresh bread at any time). Overall the health aspect is both interesting and dangerous in our sector.
Bread and Health: a Bankable Topic
It is a tempting argument because it provides an easy answer to consumers’ major concern about the inoffensiveness of bread (bread is not dangerous, it is traditional food). Health is a bankable topic which appeals to consumers, so product ranges can be broadened and the product offering can be differentiated with perceived added value (people are often willing to spend extra to ensure their well-being).
It is also a risky topic, because care must always be taken when dealing with consumer fears: if you explain that “x-rich” bread with “low y” is better, you can easily create suspicion about bread in general, consequently making consumers less likely to buy bread that has not been enriched (some people may think that, if bread can be enriched, it must mean that it is not naturally good or complete).
Campaigns for marketing bread are not that frequent, the supply structure (bakers) is fragmented with many small- to medium-sized suppliers. The value of the products limits possible promotion costs. Availability of the product and proximity of the sales outlets are also important factors.