The term “natural” used to be the industry standard highlighting the better-for-you aspect of products and their ingredients.  It signified that the product was from nature or all natural.  It implied trust, quality, and purity.  The term went “viral” and every brand jumped on the natural bandwagon, including brands whose packaging was typically healthier than the product inside.  It eventually became an overused punchline losing its meaning and its effectiveness as a way to message healthy authentic ingredients. Natural is still used today as a way to segment health-focused brands and retailers from other mainstream brands and retailers.

Marketing and brand messaging are all about the perception shoppers have for a product or brand.  Remember the game where someone would say part of an iconic jingle and you would have to complete it?  Besides being a fun game, it highlighted how certain brands have become entrenched in our consciousness becoming a part of DNA.  The marketing geniuses behind these jingles built brand empires that have completely overshadowed the competitive landscape. Several brands are still used to define the entire category, for example, Kleenex ®️, Pop-Tarts®️, etc.

Clean label is the new natural.  When it originally came out, it conveyed simple easy to understand ingredients. Early adopters of the term focused on the number of ingredients the product had in it.  Some brands argued that the term could only be used if the item had less than five or ten ingredients.  This was unfortunate because it distracted from the messaging behind the term.  I believe that similar disputes diluted the term natural and served to only confuse shoppers.

“You are what you eat”

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