In Balancing Health, Wellness and Budgets, we explore whether certain goals and aspirations trump the desire to save money—an especially important question in the supermarket aisle, where “healthy” has come to mean “expensive.” (Think “Whole Paycheck” as a nickname for Whole Foods.)
This concept remains alive and well. In April, we asked 363 American grocery shoppers the following questions: 1) Given the current economic situation, how expensive or inexpensive would you say each of these items are in terms of how they fit into your weekly grocery budget? and 2) How healthy or unhealthy would you say each of these items are for you and your family? The data indicate that people often perceive the most healthy items (“fresh” and “organic”) to be the most expensive. In contrast, the more affordable goods (canned vegetables, pasta, rice, lentils and beans) were only seen as moderately healthy. (Visit our Trends and Research page to download the U.S. results of the quantitative study.)
Del Monte is trying to combat this perception. As Brandweek reports, “Company research showed that Del Monte was a brand consumers know and trust, but it had to overcome the notion of not being as ‘fresh’ as frozen or store produce.” To that end, Del Monte has increased its marketing spend with a $2 million effort this spring. One ad for the brand’s Fresh Cut Whole Kernel Corn contrasts an ear of corn with the amount in a single can. “Get a whole lot more. For the same golden price,” the voiceover says.
Brand guardians of food marketers can learn from this example. The economic downturn is upending all of our assumptions—including what healthy is. Campaigns like Del Monte’s can help brands claim a part of the health halo, especially if the product in question provides both value and nutrition.