Does Your Restaurant Marketing Use Too Many Artificial Colors and Flavors?

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All natural foods may change the way restaurants promote the ingredients in their foods.

Consumers globally are eating out more than ever. Yet rising chronic disease rates, an aging population and an increase in the number of connected consumers are causing people to focus more on healthy eating options than ever before. And with good reason.

The Nielsen Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey found that globally, food allergies in children rose 50% between 1997 and 2011, and 36% of respondents reported that they or someone in their household have an allergy or intolerance to one or more foods. In the U.S., Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) found that as many as 15 million Americans have food allergies.

Given these statistics, it won’t surprise you that the Nielsen survey found that 7 out of 10 North American consumers are concerned about the long-term impact of artificial ingredients and want to know everything that is put in their foods. At the same time, 6 out of 10 say they want a shorter ingredient list because they believe fewer ingredients means healthier foods and beverages.  And 70% say they feel better about companies that tell them where the products they buy were raised or grown.

Food consumption habits reflect this change of attitudes.  In the Nielsen survey, North American respondents said they are most likely to avoid foods with MSG (55%), antibiotics or hormones in animal products (54%), artificial sweeteners (54%), artificial preservatives (53%) and foods packaged with BPA (53%).

It also may explain why the sales of carbonated soft drinks, chocolates and cookies have been flat in recent years; why 6 out of 10 respondents say they follow a diet that limits or prohibits consumption of some foods or ingredients; and why the U.S. has experienced double digit growth of foods and drinks labeled as organic.

If you are in charge of marketing your restaurant concept, there are at least five ways you can update your menu and marketing to account for these changing attitudes:

  1. Work with your suppliers to eliminate food additives like MSG, artificial preservatives and sweeteners and hormones in animal products you use in your recipes.
  2. Clearly indicate on your menu any foods that use organic or all natural ingredients.
  3. Promote the changes in your advertising, and on your menu.
  4. Train your servers to tell guests about the changes as they are ordering.
  5. Have your servers ask guests as they take their orders if they have any food allergies, and make menu recommendations based on those needs

That’s how we’re advising our restaurant clients to adapt to a changing mindset of guests. What are you doing to update your menu?

The Nielsen Global Health and Ingredient Sentiment Survey polled 30,000 people online in over 60 countries and has a margin of error +/- 6% globally.

About Sean Baker

Sean Baker has 17+ years marketing the restaurant industry. He is the President/ Partner at IMM, a digital ad agency located in Boulder, CO.
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