Eany fresh fruit and vegetable industry professionals, including myself, have been advocating a focus on flavour. That is, we realize that our business has a strategic opportunity based on the conquest of the consumer through pleasure; pleasure referring to the pleasure of eating, tasting, savouring, smelling….
In this blog, I explained the concept of Positioning Map and its use to unravel consumer interests and behaviour. One of the axes of the proposed positioning map (there are many more) is the pleasure factor, which, applied to our products, refers to the sensory (organoleptic) experience of eating.
But in this map, this pleasure (flavour) is to the detriment of health (nutrition and health properties). Although it is not true (fruit and vegetables are inherently healthy), it is “a truth” that is implanted in our mind and this is what the map shows. We tend to think that everything that gives us the pleasure of eating cannot be healthy. Or, as a friend of mine says: “Everything I like is expensive, fattening or gets you drunk.”
I would add that to take something for “health” is boring and unexciting.
Positioning maps show us a “picture” of collective thinking about the products we buy. But it is a picture that is constantly evolving (tastes change).
Changes in consumer perceptions exist and there are always some bright sparks who notice them and launch products to suit these changes, and then someone paints a different positioning map so that the rest of the professionals know that the world has changed.
Well, it seems that the world had already changed in 2000, when Reuters Business Insight showed us a food map with just 3 factors (health, convenience and pleasure) in which there was the chance to link the pleasure factor with the health factor.
That seemed to be the case, but “Guilt-Free Indulgence” food began appearing in the markets; i.e. products that are “low” or “zero” and that have a similar flavour and texture to the original (taste and health at the same time).
And I fear that this consumer perception that taste and health go together will prevail (at least in the positioning map adapted for fresh fruit and vegetables) in a few years’ time if the scientific studies linking the two factors are disseminated.
The World Street Journal recently published an article entitled “How flavour leads to nutrition” announcing the publication of a book (Author: Mark SCHATZKER: “The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor”) which would help us see the direct relationship (the better they taste, the more nutritious and healthy they are) between flavour and nutrition in food.
Unfortunately, I haven’t got the book yet (but I’ve ordered it), but I have looked into one of the scientific experiments (Plant Volatile Compounds: Sensory Cues for Health and Nutritional Value? Stephen Goff and Harry Klee) mentioned in the article, which, moreover, is on tomatoes.
The study results are striking: “the flavour components of tomatoes provide information about their nutritional components.” In other words, “the same thing that makes a tomato tasty is what makes it healthy and nutritious”.
Flavour, nutrition and soon (when all this knowledge is public domain), a new Positioning Map.
As for my friend, I don’t know what it’ll take to change his opinion…