Business and Operations
from the editor’s desk: It’s all in the words
By Laura Aiken
The nuances of compelling people to purchase one item over another are
fascinating. Selling pizza is no exception, and it can come down to the
words you use to tell the story of your food. Your choice of words can
change pizza perceptions from junk food to good-for-you.
The nuances of compelling people to purchase one item over another are fascinating. Selling pizza is no exception, and it can come down to the words you use to tell the story of your food. Your choice of words can change pizza perceptions from junk food to good-for-you. As one of our columnists Michelle Brisebois writes on page 22, calling pizzas topped flatbreads instantly denotes an upscale image. This, in turn, reminds a consumer of higher quality food in smaller portions, which gourmet dining tends to be. You may find you can command a higher price point for topped flatbreads. The food itself isn’t necessarily healthier. A recent study by Technomic found that taste, ease and value were the biggest factors in why people chose pizza over other foods, but 41 per cent of respondents wanted to be offered healthier choices. How do you provide consumers with a healthier version of the product they love without affecting the taste or cost of it? “Healthy” still sounds like “tastes bad” to many people.
A recent Eco Pulse 2010 survey by Shelton Group showed that the American public found the word “organic” gimmicky and preferred the term “natural,” reported Pizza Marketplace. Other findings noted by Pizza Marketplace included that women and minorities have the most demand for “green” food, and consumers were more likely to be swayed by professional association endorsements such as Heart and Stroke or specific descriptors like recycled packaging. The survey polled 1,000 online respondents and then followed up with focus groups.
Some words are becoming common-place sellers, particularly trans-fat free and reduced salt. A recent study conducted by Decision Analyst Inc. in the U.S. found more than 50 per cent support for menu labelling initiatives in every age group except 65 and older. However, many consumers find the nutritional data difficult to interpret. It is complex. Even more than clarity, context educates when it comes to marketing healthier pizza. How much better for me is this pizza over that pizza and in what way? This is where it gets even trickier in marketing healthy food. “Healthy” means different things to different people. For some it means low salt. For others its’ natural ingredients and for many, it’s both. The interpretation of health is strongly tied to lifestyle. Brands need to include many angles of imagery to capture such a vast landscape of consumer attitudes. It’s been said you can’t be all things to all people, but pizza can offer something for everyone. Consider how you want tell the story of your food and whom you are talking to. A little red tractor beside a locally sourced ingredient resonates, but with whom? How many of your customers care if you locally source your ingredients? Are you going to get any new customers by promoting your efforts? These are all considerations in how you approach marketing your food in a changing environment.
However, there is still a good chunk of the population that won’t pick healthy based on taste perceptions. Part of the solution may be in telling more of the story behind the food and infusing the meal with imagination. A thin crust, whole wheat veggie-laden pizza doesn’t sound as sinfully delicious to some as a meat lover’s extreme cheese, but when it’s marketed as Mediterranean or California inspired, somehow it sounds a little easier to digest. However you trim the fat, be sure to choose your words wisely. •