THE FOOD INDUSTRY IS BUZZING WITH WORDS – WHAT’S HOT, SIZZLING AND CAUSING A STIR
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
By Jillian Hillard
As a food marketer, I live and breathe marketing buzzwords every day. I write them, I read them, I love them and I despise them. In this industry, buzzwords are imperative. Food visually invokes emotion and the use of imagery and/or live sampling is often the best way to share new products, but unfortunately that isn't always a reality. Strong, powerful words that tell the story about the product are the next best thing but only if you put your money where your mouth is, which is what's been putting marketers and businesses in the "hot seat."
The number one cause of the "hot seat" is vagueness. Marketing buzzwords are vague which is why we all use them and get away with them. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has managed to steer clear of defining descriptive words and restricting them with regard to branding, labels and advertisements, etc. Descriptive words can be interpreted in so many ways it is hard to crack down unless stark claims are being made by products, and these are primarily in the case of medical claims. Therefore, words such as fresh, artisan and healthy are left to interpretation, which in today's well-educated foodie society has a raised a few questions, and even left blogs and articles with numerous comments supporting arguments for and against products that use these buzzwords.
Don't let the "hot seat" or numerous comments completely steer you away; we are in a connected world and good or bad opinions are readily available and accessible. Focus instead on ensuring you are using the right buzzwords that speak to your business and products, and more importantly be creative.
Trending for some time now are buzzwords I would classify into five categories:
Emphasizing the Artistic Side of Products
Key buzzwords: Authentic, Hand-crafted, Artisanal, Artisan
Bringing Back the Days of Grandma's Kitchen
Key buzzwords: Fresh, Scratch-made, Wholesome, Local, Homemade
The Never-Ending Tribute to Health & Wellbeing
Key buzzwords: Healthy, Natural, Diet, Low-[fill in blank – fat, cal, carb], Organic, [fill in blank – sugar, dairy, gluten, fat]-free
The Movement of Superior and BETTER Products
Key buzzwords: Reinvented, Reformulated, Innovative, Novel, Premium, High-Quality, Made in [insert country, city, state, etc.]
Word Splicing – A Whole New Approach to Creating Descriptive Words Specific to Your Product
Key buzzwords: Swirlalicious, Innov8, Tangalicious, Yum-O or any words you can pair together
These buzzwords are of course all considered "IN" these days and ready for your choosing as opposed to dated, but two words of caution. First, use them when and only when you can back them up with solid explanations as to why that word describes your product and/or business (this, as mentioned earlier, will help clarify to commenters why you use that buzzword). Second, use sparingly – instead really try to tap into your creativity and find words not currently trending that will set you apart.
When the need for a great, creative buzzword arises, a good thesaurus can help – we marketers use them all the time! Preliminary testing with customers can also help with finding the perfect buzzword; simply ask them to describe what they feel about the product upon seeing and tasting it, that will usually yield you a spot on assessment. Don't forget about your clientele's frequently asked questions. When you write about your offerings on your website, showcase them in an ad or promote them on your menu board, proactively answer the questions your patrons ask with key buzzwords.
Buzzwords are big in the food industry and not going away anytime soon so use them, create them and be prepared to defend them because next to seeing and tasting your products, buzzwords are the next best thing for stirring the emotion that says, "I have to have that product!"