A few months ago, singer Demi Lovato got in a controversy when she called out a yogurt shop in California for “promoting diet culture.” The said yogurt shop had sugar-free and other diet food options on their menu, which triggered the star. She had always been open about her battles with eating disorders, and she said that she wanted to call out “diet culture vultures” and brands who used “harmful messaging” and those who “perpetuate and praise disordered eating.”
While the singer had a point, she also received backlash for forgetting that some customers need healthy food options, like people who have diabetes and Celiac disease or those who are vegans or vegetarians. The business responded by saying that they “cater to all customer needs” and that it wasn’t their intention to offend.
This hullabaloo tells us that healthy food businesses need to be careful in their messaging to not harm any sector of their audience. It may not be easy, but it’s possible. Healthy food businesses can be marketed to anyone, not just those who have health issues. Here are some key tips for marketing a healthy food business.
Tell your story
If you care about good health and taking care of one’s entire being through what they consume, chances are there’s a good story behind it. If there has been a struggle behind your current set of beliefs, consider sharing that chapter of your story with your audience. Get to the heart and the “why” of your business. It’s not about selling a sob story; it’s about being honest and transparent with the audience about why you care about healthy eating. Treat it as more than just a business; think of it as advocacy. When narrating your story, here are some key tips to remember:
- Be diplomatic with your words. The last thing you want is to trigger those who might hear your story, like what happened with Demi. Even though it wasn’t the business’s intention, a person with a massive influence or following could undo all the work you’ve done. Make sure that, just like the yogurt shop, your brand and messaging are above reproach.
- Use your messaging to educate. Consider inviting a nutritionist on your team to ensure that you are not spreading misinformation through your content and materials.
- Share your story through video and written format. A video will be inclusive and accessible, while a written format may touch the hearts of those who consume written content better.
- Make sure your healthy options are easily seen on your website, like what the restaurant Utopia Caffe did. On the first page of their website, they immediately mentioned that they have gluten-free and vegetarian options. There are options for those who want to indulge without feeling like they’re compromising their health.
96 percent of consumers are skeptical of ads and marketing, and rightly so. In the past few decades, we have seen just how big businesses have tried to exploit human pain and suffering for their own gain. Not many big corporations have shown that they truly care about humankind beyond their ability to open their wallets. This is why it’s important now more than ever for businesses big and small to be transparent about their products, processes, operations, and everything else. Especially if you’re going to put forth your business as also advocacy-based. You need to share every detail about how every dish is made—where and how you source your ingredients, and what the ingredients are in the first place.
Consider partnering with local farmers for your supplies. The farm-to-table concept might be ubiquitous now, but it’s a way to support those who need it the most while ensuring that your ingredients are always fresh and organically grown. By sourcing through local farms, you also have more chance to ensure that there is no labor exploitation happening and that your hands are always clean.
Keep them coming back
If you want repeat customers, make sure that you keep churning out content that will keep your business relevant to them beyond their initial purchase. Keep giving them opportunities to feel like they’re investing in valuable products. For example, you can keep them engaged by releasing sponsored content from health experts. If you keep marketing your brand as a business committed to health and nutrition, you might be able to build a more loyal consumer base.
If you have a healthy food business, treat it as an advocacy and a business. You can never go wrong by caring about people’s health and well-being.