Forget quality when marketing food and beverage products


I’ve yet to hear one of the 100 or so food manufacturer and distributor companies I’ve worked with say that it offers low-quality products.

Odd, isn’t it?  Everybody offers the “highest-quality” products.

“Quality” has been used so much that the word has been rendered useless as a descriptor.

      Forget quality in foodservice marketing

A recent example I saw was in a news report about the “craft soda” trend that’s following in the footsteps of craft beers (“craft” will be the next impotent word!).  One of the interviewees said “quality” ingredients is what separates their soda from the Big Boys.

In other words, they use refined sugar instead of corn syrup as a sweetener.  Really?  That’s quality?  As the interviewed nutritionist said… “it’s all still liquid candy” regardless of the sweetener used.

I’m a big fan of soda — crafted or not.  But, for the most part, folks are attracted to taste (a subjective thing) — not quality (which also is a subjective thing).

So, what to do?

  • Focus on characteristics. Most companies are really talking about product characteristics, not quality attributes.  While 90-10 hamburger mix might have less fat (a perceived “quality” factor), many consumers prefer the juiciness of and 80-20 mix.  So, focus on specific examples of what makes your product different than the rest (the audience will determine if the difference means “quality” to them).
  • Show it, don’t say it. Characteristics are often better shown than described (not-so-subliminal message:  produce a video).  Some mixes produce “light and fluffy” baked goods.  Other mixes create a dense product.  Consider a tight close-up angle to highlight the fluffy (or dense) texture of your product.  Showing the differences has meaning to an operator who needs specifics to make a decision — not generic “quality” statements.
  • Use words that dogs understand. Remember that Far Side cartoon showing what dogs hear when we speak to them (blah, blah, blah, ROVER, blah, blah)?  Well, humans are not much different… we mostly hear words that matter to us.  “Quality” is just background noise until the school foodservice director reads or hears “child nutrition,” “menu planning,” and “school lunch program.”  Use the right words and your “quality” message will naturally come through.