You can ask 20 people on the street what “healthy” means and you are likely to get 20 different answers. Especially when it comes to food. Between fad diets, changing food pyramids and the new “conscious lifestyle”, it’s enough to make your head spin—especially marketers embarking on uncharted territory.

So what’s a marketer to do when they set out to put a healthy spin on their brand?

Start with their target.

For many, “ Healthy” may have an elusive and ever changing definition in the marketplace but the intentions behind it are often best communicated when they suggest ‘choosing to be better’ for the right reason. Start there and you can evolve with the trends.

Very recently, I read that “food sensitivities are a rich-people problem” but now it feels that health and wellness have officially gone mainstream. Today you can find gluten-free, dairy-free pancake mix in the average grocery store. You can find an iced tea with 15 added benefits/ingredients at the quickie mart at the gas station.

But despite going mainstream, there’s still no clear-cut definition, which is why marketers have to know their specific target’s definition of feelings around “healthy.” Does it mean organic? The omission of gluten or dairy? Is it a way of life that simply involves choosing the dye-free mac’n cheese for their family over another? Is it locally sourced food? Or all of the above?

Figuring out what your consumer wants is the brands first mission. And here are a few more tips to follow as you grow with your core consumer and expand to bring in more and more conscious eaters:

  1. Meet your consumers where they’re at: Everyone has a different definition of health – from simply adding veggies or “going organic”, to going extreme meat-gluten-dairy-free. The idea is to know what your consumers’ think healthy means and how they feel about living that way.   If to them ‘everything in moderation is their mantra’ than you don’t need to go any further right now.
  1. Stay true to your brand: I am personally excited about the move to organic, but if you’re a McDonalds it’s not believable. However, choosing to ‘do better’ with “hormone free” protein can go a long way with your consumer base and maybe even pull in a few more health-conscious consumers while you’re at it!
  1. Don’t preach: While thinking and striving to be healthier has gone mainstream – behavior and health/obesity statistics tell another story. The point is, helping people choose better goes further than reminding them of what they’re not doing or spreading guilt.
  1. Don’t fake it. If you’re brand is eager to get into the “healthy” space but you’re having a hard time figuring out how your chewy chocolate chip cookies qualify, don’t try to trick your consumers. They’ll know! Instead, find what is true about your brand already or what changes can be made to demonstrate the brands Point of View on the matter – e.g. locally sourced chocolate, organic ingredients, hand-made, etc.

*Click on the following link to more about how mainstream “healthy food” has become,

Global healthy foods to hit $1 trillion in 2017: Report