Health communication, a must for probiotic food productsby Martin Macouzet, Ph. D. on 11/19/12
Producing a probiotic product will be of interest to a food company only if it allows the application of premium prices or translates into a substantial increase in market share. On the other hand, consumers will opt for the product only when motivated by the expectation of health benefits. A minimal condition for a brand to meet with success in the market is making the consumer aware of how he or she might benefit from consuming the product and thereby convincing him or her that the extra cost is justified.
Communication of the expected health benefits is generally done by the company through so-called “health claims”. The health claim is viewed as the most powerful marketing tool for functional food products, since it justifies the preference of the proposed consumption over traditional consumption. This tool appears to be more important in the case of probiotic products than for most other health-food ingredients. The reasons for this stem from factors such as lower consumer awareness and the plurality of the associated health benefits.
As observed by the Institute for the Development of Probiotic Food Products, there is much confusion among consumers, in particular with regard to multiple health benefits associated with probiotics, which appears to foster scepticism. Statistics showing a steady rise in probiotic awareness to the current levels of over 80% should be taken with extreme reserve. These data tend to mask the truth: people are getting familiar with the term “probiotics” but there is a prevalence of ignorance with increasing confusion and scepticism.
Conclusion: while the power of health claims is incontestable, the adoption of more effective communication strategies is necessary in the case of probiotic food products.
Macouzet, M. 2012. Alternatives for communicating the health benefits of probiotics. Probiotic Intelligentsia 1(2):15-27