For premium brands, the challenge lies in appealing to consumers' yen for back-to-basics while retaining the sophisticated image equity that supports their pricing, points out Margaret Kime, director of innovation with brand-building consultancy Fletcher Knight.
The key lies in marketing strategies that link the two concepts. "Simplicity is the new sophistication," says Kime.
"Whereas in the past, more sophisticated foods were complex, time-intensive and somewhat unattainable," today's successful premium-brand positioning stresses "quality, purity, authenticity, superior taste and optimum nutrition and health" within a context of streamlined preparation and attractive presentation, she says. "Our research suggests that brands that celebrate the aesthetic beauty in real ingredients, simple preparation and artful presentation will be aligned with the driving philosophy that good food is eaten fresh and prepared unpretentiously."
This marketing trend "has taken strong root in the beverage category," where a growing number of products focus on natural, organic and minimally processed ingredients highlighted via "clean" labels, Kime notes. Examples include all-natural Pepsi Raw and Honest Beverages ("Be Real. Get Honest.").
On the food front, brands effectively linking messages of simplicity and sophistication, in Kime's view, include Heinz's Classico pasta sauces ("Classico cooking solutions bring the authentic flavor of classic Italian regions to your table quickly and easily"); Haagen-Dazs five ("All-natural ice cream crafted with only five ingredients for incredibly pure, balanced flavor...and surprisingly less fat"); and the Barefoot Contessa Web/television/cookbook franchise, premised on easy to make but "special" recipes from Ina Garten.