Talking to consumers

With natural off the table and leaving a gap on packaging, marketers are looking for another way to communicate a similar message. USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified stamps have stepped in to fill that void.

“You certainly have your tried-and-true claims — less fat, fewer calories, nutrients — but we also see even greater consumer response in the form of consumer feedback and consumption growth with the higher order claims such as organic, GMO-free and gluten-free,” Mr. Hartmann said. “We’ve seen products with those claims outpacing the healthier claims.”
Beyond nutrition, companies can tap into their target consumers' values by highlighting their own partnerships, causes and values on the front of the bag.

These labels communicate more precisely what consumers expect when they read the word natural. In a way, the term has been replaced by another buzzword, clean label, which is maybe what consumers were looking for all along when they read natural on the packaging.

To Dave’s Killer Bread, organic and non-GMO together communicate that message of clean label to the consumer. “The term clean label gets used a lot,” Mr. Letchinger said. “It’s in vogue to throw that around. Call us purists, but clean label has to be non-GMO and organic. It’s all or nothing for us.”

While the Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Organic stamps convey a lot about the ingredients present in a loaf of bread or a snack food, the front-of-package claims can go further in what it conveys to shoppers as far as nutrition is concerned.

“The USDA Organic logo and Non-GMO Project Verified logo are ways to reassure consumers that these products do not have the things consumers don’t want and do have what they do want,” Mr. Letchinger said. “The front of package is all about communicating the absence of negatives and the presence of positives.”

In the company’s White Bread Done Right, for example, not only does Dave’s Killer Bread call out the Non-GMO Project Verified and USDA Organic stamps, but it also expresses the presence of perceived positives such as whole grains, quinoa and spelt and the absence of perceived negatives such as high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and bleached flour.

“We have to convey the absence of negatives because white bread is a loaded term for a lot of people,” he said. “We put on the package no bleached flour, and that’s a huge reassurance for a lot of consumers, especially those who want white bread but are wise to the stigma it carries.”