When Aaron's talking to our clients about branding, he often explains the fact that perception is everything when it comes to a consumer's feelings about your brand.
It doesn't matter what the truth is - if Betty Sue heard that a cockroach was once found in Arlene's neighbor's cousin's sister-in-law's box of YOUR BRAND of pasta, she'll never buy it again. Betty Sue believes in the existence of that damn cockroach and there's nothing you can do to convince her that Arlene's neighbor's cousin's sister-in-law was full of it.
I read recently that more U.S. consumers believe a product deemed "natural" is more green than one deemed "organic". According to this report, "despite well-defined certification standards, organic products are among those that consumers distrust; 31 percent of respondents said ‘100 percent natural’ is the most desirable eco-friendly product label claim, compared to 14 percent who chose ‘100 percent organic’."
FoodNavigator.com tells us that 'All Natural' was the third most frequent claim made on food products launched in the US in 2007, appearing on 2,617 products. It ranked fourth most popular claim for beverages, used on 542 items.
In 2007 both Cadbury Schweppes and Kraft faced lawsuits after making 'natural' label claims on beverages that contained high fructose corn syrup. Both companies changed the labeling of their products before any legal action was taken.
Cases such as these clearly indicate that there is debate surrounding the use of the term, and not only could that lead to misinformed purchases by consumers, but also to lost time and money for manufacturers.
Apparently the FDA lacks the resources required to increase its regulation of the "all natural" term on our food and beverages, and so the battle of ethics continues...
Just goes to show there is a serious need for some consumer education. Burt's Bees, we're looking to you. Actually, I take that back... sadly you're another small, earth-loving company eaten up by a behemoth.