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Harris Poll: Marketing Lingo Fuels Specialty Food/Beverage Sales

When it comes to specialty food and beverage purchases, modern buzzwords continue to influence customers, according to a recent Harris Poll.

The latest poll revealed that 59% of adults said the use of “handmade/handcrafted” on food or beverage packaging strongly/somewhat communicates that a product is of high quality. Further, 48% stated that the use of such buzzwords has some or a great deal of influence over their purchasing decision.

“Limited edition” earned 37% of responses, with “custom” and “artisan/artisanal” both earning 36%. Further, 32% stated that the word “craft” has at least some influence, while “small batch” earned 25% of responses.

And while these buzzwords, stated Harris, are commonly associated with a variety of specialty items such as coffee, olive oil, cheese, vinegar, beer and other goods often found among the shelves in a gourmet retail shop, the research group also said that some descriptions are just better suited for one product over another.

For example, Harris indicated that 52% of drinking-age Americans stated that beer best taps into the “craft” description. Only 25% stated the word is a strong fit for liquor/spirits/cocktails; 20% stated the same about wine, while 27% stated “craft” was not an appropriate fit with any of the product categories mentioned.

Further, Harris reported that “handmade/handcrafted” may be best suited to foods on the sweeter side, such as baked goods (46%), jam/jelly/preserves (45%), and chocolate/candy (43%), which it said are all seen as appropriate fits by over four in 10 Americans. The items most seen as appropriate fits for “artisan/artisanal” descriptions are cheese (38%) and baked goods (36%), followed more distantly by coffee (23%).

Beverages prove to be good fits for both “limited edition” and “small batch,” with three in 10 Americans aged 21+ said wine (30% and 27%, respectively) and one quarter saying liquor/spirits/cocktails (28% and 25%, respectively) are appropriate fits. All adults also agree soda/carbonated beverages (28%) are a good fit for “limited edition.”

Outside of the beverage category, Harris reported that 26% of respondents said jam/jelly/preserves is a good fit for “small batch” branding.

Harris also said that “custom” showed the most diversity in responses, with 24% saying pet food and 23% saying coffee are appropriate fits. However, Harris noted that 39% said none of the food/beverage options presented are an appropriate fit for this choice.

Despite the seemingly popularity of such buzzwords, The Harris Poll also reported that a backlash is emerging with some of the verbiage.

Case in point, 64% of those polled found that the use of “limited edition” is over-used when it comes to food and beverage marketing speak. The same was reported about the use of “handmade/handcrafted” (52%) “craft” (51%), “artisan/artisanal” (51%) and “custom” (50%). “Small-batch” earned only 32% of respondents stating that it was overused, with 37% stating it is neither over- or under-used.

In addition, The Harris Poll also studied generational responses and reported that Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to say “handmade/handcrafted,” “craft,” and “small batch” to communicate that a product is high quality.

Also, Millennials are more likely than all other generations to say “limited edition,” “custom,” “artisan/artisanal,” and “craft” have at least some influence on their purchase decisions.

This Harris Poll was conducted online, between May 20 and 26, 2015 among 2,225 U.S. adults (aged 18 and over).


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  1. Pingback: The Name Game: Artisanal to Small Batch | NewCraft Living blog

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