In June 2011, Simply Naked launched “the nation’s first full range of unoaked wine.” The brand described its wines as “clean, fresh and straightforward…anything but simple.” According to a press release put out by its parent brand, Constellation Wines, Simply Naked is following a “growing consumer trend that names ‘simplicity’ as the latest driving force in new product development.” I noticed a footnote at the end of this statement, which attributed the information to a study performed by Innova Market Insights.
According to a 2010 report performed by Innova Market Insights, consumers began embracing simplicity, and consequently the words “natural” and “preservative-free” gained momentum. From January to April 2010, 2,137 new US products marketed as natural or preservative free. (Read the full PR Newswire article here).
The trend has only continued on through 2012, and Innova Market Insights predict consumers will continue looking for products that stand for “purity”: “Natural products are becoming the rule rather than the exception in most western markets, despite ongoing issues with a clear definition of what ‘natural’ encompasses.” These reports could help me isolate why body image words like “skinny” and “naked” are popping up and trending. Both words conjure up images of purity and transparency. However, none of Innova Market Insight’s reports explicitly draw a connection or mention the trend of the words “skinny” and “naked.” I plan on contacting Lu Ann Williams at Innova in order to get their professional opinion on the two marketing words and hopefully they will be able to tie them, or explain their recent popularity, to broader food marketing trends.
One product that is surprisingly not “preservative free”? The Skinnygirl Margarita. After Whole Foods discovered the low-calorie mixed drink contains a preservative “that does not meet our quality standards, we have had to stop selling it.” The preservative in question is sodium benzoate, which is commonly found in salad dressings and carbonated beverages. Creator Bethany Frankel fired back:
“I’m not making wheatgrass here. If I could put an agave plant and some limes on a shelf I would. [The Skinnygirl Margarita] is as close to nature as possible, while still being a shelf-stable product,” she told Access Hollywood.
This debate brings up a good question. Where is the line between natural and commercial? Obviously not all products can be plucked straight from the earth and put on the shelves. It is just not realistic. So how does the “natural” element affect businesses still trying to make a profit? Do they have to pay more for higher quality ingredients? Do they need to sacrifice sell-by dates? All these questions I plan on finding out after interviewing food product specialists in the industry.
Watch the video about the Skinnygirl Margarita and Whole Foods controversy below: