Have You Ever Fallen Victim To The Health Halo Effect?
Most of us have. We see it all the time and probably don't even notice when it's happening. Words like "natural" that sound great and give the perception that a product is healthier than the rest, but really isn't. These are words used by marketers in an attempt to influence our buying behavior. And while this may sound like something that doesn't affect you, sometimes it can be hard to tell what is actually healthy and what is just a marketing tactic used by food companies trying to trick you into believing their products are more nutritious than they really are. At Organic'ly Foods we believe no one should be exposed to misleading marketing tactics and we're committed to helping health-conscious individuals avoid the Health Halo Effect trap!
What is the Health Halo Effect?
The Health Halo Effect is the perception that foods are healthier based on the words used to advertise them and/or where they are purchased. More often than not, it's just a trap. Many companies associate words with their products as marketing fluffery in an effort to trick you into thinking they are better for you than they really are. The most misused, misleading and misunderstood words commonly used are terms like "natural", "healthy", "clean", and "fresh". These words mean something different to everyone, but they don't really mean anything at all as their definition is a matter of opinion - purely subjective.
How Does it Work?
The Health Halo Effect is a marketing tactic used to convince health-conscious people that they are getting some perceived health benefit with a specific product. The concern with the Health Halo Effect, and one of the reasons why its use is so effective is because those who fall victim to it often ignore ingredients and nutrition facts, and give "Health Halo" foods undeserved nutritional value.
The Health Halo Effect shows up in two primary ways:
- On food packaging - When your buying behavior is influenced based on the words used
- Where you shop - When your perception of healthy foods is influenced based on where you shop
Health Halos also work on people who aren't necessarily health conscious, but just like the idea of healthier foods in general. An example would be diet soda. These types assume that because the word "diet" is used on a food product, it must be good for them - an inaccurate assumption.
Why You Need to be Aware of it
The word "natural", for example, means something different to everyone. There is no official FDA definition for the word, so there are no rules or requirements regarding its use. Some cigarettes have even been labeled as being "natural". Unfortunately, this word commonly misleads consumers into thinking they've made a healthier choice, when in reality that's not the case.
Even words like "organic" or "gluten-free", which are more clearly defined, can be misleading. These words do not automatically mean a product is "healthy". For example, if a certified "organic" or "gluten-free" product has 40 grams of added organic cane sugar per serving, it's definitely not a health food, and should be avoided.
Fast food companies are notorious for using the Health Halo Effect to their advantage. An example is fried chicken. As the word "fried" has become more synonymous with poor health, many fast food chains have swapped it out with the word "crispy". Same chicken; but by calling it "crispy chicken" instead of "fried chicken", this just gives the perception that it's healthier for you, when in reality it's the exact same, unhealthy processed chicken.
Ways To Combat the Health Halo Effect
As you can see, the Health Halo Effect is a sneaky marketing strategy that tricks people into buying something based on the perception that it is healthy. And the best way to avoid falling victim is by reading food labels, and avoiding foods that contain questionable ingredients.
Health food stores like Whole Foods, Mother's Market, Sprouts and Trader Joe's are a great place to start; however just because you are shopping at any of the health food stores, doesn't mean all of the products they carry are healthy. There is no substitute or excuse for reading food labels. And as you find products and brands that you can trust, it becomes easier to combat misleading marketing efforts and our own assumptions related to Health Halos.
We understand how difficult it can be to sort through all the options that claim to be "healthy". That's why we've made it our mission at Organic'ly Foods to provide consumers with transparency and peace of mind. No one deserves to be misled when it comes to the food we put in our bodies. So, if you're looking for a baking mix you can trust, then give Organic'ly a try today! Cause when we use the word "healthy", it actually means something!