"Ingredient-free" or "free from" is a form of branding that has become increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more consumers are looking for products that are free from certain ingredients that they may want to avoid or be allergic to. This type of branding focuses not on the presence of an ingredient, but its absence, and is often seen on products that are labeled as gluten-free, sugar-free, or preservative-free. There are a number of benefits to ingredient-free branding, which I will explore in this essay.
The first benefit of ingredient-free branding is that it can attract a niche customer looking for a product without an ingredient they would like to avoid or be allergic to. For example, a person who has celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed, may look for gluten-free products. They could go to a store that sells gluten-free goods and pick a product with gluten-free labeled on it. Similarly, a person who is watching their sugar intake may look for products that are labeled as sugar-free. By using ingredient-free branding, manufacturers can appeal to these customers who are specifically looking for products that are free from certain ingredients.
The second benefit of ingredient-free branding is that it can create a sense of value through imputation. Imputation refers to the idea that consumers can infer certain qualities about a product based on the information that is provided to them. For example, if a product is labeled as gluten-free, consumers may infer that other, similar products contain gluten. Similarly, if a product is labeled as preservative-free, consumers may infer that other products contain preservatives. By using ingredient-free branding, manufacturers can create the impression that their product is superior to others on the market, even if they do not directly make this claim themselves.
To illustrate this point, let's take a look at a hypothetical example. Imagine a consumer who is looking to buy a fruit juice, and they have two options available in the market, one labeled "preservative-free" and the other not. Without any other information to go on, the consumer might assume that the juice without the preservative-free label contains some sort of preservatives, in contrast, the juice that is labeled as preservative-free would be considered as a healthier option, this is the idea behind the imputation that ingredient-free branding offers.
- To Be or Not to Be: That is the Gluten-Free Marketing Question | Oklahoma State University
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