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Buzzwords Show Varied Levels Of Impact On Food, Beverage Purchase Decisions

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There are a lot of buzzwords used in the world of food and beverage marketing today. It’s become commonplace to see advertisements touting products that are “craft” and “limited edition” and find packages emblazoned with words like “handcrafted” and “artisan.” But what do these words actually tell consumers about the products? And what influence might they have on purchases? A recent Harris Poll aims to find out just that.

“Handmade/handcrafted” tops the provided list as a mark of quality, with nearly six in 10 (59 percent) adults saying it strongly or somewhat communicates that a product is high quality. “Artisan/artisanal” and “custom” are the next best messengers of high quality, with 46 percent of adults saying each communicates this, followed by “craft” at 44 percent and “limited edition” at 41 percent. Just 31 percent say the same of “small batch.”

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,225 U.S. adults surveyed online May 20-26. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

When asked to estimate how much influence each description wields over their purchasing decisions, “handmade/handcrafted” shows the strongest potential sway with roughly half (48 percent) estimating it has some or a great deal of influence on their decisions. Over one-third say the same for “limited edition” (37 percent), “custom” (36 percent) or “artisan/artisanal” (36 percent). Just under one-third of adults (32 percent) estimate that “craft” has at least some influence, while “small batch” again trails the rest of the field, with one-quarter (25 percent) saying it has at least some influence on their purchases.

Time to limit ‘limited editions’?

But how saturated is the market becoming with labels like these? Currently, Americans find the use of “limited edition” to be anything but limited. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) believe this term is over used in marketing for food or beverage products. Half of adults say the same of “handmade/handcrafted” (52 percent), “craft” (51 percent), “artisan/artisanal” (51 percent) and “custom” (50 percent), while smaller percentages say the same of “small batch”—only one-third (32 percent) feel the phrase is over used, while 37 percent say it is neither over  nor under used.

‘Craft’-ing the message

Some descriptions are just better suited for one product over another. For example, beer best taps into the “craft” description; when presented with an extensive list of food and beverage categories and asked which fits with each label, just more than half (52 percent) of drinking-age Americans feel beer is an appropriate fit for “craft”—the top selection by a wide margin. One-quarter (25 percent) say liquor/spirits/cocktails is a strong fit for “craft,” while 20 percent say the same about wine and 27 percent don’t see “craft” as an appropriate fit with any of the product categories tested.

“Handmade/handcrafted” may be best suited to foods on the sweeter side, as baked goods (46 percent), jam/jelly/preserves (45 percent) and chocolate/candy (43 percent) are all seen as appropriate fits by more than four in 10 Americans.

The items most seen as appropriate fits for “artisan/artisanal” descriptions are cheese (38 percent) and baked goods (36 percent), followed more distantly by coffee (23 percent).

Beverages prove to be good fits for both “limited edition” and “small batch,” with three in 10 Americans age 21 and over saying wine (30 percent and 27 percent, respectively) and one quarter saying liquor/spirits/cocktails (28 percent and 25 percent, respectively) are appropriate fits. All adults also agree soda/carbonated beverages (28 percent) are a good fit for “limited edition.” Stepping away from the beverage category, 26 percent say jam/jelly/preserves is a good fit for “small batch” branding.

“Custom” shows the most diversity in responses, with 24 percent saying pet food and 23 percent saying coffee are appropriate fits. However, it should be noted that 39 percent say none of the food/beverage options presented are an appropriate fit for this choice.

Generations divide

Among the questions of high quality, influence on purchasing decisions and over use of the terms, key differences exist between generations. Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to say “handmade/handcrafted,” “craft” and “small batch” communicate that a product is high quality:

• “Handmade/Handcrafted”: 66 percent Millennials vs. 58 percent Gen Xers, 55 percent Baby Boomers and 69 percent Matures.

• “Craft”: 53 percent vs. 45 percent, 40 percent and 31 percent.

• “Small batch”: 39 percent vs. 31 percent, 27 percent and 19 percent.

Furthermore, 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.

• “Limited edition”: 46 percent Millennials vs. 46 percent Gen Xers, 31 percent Baby Boomers and 25 percent Matures.

• “Custom”: 46 percent vs. 35 percent, 30 percent vs. 27 percent.

• “Artisan/Artisanal”: 44 percent vs. 34 percent, 31 percent and 28 percent.

• “Craft”: 39 percent vs. 30 percent, 28 percent vs. 21 percent.

On the other hand, it’s the older generations who are more likely to tout them as over used:

• Baby Boomers are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to say both “limited edition” (69 percent vs. 62 percent and 58 percent, respectively) and “craft” (57 percent vs. 47 percent and 49 percent, respectively) are over used.

• Matures are more likely than Millennials and Gen Xers to say the same about “custom” (60 percent vs. 46 percent and 47 percent) and “small batch” (41 percent vs. 28 percent and 29 percent).

About the author

Kristen Cloud

A former newspaper editor and publisher, she once enjoyed leisurely perusing the grocery store aisles but, since having a baby in 2016, she is now an enthusiastic click-and-collect shopper.

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