Healthy eating and nutritional values have received much publicity in recent years. At the same time, food manufacturers are expected to take responsibility in general and especially for health in both food production and retail. In response to the growing importance ascribed to responsibility and ethicality in business, Kujala et al. (2011) introduced the ‘responsible brand’ concept. In this study, we address responsible branding in the food market. The companies we examine in this study aim to bring to market products that help people eat healthier. They all operate in the snack market and emphasize the healthiness of their products in unusual ways. The aim of this research is to shed light on how a healthy and, thus, responsible brand is built for a snack product without health and nutritional claims.
Symbols such as a name, package and colours all aim to personalize a product so that it might be identifiable and distinct from others, thereby helping customers with their purchase decisions. The main goal is to form a bond between the brand and a specific consumer group and make the brand relevant through functional, symbolic and social characteristics. In this study, we apply the conceptual model of building a responsible brand in Kujala et al. to the snack product category. In the literature, snacks are defined as either meals between actual meals or smaller amounts of food consumed once. While healthier snack options exist, companies struggle with the unhealthy image of ‘snack foods’.
In this research, we studied responsible branding of snack food products. We focused on how companies create a responsible brand for their snacks without health and nutrition claims. We applied the concept of responsible branding of Kujala et al. (2011), including six integrated building blocks: vision, goal, implementation, stakeholder analysis, identity and evaluation. Protecting nature through the sustainable use of raw materials and helping customers make better, healthier and more sustainable choices were at the heart of the snack producers’ vision. This vision was formulated as the goal of being responsible in all activities in order for the brand to create a responsible overall image.
This study broadened the understanding of how foods can be marketed healthy and responsible without statutory health and nutrition claims. In emerging markets, such as the snack product market, branding a product responsibly is not an end in itself, but companies rely on the different product features of their products, especially taste, as a competitive factor. Responsibility is reflected in food companies, especially in the consideration of natural values in production and in promoting the well-being of customers at the product level.