He then went on to explain he only buys organic, and the lack of the word 'organic' on the label' is another reason he wouldn't buy it. I had to bite my tongue before I made a comment about how blindly following such things is foolish. I could easily have given him many specific examples where it's simply a money-maker because the items were organic anyway, there is little or no advantage or a serious disadvantage for certain foods to be organic, or certain foods aren't really organic because of greedy companies labeling non-organic items as organic to boost their profits.
I did that 'smile and nod' thing I have heard so much about. It worked wonders. He moved on to ask what I do and what my thesis is on. Of course I excitedly told him it's on food labeling, and how we can alter consumers perceptions, even taste perceptions of foods through packaging. I grabbed the sauce bottle and used it as a prop to explain how we marketers can get consumers to pay more by making them *think* something is premium, when it really isn't.
He...did not like that. He did not like that at all.
Other label gimmicks are rampant. Chickens here can't be given growth hormones or raised in cages, but every chicken product in the supermarket has to say "hormone and cage free", lest consumers think the company that doesn't do this is worse than the others. Not to mention gluten free items for product types that have no gluten to begin with.
Game show idea: give three marketers 30 minutes in a supermarket to find as many products that they can that do this. Winner gets a year's supply of fat-free yogurt that is packed wish sugar.
My favorite podcast did an episode on organic food, and I'm stoked they mention the type of research my thesis was on. In blind taste tests people think vegetables *labelled* organic taste better (when it definitely doesn't).
I'm tempted to do a talk on organic food and market it to people who consume organic food, if only for the schadenfreude of being like a person telling a class of kids Santa isn't real.
To be clear, I'm not saying it isn't good, but it is not what most people think it is. Check out the Organic Food episode of Science Vs podcast.