Just enter any well-stocked supermarket in the city to realize that proteins are the last frontier of food marketing. Whether they are traditional, organic, vegan or other products, proteins have become a selling point widely used by the food industry.
Ignored until recently, proteins are a transversal topic that could not be ignored in food marketing. And it is precisely this transversality that makes them unique together with the fact that by now everyone knows that this macronutrient is used by the body to build muscles.
Once the fats have been investigated and cleared the carbohydrates, which will be the next big return in the supermarket market, protein is now the undisputed star of supermarket shelves.
They range from milk-based drinks and proteins to protein bars with a thousand tastes, shapes and purposes. I have protein bread, protein spread and straight protein beer. Everything always focused on the “fitness” public. Proteins are the last frontier of food marketing. Already because it seems that by now proteins are a kind of magical element that puts us back in shape. First it was cereal bars, now proteins.
Responsible marketing and fitness
Anyone who knows me, also knows that I have always pursued the culture of responsible and ethical marketing. I mean a marketing that makes use of all the persuasion techniques, ultimately making the consumer aware of what he consumes.
Selling protein-based products by passing them on to products that help you get back in shape or become more muscular is not part of this philosophy.
I mean that it does not seem very honest to extrapolate the characteristics of a macronutrient from the context of a complete and balanced diet to create disinformation in people with the sole aim of selling a product.
There are various aspects of this phenomenon that in 2019 marked a growth in sales of 11% according to the COOP 2019 report and that partly also affect the world of fitness.
The first aspect is that the attempt to evangelize people towards a healthier lifestyle is actually working since food consumption generally does not grow anymore.
Also because of the economic situation, people eat less and in themselves this is a comforting fact. On the other hand, there is a greater tendency to purchase healthy products, and here the protein comes into play precisely as the only healthy component of the diet.
The difference between today and the past is that in the case of fats and carbohydrates a demonization strategy of these macronutrients has been chosen while now we choose instead to enhance the proteins and their virtues by exaggerating the role.
Result significantly more expensive products with a protein content that is basically the same as before the proteins were chosen as a sales argument. There are yoghurts that cost up to three times those “normal” only because in their packaging there is indicated in large letters the content of proteins which, if we then go to see, is at best one or two grams more than that of competitor “poor in proteins”.
But there are proteins inside
Of course there are proteins as there are in so many other products but these, since they make you notice them, are more good. It’s like the notorious 30 minutes a day of physical activity that really don’t help much. Of course it is always better than sitting all day but from there to define them physical activity, it takes courage. I also quote the example of milk that contains calcium and is good for your bones.
They are the fashions of the moment and there are always so many, like that of ecology at all costs .
As a worker in the fitness sector and as a promoter of a healthy but also conscious lifestyle I find all this really frustrating. I spend most of my day explaining to people that knowledge is everything, that you need to stay informed and know things to understand them, and above all that anyone who sells something has a duty to explain well what it is for.
Unfortunately, thanks to the fact that people are lazy and often instead of checking the information they prefer to take the ones already made for them, just write something on a box to make a product “the answer to all ills”.
In practice, the work of those who spread a healthy and conscious lifestyle becomes even more difficult and as well as the consumption of ready meals, not so much because there is no time to cook but because you are lazy, the products with many are also increasing benefits only because it is written on the box.
Knowing a priori that people trust me it seems very unfair to take advantage of it to sell products out of a specific context and even if small, somewhere it is always written that “the product must be included in a balanced diet blah blah blah” at the end it is inserted only in its abuse.
It happens with supplements, it happens with energy drinks, which have nothing to do with energy and now also happens with protein-based products. Except with meat. That is now the bad guy on duty.
Maybe that’s right
The question I ask myself and I ask you is: “And if you take advantage of people’s laziness to sell them things that are not what they believe?”.
“And if people, lazy and unwilling to inform themselves, deserve this sort of punishment for not taking control of their lives and deciding their own behaviors based on knowledge?”
I will be a romantic and I will be one who probably as a marketing executive in GDO would last shortly and sell zero, but I believe that it is still possible to do marketing honestly and above all by making people aware of what they do and not leveraging their weaknesses. And what do you think?