The Misleading Effect of the Marketing of Healthy Food Products

Aneelah Hussain

Student thesis: Master thesis


The emerging health trend gave rise to a new uncovered consumer need and, thus, entailed that many new products that could potentially cover this need were introduced to the market. Superfoods, such as acai and goji berries, are now a big part of the market of healthy food products and are also seen incorporated in healthy products introduced to cover the above‑mentioned new need that appeared on the market. However, as with every product, the introduction of a new product also involves the marketing of it. Food companies supplying healthier options rely mainly on the product (Appendix 5), and the focus of their marketing therefore also lies here. Consumer attention is achieved through creative marketing of the product itself and product elements such as packaging, graphic design and health claims are in focus (Candelaria, 2016). Even though a new need is being covered, this use of creative food marketing contributes to create a misleading marketplace (Candelaria, 2016). However, this misleading effect is often not recognized by businesses, whilst the consumers claim that such an effect occurs. Whether the former or the latter party is correct is not of interest in this study. Rather, the complexity of the marketing of healthy products that this disagreement illustrates, is of interest. As many factors play a role in an in‑store purchase situation (Clement et al, 2012), it is assumed that the same applies when a misleading effect occurs. Thus, it is hypothesized that the marketing of healthy food products is a complex process, and the study intends to investigate whether it is possible to avoid misleading consumers when introducing generic products with added value, here healthy products, to the market. The research paper is based on the company Little Miracles’ product, firstly, to examine what effect it has on consumers and if it has the potential to mislead, and, secondly, to discuss the differing perspective of consumers and businesses. Both aspects are discussed to illustrate the complexity that the marketing of healthy food products brings with it. The findings are based on two focus groups conducted with consumers and an interview conducted with the representatives of Little Miracles, and it can be concluded that introducing a value‑added generic product to the market is indeed a complex process and a large part of it is impossible for businesses to control, making it difficult to avoid the misleading effect from occurring.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages107
SupervisorsJesper Clement