The Imperfect Shift

If you’ve been paying close attention you’ve noticed a small shift brands have been making over the past few years. Brands like Dove are leading the charge by bringing in real women instead of models to help promote their campaign for real beauty. Domino’s pizza has not only brought harsh consumer feedback of the brand to the forefront, they’re now making the imperfect shape of their new “artisan” pizzas a unique selling point. Food companies are removing food coloring and dyes from their products that serve a sole purpose of making the product more visually appealing and clear windows in packaging are giving consumers the message of “what you see is what you get.” Imperfection is clearly taking over.

Marketers and brands are getting their cues from generations embracing small batch, craft, organic and DIY products that have an inherently imperfect feel. They are embracing real life moments over picture-perfect events that overtook the generations before them. A desire for fewer material things and more experiences and memories in the bank is causing a different life appreciation and shifted standards. Mega brands that pump out product on a mass production line feel over-engineered and over-proceed to the Millennial audience.

How far consumers are willing to go, though, is still the question. What this audience demands from their imperfections may take an even more over-engineered process to emulate. The right communication and messaging will need to position these imperfections and newly celebrated flaws as a cut above the rest.

Imperfections are the next chapter in the transparency movement brands must adhere to in order to connect with their consumers and establish trust and credibility.  Just as the demand for real over fake and pronounceable ingredients over a laundry list of chemicals is higher each year, so will be the desire for full disclosure from brands. Honesty has become the new standard, whether actual honesty or simply perceived honesty.

With contributions by Jen Aldinger 


Brad is an expert in private label and challenger brand food marketing for Barkley, an integrated marketing and advertising agency. He specializes in working with manufacturing-driven food companies that have aspirations to develop a consumer insight-led strategies to help drive innovation and growth.

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