Judge and Jury: Benecol forces consumers to pit price against healthier hearts - The newest entry to the margarine market is undoubtedly better for your health, but will UK consumers be prepared to pay extra for it, asks Angie Searle, executive director o

Last week saw the UK launch of Benecol, a new fat-busting margarine from Finland. Benecol is a mixture of wood pulp and fatty acids, which helps reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and thus helps fight heart disease, the UK’s biggest killer.

Last week saw the UK launch of Benecol, a new fat-busting margarine

from Finland. Benecol is a mixture of wood pulp and fatty acids, which

helps reduce the amount of cholesterol in the blood and thus helps fight

heart disease, the UK’s biggest killer.



The environment was ripe for the launch of this first major

’nutraceutical’ - a nutritional food with pharmaceutical benefit.



The story had everything going for it: a novel concept in food and

health, already proven to work elsewhere. So how effectively was the

word on the margarine spread - too thin, or plenty of fat?



Coverage appeared in all the nationals and on mainstream TV and

radio.



The key product message pick-up was good and the space devoted to it was

sizeable - no mean feat in a week when Kosovo dominated the news.



Unfortunately one main message did not hit home - cost. Benecol is

priced at pounds 2.49 for a 250g tub. None of the media appeared to pick

up on a ’cost versus value’ message, critical to the majority of the 70

per cent of adults with high-cholesterol levels as they fall into the C,

D and E social brackets and do not have the disposable income to justify

this ’additional’ expense, without clearly understanding the

benefits.



The coverage so far suggests that the client is unsure about how to best

position the product. From the launch there would appear to have been,

at best, a minimal pre-launch awareness campaign. There was no sign of

key opinion formers pulling in one direction to support this

product.



With awareness of the importance of cholesterol reduction being high,

Benecol could have been launched with a hard-hitting health message from

doctors and personalised by celebrities to the target audience. However,

Carol Vorderman was the celebrity who fronted the launch - perhaps not

the most empathetic to Cs, Ds and Es.



So the verdict? The product launch achieved effective communication of

some specific product messages, but there was little pre-launch

awareness or key opinion former support. The real challenge now is to

educate health care professionals and consumers about the product and

its benefits to drive longer-term use.



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