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27 June 2024

Robot Fodder Vol 11

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Trends with benefits

Every protein bar, elixir and new-age cereal on the market now has its own unique ‘better for you’ promise. However, with their overwhelming ingredient lists and overpromising benefits claims, attempts to build trust through transparency have started to backfire on beloved brands.

Poppi is the most recent brand in the firing line. The celebrity-loved beverage company advertised as a ‘healthy’ alternative to soda is accused of misleading customers on health benefits in a recent lawsuit.

We've witnessed how greenwashing led consumers to see red but is benefits-washing the next brand tactic that’s no longer fit for purpose?


The food and drinks industry is facing a multitude of challenges, from crop quality to misinformation surrounding health fads. These factors are collectively influencing people's consumption choices and prompting them to reassess their everyday eating and drinking habits. Ingredion’s 2024 consumer food preference trends report shows that 75% of consumers are being more discerning about food and beverage products to enhance their nutrition. Shoppers now prioritise clear, informative labelling following a 43% increase in label-checking.

While supermarket staples have been getting bigger, juicier and more appealing, their nutritional content hasn’t kept up. According to a study published by Mayer in 2022, comparing food in the UK in 1940, 1991 and 2019, there has been a staggering decline in nutrients. So, what might look and taste like a carrot, isn’t as good for you as it once was. Some brands, such as FS Greens and Bloom, have begun addressing this nutrient decline by offering all-in-one solutions to help people get their recommended five a day. This raises the question of whether enriching everyday foods with added nutrition will soon become a necessity and a standard practice in the future.

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Advertising regulations and what brands can legally claim have become more stringent, making communicating product benefits more challenging than ever. Plus, hanging your hat on benefits alone isn’t going to have much longevity. Brands need to find new ways to connect with consumers and offer better, as some are tuning into the woes of healthy eating to ease the tension between healthy foods and feel-good options. For example, Lunar Lifts relates to consumers’ grievances with functional foods by positioning its products as an antidote to ‘scarfing down the same chalky vanilla protein shakes every day.’ This relatable approach demonstrates how better-for-you products can differentiate themselves and fit into the intersection of beloved foods with even more to love.

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Now nutritional value is more important than ever, brands need to work harder to make informed food choices easier. The growth of functional foods, along with brands taking advantage of benefit-led approaches, has made the market confusing for consumers. Focusing on clear labels, educational information and truthful health claims empowers consumers with knowledge. But there still needs to be a balance of fun and functional. Appealing to consumers’ desire for indulgence through products that bring benefits to products otherwise considered treats removes the guilt from pleasure.

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What’s going on?

Oodles of noodle goodness

Apparently you can have it all. Goodles has reimagined your favourite comfort food to be preposterously delicious and nutrient-packed. Their high protein and high-fibre box mac n cheese comes in a variety of whacky flavours and has even whackier merch to go with it - rainbow spork anyone?

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Get lit, without feeling shit

Peak makes mood-enhancing beverages from natural ingredients, adaptogens, and nootropics that are designed to be a healthier alternative to alcohol. Marketed as 'Drinks to enhance the way you feel’, Peak boosts or calms your mood depending on your need by naturally increasing the production of 'feel-good' chemicals in your brain (dopamine and serotonin).

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Healthy & Yummy = Hummii

Hummii has taken everyone’s all-time favourite snacks (specifically M&M’s) and given them a better-for-you makeover packed with all the fun you remember. This playful ‘Hummiiverse’ gamifies health with ‘mighty mascots’ battling to take back their universe from the evil Sugar Corp. The idea needs some fine-tuning but the concept shows just how healthy eating can be playful and take on the competition.

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“Brands built solely on benefits won’t stand out. They’re too open to challenge, change and copycats. Context matters: brands need to frame their benefits as part of a bigger, more compelling story. Otherwise, how can customers tell which ‘better’ is better?”

Clayton Davis
Copy Director

RF Portraits 2022 Clayton