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The lifestyle brand: What is it and why is it important?

By Kevin Barasa

Consumers view products they purchase as an expression of who they are and what they stand for. As consumers become ever-more sophisticated, their choices are driven more by emotion and self-actualization. Enter the lifestyle brand. This type of brand, defined as a brand that attempts to embody the values, interests, attitudes and pastimes of a group or a culture, offers consumers a means of self-expression through their products.

With today’s increasingly connected world, staying detached from life outside of product offerings is no longer the safe bet it once was, as 73% of Millennials believe that businesses should share a point of view about issues according to MSLGroup. With the amount of branded content that consumers are faced with on a daily basis, Trendwatching.com suggests that in today’s landscape, staying neutral can mean a slow drift into obscurity.

Social media provides an additional platform for showing off or simply amplifying a stylized version of today’s consumer and the lifestyle brand offers consumers a way to reinforce or supplement their identity by publicly associating themselves with a brand. The symbolic value of a product is determined by more than the functionality of a product. It is driven by the type of benefit the product provides and the actions and convictions of the brand behind the product.

The good news for companies in the food industry is that they’re particularly well positioned to develop into lifestyle brands. Here’s why:

Food is so much more than fuel.

So, goes the old adage “We are what we eat”. At Sensient Flavors, we understand that food choices make a statement. Ahead-of-the-trend flavors, indulgent inclusions, stealth sugar reduction, organic meat flavors—they all carry meaning. Understanding the type of consumer who makes these choices and the type of lifestyle or worldview they are cultivating will help your brand take a stand outside of the product offering.

Food brings people together.

When it comes to lifestyle branding, sharing and community is key. This behavior is fundamental to our food culture. When you give consumers a talking point about your product, our culture is hardwired to discuss it while sharing food and will be your brand’s best promotional tool.

Food is aspirational.

Lifestyle brands thrive on aspirational shoppers (“Eating this nutrition bar supports my active lifestyle!” or “I love to explore cultures through their exotic flavors!”). So whether it’s an increased nutrient profile or indulging the explorer, brands that speak to consumers’ life outside of food will find favor in the marketplace.