Newswise — This week, Campbell announced changes in its famous chicken soup recipe. The company significantly cut down the number of ingredients in an effort to please growing health concerns among its customers. Jonathon Schuldt, professor of communication in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, says Campbell dropped difficult-sounding names, which consumers perceive as riskier.


Schuldt says:

“The decision by Campbell’s to decrease the number of ingredients in its classic soup recipe is part of a larger trend by companies to reposition their brands as simpler, more natural, and wholesome, to meet changing consumer demand.

“Increasingly, consumers are equating a smaller number of ingredients with the healthfulness of food products. Leading food writers such as Michael Pollan have popularized the idea that ‘less is more,’ and the concept now appears to resonate with large segments of consumers.

“Also noteworthy is the type of ingredients cut by Campbell, in addition to the number. Gone are disodium ionsinate, disodium guanylate, maltodextrin—ingredients that are difficult to pronounce and are likely to feel unfamiliar to many label readers.

“Psychologists have a name for this pronunciation difficulty—it’s called disfluency—and studies have shown that it can affect consumer perceptions in ways that are not necessarily good for companies. For instance, a number of studies suggest that difficult-to-pronounce ingredients are perceived as riskier, which of course is not the image a company wants to cultivate when attempting to meet rising demand for simpler and more natural recipes.”

Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.

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