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It’s ‘simply’ and not ‘natural’ to PepsiCo

No longer marketed as "Natural," some PepsiCo products now are branded "Simply."
No longer marketed as "Natural," some PepsiCo products now are branded "Simply."PepsiCo

For many years, consumers have shopped for “natural” products. The word “natural” was appropriate for food that allowed a person to follow a certain diet. “Natural” also was associated with non-food products, drawing the interest of consumers who wanted to reduce their carbon footprints.

Now, “natural” just is not working for some, including PepsiCo. The company has removed “Natural” from the names of some products, replacing the word with “Simply.”

Although ingredients remain identical, the “Simply Natural” line of Frito-Lay chips now is simply called ‘Simply.” The “Natural Quaker Granola” now is “Simply Quaker Granola.”

The product name changes occurred quietly late last year. PepsiCo claims it updated marketing strategies. Coincidentally, the changes occurred as PepsiCo and other companies faced legal challenges for the use of the word “natural.”

A Natural Headache

Using the word “natural” in product names and descriptions is providing companies with marketing and legal pain. Changing tactics may be just the prescription. PepsiCo already removed the words “all natural” from its Naked brand juices. A lawsuit cited that the drinks contained artificial ingredients. A separate lawsuit challenged the company’s “natural” description of some of its chips.

Legally, the Food and Drug Administration does not define the meaning and use of the word “natural.” The FDA does not object to the word as long as products do not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances.

Whether it is the lawsuits, consumer inquiries, or an actual update of marketing and packaging, PepsiCo has realized that distancing itself from “natural” is not a simple process.

Even the word “simply” has drawn the attention of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. The organization met with General Mills a few years ago concerning that company’s labeling on products such as “Simply Fruit,” which contained canola oil and carrot juice and not simply fruit.

Some marketing solutions just may not be that simple.