Dive Into Guilt Free Indulgence

Dive Into Guilt Free Indulgence

The latest in our series on trend mashups (which started with our article on eco lux) is the unlikely combination of guilt free indulgence. This is where the ‘better for me’ trend comes face to face with the societal shift toward a more hedonistic lifestyle. The Food Peopledefine this merging of priorities as “better for me indulgence”.

As a nation, we’ve been on a diet for decades (whether it was Slimming World in the 1990’s, Atkins in the 2000’s, or South Beach and Dukan in the 2010’s) and now we’re craving indulgence. We may be dying for a full fat coke, or aching for that chocolate hit, but the healthy eating messaging all around us is unavoidable. What with the obesity crisis and the soft drinks sugar tax, the government is driving the agenda and healthy is set to become the new normal.

This is not about vegan or free-from. Though unavoidable and increasingly influential, these are inherently niche dietary and lifestyle choices (approx. 1% of the UK population are vegan). However, it does include an awful lot of overlap, as consumers are increasingly choosing gluten-free, dairy-free, meat-free (etc.) options as part of a healthy diet.

So, what are you going to do different (or the same…) to tap into this trend?

1 – Consider the language you use to describe your product

JAMA medicine conducted research in a university cafeteria, selling the exact same vegetable dishes under different names. The results of testing basic labelling versus healthy-restrictive, healthy-positive, and healthy-indulgent labelling, were pretty conclusive. “Indulgent language prevailed by 25% over basic descriptions, 41% over healthy but restrictive wording such as “reduced-sodium corn” and 35% over healthy positive labels like “vitamin-rich corn”.

While we all know consumers (and us!) prioritise taste over health when it comes to food, what the study reveals is the importance of the indulgent language used to describe the food; it “highlighted the success of phrases such as “twisted citrus-glazed carrots” and “dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets”.

Booja Booja

Image source: Booja Booja

Booja Booja make the most creamy ice cream and truffles. When I first ate them, I refused to believe they were dairy free. They are also free of sugar, using agave and coconut syrup to sweeten instead. These little tubs of delight are doing indulgence by the book. Dark, rich colours swirl in exotic looking patterns around little tubs that say premium with their tiny size. Words like “elaborate”, “swoons and swirls” mix with “truffley” and “schmoozles” to create an ever so slightly naughty (but still guilt free) indulgence. And all this from “clean and wholesome recipes have only a handful of carefully sourced organic ingredients”. Oh, and did I mention it’s kosher certified?

 2 – Play by the established category rules i.e. look and behave just like your less healthy competition

Judging by the supermarket shelves, this seems to be a popular option. And it makes sense; don’t stray too far from the fold and consumers feel comfortable, maybe even accidentally buy the product instead of their usual less healthy version. The risk is this; if the product looks too much like it’s less healthy counterpart, will the consumers actively looking for the healthy option find it? One way to minimize this risk is offering reassurance in the form of claims.

Brewtein and Nutribeer

Image source: Supplemental Brewing

Just when you thought you’d seen it all, healthy beer comes along. Supplemental Brewing‘s idea? Beer with a high protein % and slightly lower ABV than comparable American ales, designed for drinking after a workout or on the weekend as part of your effort to stay lean and mean. The bottle looks just like other ales of its type, the can maybe less so, and it promises all the taste of a regular American wheat ale.

Coast Bar

Image source: Coast Protein

Coast are offering high-protein snacking that is even better for you. That is, if you can get over the weirdness of eating insects. These are not the only cricket goodness touting brand out there (check out our article on gifts for foodies), but with their recipes for lavish chocolate shakes and ingredient focused imagery, they’ve made something unconventional seem normal, appealing even. Their cool, ultra-hip minimalist visual positioning means they wouldn’t be out of place in the premium confectionery aisle.


Image source: BEPPS

Don’t everybody rush at once, but there is a crisps-shaped hole emerging in consumers’ lives. BEPPS is the latest offering in a series of crisp-alternatives. Offering healthy, convenient snacking in a recognisable format, with even the flavours mirroring familiar crisp flavours, the pack promises fun and flavour. A world away from the worthy, hippy stylings associated with ingredients such as black-eyed peas. It’s guilt free because it’s puffed not fried. It’s high fibre, high protein, low-cal, non-GMO and MSG-free. It’s indulgence because it’s basically crisps. Win.

3 – Be literal with the trend (a mash up is a mash up after all)

Hail Merry

Image source: Hail Merry

Hail Merry’s irreverent, rebellious tattoo imagery just shouts indulgence. “Freedom to indulge” is their whole reason for being. The bites taken out of the tarts and the clean, white backgrounds of the design, backed by reasons to believe like “made fresh with virgin coconut oil and good fats from nuts” make for totally guilt free indulgence.

Their founder Susan O’Brien says “the name “Hail Merry” represents the subtle juxtaposition of rebel and reverence that exists within everyone. It’s the contradiction of mind-blowing indulgence from clean, plant-based ingredients.” The fact they come in cute single serve packs is all the more reason to indulge.

4 – Borrow from the expertise of an adjacent relevant category


Image source: Lo-Col and Flora

Take a leaf out of Lo-Col’s book. Looking down the aisle to the margarine category and taking inspiration from Flora, they’ve created a cholesterol-lowering cheese that doesn’t require consumers to make a huge leap in understanding. This is aimed at those following a reduced cholesterol diet, who would usually have to steer clear of cheese, but considering over half of all adults in England have raised cholesterol (Heart UK), maybe this has a wider market than it would seem?

…and the wildcard entry

Livia’s Kitchen

Image source: Livia’s Kitchen

You could do any of the above. Or, you could do what Livia’s Kitchen has done and play the homemade card.  The brainchild of neuroscience graduate Olivia, Livia’s Kitchen was created from her love of sweet things combined with her desire to eat healthily.

The name; the apron motif; the higgledy piggledy design all say ‘personal’ and ‘homemade’. This takes the consumer to comfort, deliciousness and indulgence, but it is also shorthand for wholesome and healthy. And these products are actually a little bit healthy – packed full of raw, plant-based ingredients, and free from dairy, gluten and refined sugar.

What next?

Often the success of the product is not down to the product itself, but how you sell it to the consumer. In the examples above we’ve got artisan indulgence (Booja Booja), playful indulgence (Hail Merry), as well as home-cooked indulgence (Livia’s Kitchen). How are you going to position your product?

This blog was originally posted on The Strategy Distillery website here

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Shelly GreenwayShelly Greenway is a front-end innovation strategist and partner at The Strategy Distillery – a brand innovation consultancy that specialises in opportunity hunting and proposition development. Their success rates are driven by their proprietary consumer co-creation IP. Follow @ChiefDistiller

Shelly Greenway

Front-end Innovation Strategist at The Strategy Distillery, a brand innovation consultancy that exists to increase NPD success rates.




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