Health Food Innovation – Say ‘No’ to Negativity Biases!

16 January, 2020

Health food innovations need careful consideration. You need to stop and think about whether the health food innovation is a go-or no-go multiple times, as many consumers today are unsure about where they want to be, that is, on the health or treat side; or maybe even somewhere in between. To make the right decision, think logically about the health food innovation and pay special attention to the biases that creep up during the health food innovation process, as these biases may cloud your mind.

Health Food Innovations - Biases Need Careful Consideration! 

Biases, especially negativity biases can keep you from seeing the positive in any situation and steer you in the wrong direction. A negativity bias is a form of cognitive bias which forces the brain to focus more on negative versus positive events (1). Following are examples of situations where negativity biases usually play out with health food innovations and tips on dealing with these biases:

Situation 1:

Concept test for a health food innovation revealed that consumers liked the product and stated that they would consume the product, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. The challenge however, was that most consumers gave an average taste rating to the product.

Negativity bias: The project leader had previously worked on treat foods. For him, the learning had been, ‘if taste profile fails, the project is likely to fail’. Hence, he gravitated towards the taste profile data and questioned the credibility of the overall project.

Recommendations: The project leader should have focused on the positive, that is, on consumer acceptance of the health food innovation. And he should have looked for solutions to improve the taste profile of the product. Also he should have differentiated between health food innovation and treat food innovations. As, in case of health food innovations, health benefits may motivate a consumer to accept a lower taste profile. Whereas in case of treat foods, taste is generally the only desirable benefit, so consumer acceptance is likely to be low, if product taste profile is low.

In case of a health food product, an above average rating for concept and average rating for taste is fine for a product win, as the consumer is usually willing to compromise on taste, for a strong health benefit. 

Situation 2:

Concept test for the health food innovation was a success; but it revealed that the consumer was unsure about the cost of the product.

Negative bias: The project leader decided to cut cost by reducing the number and quantity of beneficial nutrients and ingredients. Only base ingredients and nutrients that could deliver some key claims at the lowest possible product cost were considered. True product differentiation versus the competition was compromised.

When you cut product cost, don't compromise on the number of or level of beneficial nutrients and or ingredients, as it compromises product claims and communication. This in turn, is likely to impact product marketability. 

Recommendations: In case of health food innovations, the product must deliver optimum benefits, as health benefits are the key reasons for purchasing the product. Hence, product profile must not be compromised, as the concept win was probably due to the health benefits that were promised to the consumer.

If product price is an issue, the project leader should have focused on the price. The solution could be to test price sensitivity again. This may help determine the sweet spot where the consumer becomes more comfortable with the price; and to compromise on product profit. Alternatively, the selling price point could be raised and the product could be sold at a premium price first. Also, he should have considered the fact, that once consumers make a health food product a healthy lifestyle habit, product consumption frequency and overall profit is likely to increase.

If product cost price is an issue for consumers, don't jump into compromising product to meet price expectations. Test price sensitivity to find a higher price point, that consumers may be willing to pay for product benefit. With this exercise, you can maintain product integrity, claims and marketability. 


The key with negativity biases really is to stop yourself when you say ‘yes but….’. Evaluate the situation on hand without a negative bias. Focus on the positives first, then on what needs improvement and the solution for the issue on hand. Overall with a positive mindset, you will see a collaborative building of ideas and project momentum versus a shut down.



Following are some interesting articles on negativity bias:
1. Negative Bias. You can find the article here.
2. Rouse, M. (2017, Feb 24). What is Negativity Bias? Retrieved from You can find the article here.