Tuesday, January 15, 2008

South Beach Diet Now Emphasizing Lifestyle Change With New Name

I snapped a picture of the new South Beach packaging at Sam's Club

One of the most common themes I talk about is how you can't just go on a low-carb "diet," but that you must make it your permanent and healthy lifestyle change. That's why I use livin' la vida low-carb instead of "low-carb diet" to describe this way of eating for me. It's all about the "living" and the makers of the bestselling South Beach line of products are finally embracing this concept in their marketing.

This Cape Cod Times story explains why Kraft Foods, manufacturer of the popular low-carb food line prominently using the name of Dr. Arthur Agatston's famous diet plan, has changed the name from "South Beach Diet" to the new and improved "South Beach Living." Sure, it's merely semantics but the word "diet" has almost become taboo now. Lifestyle change or "living" is a kinder, gentler way of saying the same thing.

According to the article, consumers have become increasingly agitated by the use of the word "diet" and would prefer to be pursuing healthy "living" instead. After all, it's better to be living than the alternative (which just coincidentally happens to be the first three letters of that "d" word we no longer like!). Or is this much ado about nothing by some back room marketing executives?

The story goes on to site other examples of this move away from the use of "diet" in the marketing of products, including the much-heralded Coke Zero--a new version of Diet Coke that is sweetened with the overly-used sugar substitute aspartame (or as I call it NASTY-tame!) and the sweetener-enhancing acesulfame potassium (ACE-K). The Coca-Cola Company credits the absence of "diet" in the name of their product to its early success (no, it couldn't have anything to do with the fact that every other commercial on television was advertising Coke Zero when it came out, couldn't it? NAH!).

They say young men (hey, I'm still pretty young at 36) wouldn't buy Diet Coke because it was a chick thing. For me, it wasn't about anything other than taste. Regular Diet Coke is disgusting to me which is why I prefer Diet Coke with Splenda (sweetened with Splenda and ACE-K) or the caffeine-free Diet Rite which is also sweetened with Splenda and ACE-K).

I think these marketing analysts get a little too caught up in their own little world to really know why anyone buys their product. It probably has a lot less to do with how offensive the word "diet" is on a product and more about the quality that "diet" product offers. I'm personally disgusted by aspartame and try to avoid it as much as possible in the diet sodas and other products I consume. Give me good quality alternatives (which includes diet sodas sweetened with the plant-based stevia) and I'll show you a consumer base that will clamor for your products.

Getting back to the South Beach product line for a moment, a Kraft representative says they want to "broaden the appeal of the brand and fuel its growth" by implementing this name change. Since more people are looking to eat healthy rather than losing weight (something I discussed in a recent podcast show), they wanted to put that message on the 70 South Beach products that line supermarket shelves. And "South Beach Living" fits the bill.

I blogged about the tremendous success of the South Beach Diet food products in early 2006 which was the "primary growth driver" for Kraft. In a market that doesn't have much competition, South Beach has great name recognition and fits a niche market. The tens of millions of South Beach Diet followers are a built-in consumer base for these products, although I highly suspect most who have read Dr. Agatston's books don't currently buy the products. That certainly opens the door for creating a wider customer appeal by marketing it for healthy "living."

Although the popularity of The South Beach Diet books was at its highest in 2003, there is still great interest in it as well as general low-carb in 2008 thanks to the resurgence in this way of eating that has happened over the past couple of years within the researcher community and with a big boost most recently by the release of Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories. One criticism I have about the South Beach products is that they contain some ingredients I wouldn't necessarily put in my mouth (sugar, flour, and the like) and have a higher carb count (double-digit carbohydrates for a bar is NOT good) than I feel comfortable with on my low-carb lifestyle. But that's just me.

That said, I know people who swear by these products and love 'em! Good for them and I certainly don't want to discourage anyone from using these South Beach Living products if they work for you. CONGRATULATIONS on making this "diet" your new way of "living" for life. In the end, that's all that really matters if you have found a way to be healthy.

Does this name change from "diet" to "living" make you more likely to buy Kraft's South Beach products or does it really matter at all? Share your feedback about this in the comments section below.

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Blogger Suzan said...

Thanks for this post.

I love SBD. I love the recipes.

I absolutely do not like the food for the same reasons you mentioned, and because of all the artificial stuff. (I'd rather cook my own SBD food.) So I guess for me a name change doesn't make me want to buy it more. If it was something I liked, it wouldn't matter what it was named.

Maybe people who don't usually diet might buy it now.

1/15/2008 6:20 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

I guess I personally never thought of diet as something you got on and off.
When I hear the word "diet", to me it just means what someone eats.
I find myself always wanting to use the word diet, but realizing that others might think I'm refering to a fad crash diet.
But I guess I do prefer the name "South Beach Living" to "diet" just because there are way too many products out there that say "diet". :)

1/15/2008 6:51 PM  
Blogger Verlin said...

I'm not sure this will do what Kraft expects. They aren't changing the name of the book, are they? Consumers put a lot of trust in brand names, and they don't take to changes too easily. One would think Kraft would know that better than anyone.

Verlin Henderson

1/15/2008 7:19 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Name change or not, I think the value of the South Beach meals lies in the convenience factor. Although my husband and I regularly eat lower carb than these meals offer, I usually have a few of the SB meals in the freezer for those "dang, I don't have time to make anything for lunch and am running late this morning" moments. They may not be perfect, but they're certainly a better option than vending machines or the close-to-work fast food options. Do we use them often? Nope. Would we purchase a lower carb frozen meal if available? You bet.....but in the meantime, they're often the least of the evils when you're rushed. :)

1/15/2008 8:51 PM  
Blogger RJ said...

Buy this product just because of the name change? Nah, I just would buy it because I know it is sorta low carb. I thought it was funny when I started seeing South Beach commercials using the word "Living", and knew they must want to avoid being considered a low carb product since all other products have bailed out of stores. I got into a debate with my co-worker regarding low carb. They are saying that it is a fad and not working. Wrong! Oh boy! :)

1/16/2008 12:24 AM  
Blogger Alex said...

I'm looking into the big controversy that saturated fats cause atherosclerosis. It seems the medical establishment and most people on the web agree with this point.

1/16/2008 12:55 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

The name isn't of particular importance to me, but I really appreciate the nutritional content since it's geared for low-carbers. Also convenience is certainly a big factor since it's often difficult to carve out enough time to cook from scratch. And of the SBD products I've had an opportunity to try, the taste has been consistently good, if not great!

1/16/2008 10:01 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Hey Alex,

I don't think the saturated fat/atherosclerosis connection is gonna last much longer. Too much incredible research is coming out showing saturated fat is PROTECTIVE against heart disease. Feel free to e-mail me if you'd like some links for reference. THANKS for your post!

1/16/2008 10:08 AM  
Blogger Sparky's Girl said...

You can put living, diet, gruel, torture... whatever wording you like on it. Doesn't matter. Unless the consumer makes their plan a true lifestyle, all the rewording in the world won't help. Buying a new product because it lacks the word diet is ridiculous. Just because the package says "living" or the ads say "lifestyle" doesn't make it so. It's still part of a diet plan. A lifesytle... YOU have to do that part.

1/16/2008 11:38 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Well said Amy!

1/16/2008 11:41 AM  
Blogger Pot Kettle Black said...

Hey Jimmy,

Let's just say, the shift from dieting to life planning has been underway for a while (Protein Power Life Plan, 2000). Even LLVLC recent tout, the TNT diet is really Targetted Nutrition Tacticts, rather than a diet. I look at the carb content of SBD (or SBL) products, and it's generally a no.

A quick quibble:
You wrote: "...the sweetener-enhancing acesulfame potassium (ACE-K)."

ACE-K is actually a good bit sweeter than sugar, but not as sweet at sucralose. It's not there to enhance sweetness, but more to make chemically tasting stuff (like splenda, which tastes like chlorine to people with very sensitive palates, like me) or grossly oversweet stuff (like Stevia) taste more like sugar. Has a quick fading sweet that helps cut the aftertaste of Splenda and Stevia.

It is a sweetener improver, but it doesn't really enhance sweetness.

1/16/2008 5:56 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

I suppose "sweetener improver" is what I was implying with the phrase "sweetener enhancing." Always happy to be corrected. :D

1/16/2008 5:58 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

Well, since most people associate the word "diet" with "temporary eating change to lose weight," this wording change is appropriate, I feel. In fact it was one of the strengths of the Atkins line, that they didn't label their stuff "Atkins diet [name of product]." But Dr. Atkins said all along that it was a way of eating, not just a weight-loss regime.

I think I might actually agree with the idea that a lot of guys avoid Diet Coke because they see it as a "chick thing." It just "feels" right to me, somehow. Guys don't feel the pressure to diet that women do unless they are way overweight--like you were, Jimmy.

I think Coke Zero has a different amount of caffeine than Diet Coke, actually. I agree with you that the Splenda Coke is better; we get it in my area too. Although I would not touch Coke with a ten-foot pole if they started using stevia in it. Too many companies selling stevia don't process it correctly, and I HATE the aftertaste.

ACE-K has another function or two besides mitigating the taste of artificial sweeteners. I don't find that Splenda tastes like chemicals, so I think they use the ACE-K to cut the sucralose and hence the cost. Also? I notice that if I drink a diet soda with ACE-K in it on a regular basis when I'm low-carbing, I am far less likely to get muscle cramps from too little potassium. Go figure, huh?

1/18/2008 10:52 AM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

Actually, Coke Zero doesn't have any more caffeine than Diet Coke does--yet Pepsi Max, another new "diet" soda with NASTY-tame and ACE-K does along with other "energy" stuff like ginseng.

1/18/2008 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Megan Bagwell said...

South Beach Living's new High Protein Cereal Bars (at least I think they're new! First I've seen them!) are really good for maintenance level low-carbing. 10 grams of protein and 9 grams net carbs. My favorite is the Peanut Butter bar! The Chocolate is OK. The rest of the products I've tried from them haven't hit the spot, in my opinion!

5/11/2009 9:08 PM  

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