Fact or Fad: how “clean” is causing a divide
It’s not surprising that Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop brand is causing controversy again. This time, it’s not about vaginal steaming or her one-cigarette-a-week habit. It’s about the word “clean.” Often used to describe natural beauty products, the word “clean” is also used to describe a certain way of eating. Both are about cutting ingredients deemed unhealthy by proponents of the clean movement.
Paltrow starred in a video produced by Vogue where she applied sunscreen so sparingly that dermatologists around the world were outraged. Although reps for Goop say that the video was edited to cut Paltrow’s full SPF routine, the video has the media questioning the clean movement.
If you’re picking up on the careful way we’re approaching this, it’s for good reason. While it makes perfect sense to be aware of the ingredients you put on and in your body, it doesn’t mean that products that don’t label themselves as “clean” are necessarily dirty or toxic.
What is most important for marketers to take away from the clean movement controversy is that encouraging restrictive diets or ways of living might be alienating potential consumers. As Nishta Saxena, the registered dietitian on the Felicity team says in this article about clean eating, “approaching nourishment in a polarizing, black and white way is documented to increase stress and anxiety and potentially create disordered patterns and thoughts about food.” And, says dermatologist Dr. Aegean Chan in The Kit, “This unnecessary fear-mongering is just harmful to people’s psyches.”
You want consumers to feel good and confident about buying your products. In our research for our white paper Is Wellbeing Washed Up?, we found that words consumers want to feel informed, hopeful, confident and inspired by health and wellness marketing, but they often feel overwhelmed, confused, embarrassed or ashamed. And words like “all-natural” and even “organic” were turn-offs. So keep your marketing clean and free of claims that may make them feel otherwise.