Consequently, after years of distribution solely via the Pharmacy channel, the ‘free’ range has now invaded the shelves of large-scale retail channels and become mainstream. It is no longer a specialist range: even companies are investing in the segment by launching private brand lines.
The first challenge faced by these products is to transform the fundamental motives behind choosing a ‘free’ range into positive aspects. This necessity is actually an opportunity and it starts with the name: the adverb ‘without’ has now made way for the positive concept of ‘free’. ‘Free from’ has become the universal code for this category.
Apart from the name, the visual language tends to be more cheerful and colourful, reinforcing the product as a healthy alternative to the standard item.
The second obstacle is taste: if something has been removed, the product cannot be as delicious. Manufacturing technology has now reached such levels that it can match the standard offer in terms of organoleptic quality. The visual language tends therefore to communicate maximum flavour in order to balance out the healthy guarantee with the appetising nature of the product.
One of the characteristics of products for controlled diets is the extension of the promise to diverse categories on the market. In these cases, the pack system remains unchanged over the shelves and dominates over category logic.
Since the promise is first and foremost the solution to a dietary problem, the colour may be incoherent with the codes of the single categories covered by the range. The colour is the key that helps the range to emerge and be recognisable on the shelves when placed alongside the standard offer or on separate shelving.