The Consumer Shift – Brand Focus to Attribute Focus

The brand is a business’s most valuable asset, and it does differentiate you from the competition. Yet, over time its role in food and beverage purchase has evolved. In the 1970s, the brand served as the ultimate signal of quality. Fast forward to the 1980s and 1990s, with an increased focus on individuality, connections were drawn between brands and identities. From the 2000s to now, a greater focus has been placed on product benefits and claims. Today, consumers have become attribute-focused when making a purchase. Those products that included the attributes in the first 40 characters of their title received 2x more clicks through online searches.[i]

What Are Product Attributes?

“Product attributes are nothing but the components of a product that define its features. Product attributes can be concrete, objective, and observed. However, the attributes of a product never change, but it depends highly on the campaign, customer, or brand”.[ii]

Why Are Product Attributes So Important?

Consumers are presented with hundreds of options when grocery shopping. The average consumer has an average attention span of 8 seconds.[iii] By providing a full profile of the attributes of the product, you can help inform your customers of whether the product is what they seek.

Food and Beverage Product Attribute Drivers

Taste and price are the top 2 attribute drivers in the food and beverage sector. The brand comes in at number 5 as outlined in Chart 1.

Chart 1

Product Selection Attributes

Product Selection Attributes

The Reliance on the Brand

The reliance on the brand as a selection driver in their purchases is lowest among younger, educated, and higher income consumers. Say Brand is a “very important “attribute selection driver, only 30% of Gen Z and 28% of Millennials said yes as compared to 34% of Gen X and Baby Boomers. Taking income into account, only 30% said yes if earning over $100.000. as compared to 34% for those consumers making under $35,000.

Accessing New Brands

The shift from brand to attributes is also apparent when consumers access new brands as outlined in Chart 2.[iv]

Chart 2

What Communicates the Essence of a New Brand

What Communicates the Essence of a New Brand

Final Thoughts

The brand name and image still play an integral in the business’s success. Food brands can prove their relevance and earn the consumer’s trust with label attributes that communicate clear benefits. I leave you with this quotation by the Father of Advertising – David Ogilvy


“Brand is the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, its packaging and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it is advertised”.[v]

[i] Activating Attributes: How Brands Can ReClaim Millions in Online Sales,, June 2020

[ii] What are Product Attributes that are Important to Consumers,, February 2020

[iii] Does Your Brand Pass the 8-Second Test,, Rich Taylor

[iv] Does Your Brand Convey Quality, FoodChain ID Webinar on Demand, The Hartman Group, 2022

[v] How to Create Product Attributes that Sell,, March 2022