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South Beach Diet Now Emphasizing Lifestyle Change With New Name

Posted Jan 16 2008 5:31pm

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.

Livin' La Vida Low-Carb

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