Subway Can You Hear Me? It’s Organic Food Talking

by Jordan Star

In case you were wondering, Subway listened. Better chicken is here. Well, that’s the name of their newest commercial at least. In this 30-second advertisement, they flash sensational clips of the new sandwich, and emphasize their savory, antibiotic-free chicken and turkey — a new addition since February. In past commercials, they have advertised premium ingredients as well.

As the title of the commercial implies, they listened, but who did they listen to? What are the items that most people care about, and is Subway currently in line with them? Did Subway listen to the “right” people?

What Does Healthy Mean?

With so much craze surrounding healthy food, and Subway’s emphasis on healthy food in the past, there is still little consensus on what it means. As a result, it becomes incredibly difficult for restaurants to pinpoint what people really want.

Subway Healthy Food Associations

The chain has been emphasizing antibiotic-free meat since February, as a possible appeal to those who care about health. However, we found that it is not (yet) a primary word people associate with healthy food.

Though Subway advertises their premium and antibiotic-free food first and foremost, that only comprises 9% of what people associate with healthy food. When people say they want healthy food, rather, it looks like what they really mean is organic and all-natural.

Subway Customers and Healthy Food Associations

However, those who do not like Subway or have no strong opinion are more likely than fans to choose antibiotic-free as their association with healthy food. It’s possible that Subway is trying to win over these two groups with their newer menu and specific advertising.

If that is not that case, and even if it is, other technicalities will have to be considered to appeal to the growing number of people on the lookout for healthy food options.

How Important Is Healthy Food?

How Important Is Healthy Food

In the next year, many people (31%) expect healthiness to be the main factor when buying lunch from a fast food or quick serve restaurant. To appeal to customers, it’s not enough for the food to be “healthy”. The food must also match consumers’ ideas of what healthy means.

29% of those who say healthiness will guide lunch expectations define healthiness as organic, while 14% suggest all-natural. It seems that in their commercials and advertisements, Subway may be over-emphasizing certain words that many people don’t resonate with.

With Subway’s revenue declining, it may not hurt to start incorporating more organic food items on their menu. This could attract the growing crowd that defines “healthy” as organic. In addition, they can keep their antibiotic-free and premium selection, which as we’ve seen, may continue to entice those who either don’t like Subway or have no strong opinion. It may even be interesting to see how transitioning their commercials to appeal from the latter to the former affects sales. My guess is that the more they increase their selection and publicity of organic food items, the more their sales may increase.

I could be wrong, but I suppose Subway may just have to test it to find out!


Originally published at CivicScience.

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