Marketers partner with a variety of social media influencers to promote brands and increase exposure. However, a “hidden” influencer is on the rise: healthy living apps.

These apps aim to help consumers practice healthier and more eco-friendly shopping habits. Some evaluate the ingredients in food and cosmetic products, with demand driven in part by news articles and documentaries about the chemicals in these products.

Consider the Fooducate and Think Dirty apps, which promote healthy foods and toxin-free cosmetics, respectively, with the help of registered dietitians, labeling experts and scientists. To use these apps, users simply take a picture of a product’s barcode. The app shares a “grade” identifying the product as “good” or “bad” – a real-time tool that can influence whether a product goes in the cart or back on the shelf.

Each type of influencer offers the consumer different experiences and benefits. Social media influencers create more personal, relatable content that’s often focused on the experience of using products. However, many consumers are aware that these influencers partner with brands, which may shape their messaging. Apps like Fooducate and Think Dirty are more utilitarian and offer a limited range of content, but they are transparent, using algorithms to create more objective information.

Healthy living apps put informed decision-making in the palms of consumers’ hands. So, what can your company, brand or product do to get a passing grade? The only factor that the apps take into account is a product’s ingredient list; the apps will give good grades to products with the fewest ingredients deemed harmful by the app creators. Changing ingredients is not an option in many cases, so companies need to think more broadly. It is always useful to review, revamp and/or accelerate other PR and marketing activities that build trust and strengthen relationships with consumers. Here are three factors to consider:

  1. Transparency – Keep in mind that consumers today are more informed about product ingredients than ever before. Always be clear and accurate in your messaging. If your products contain healthy ingredients that may be unfamiliar (such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, which helps with digestion), provide consumer-friendly explanations digitally and on printed packaging and materials.
  2. Personality – Consumers build multi-faceted relationships with brands, and product ingredients are only part of the equation. Continuing to promote the aspects of your brand experiences that appeal most to customers is still vital, online and in store.
  3. Corporate consciousness – Many consumers value what companies do to make a positive impact on individuals, communities and the planet at large. Sharing your philosophies, principles and practices can add to customers’ positive perception of your brands.

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