Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Build your Six-Second Resume if you want to be … eaten?

By: Tara Gupta  

Follow me @tbg1230

Photo source: Slashgear.com
            I read an article the other day about how the average recruiter only spends six-seconds reading your resume. Six-seconds! So you mean all the hours I’ve spent explaining how I organized the Post-Its by color in the supply closet is lost by your cursory glance at my resume and your toss to the side for the “next best thing”? So that made me think, what else are we as a society just glancing at and sizing up in a mere blink of an eye. As a graduate student at Northwestern University’s IMC program, I’m learning that I have a passion for helping consumers make educated and healthy food decisions. So what if we as CPG marketers started to apply the six-second rule to our own resumes: the nutrition and package label.
            So let’s try this out together. If a consumer were to pick up your product and give it the six-second test what would they find? Probably a bunch of health claims that they don’t believe, frilly icons that may be losing meaning, and percentages that mean little to nothing. That is according to a January 2012 Nielsen Global Survey of Food Labeling Trends that found consumers don’t believe over two-thirds of health claims made on package labels or by food marketers and 59% of consumers from around the world experience confusion by nutrition labels. Often times we’ve got health claims plastered all over our packages but it seems that it just results in more confusion for the consumer. But wait! Without our packages to describe the benefits we’ve got nothing, and on top of it, they don’t believe us? Time to get to the drawing board and reinvent our label efforts.
But it begs the challenge – will changing up icons or words on a label solve it? The study finds that “half (52%) of consumers around the world understand nutritional information panels on food packaging only in part. Four-of-ten consumers understand nutritional labels “mostly” and seven percent say they do not understand them at all.” Perhaps we need to think outside of the box (pun intended), and figure out outreach efforts that bring the nutrition labels to life and regain the consumer trust and belief again. But it’s also important to note that labels have come a long way and companies like General Mills have embraced indicator icons to help with nutritious decision making. But the survey results indicate that we need to be forward looking. According to Food Product Design Blog, “Consumer-friendly nutritional labeling can be a powerful marketing tool as consumers are hungry for easy-to-understand information.”

Build your six-second resume now
It’s pretty clear. You’re not getting “hired” with your current resume. This is a clear call-to-action for marketers to get rid of the skepticism, be clear and transparent for customers, and make it easier for consumers to make healthy food choices:
  1. Think ‘outside the box’: Combine innovations in labeling with outreach efforts to gain trust in the claims you’re making.
  2. Be honest and transparent: Know what the hot issues are for consumers and be honest about your ingredients.
  3. Content Rules: Give consumers new ways to interact with your labels and packages and make the content easy for them, please! You’ve only got six-seconds. 

Tara Gupta is a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill IMC marketing program and spent six years in interactive strategy and user experience design.  Tara is passionate about brand management in the CPG space and health & fitness. Tara will be graduating in December 2012. 
Follow Tara on Twitter @tbg1230 or on LinkedIn


  1. I applaud you on a well-written article and the thought provoking analogy, but I challenge you to dig even deeper.

    I am the consumer that gets thrilled when i come across the new 'Double. Chocolate. Extra. Fudge. Cookie.' that only has 100 CALORIES!! WHAAAAAAT?!??! I am going to buy 10 boxes and start the new DCEF Cookie Diet right away! Well, 10 boxes deep, and 100lbs over weight, I come to find out that the serving size says "1/10th of a cookie," and in fact I consumed 2000 calories for every 2 cookies I digested.

    Marketers prey upon weak minded Americans or the 7% who do not understand these labels at all. Ever notice when you go into a fast food restaurant the nutritional information is spelled out individually, but never grouped as a value meal (which I assume is the most common order)? For some reason 700 calories in a burger, 500 calories in Fries, and 300 calories in the soda seems way more appealing than stating 1500 calories in your value meal.

    They say obesity will overtake smoking as the number one killer in the next 10 years, so ultimately who should we blame as the catalyst to obesity in America? Do we blame ourselves as feeble-minded consumers or do we blame the food industry with their manipulative marketing labels? Personally, I believe that our government should carry some of that responsibility by holding the food industry to a standard of greater transparency, and allowing us consumers to be better informed.

    I remember, outside of the US, about 5 years back other governments required tobacco companies to create "SMOKING KILLS" labels on their products, but the campaign was never successful in the United States. Similarly, changing nutritional labels is an uphill battle, because it is not in the interests of corporate America.

    "They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying, lobbying, to get what they want. Well, we know what they want. They want more for themselves and less for everybody else, but I’ll tell you what they don’t want --- They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. --- That’s right. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around a kitchen table and think about how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago. They don’t want that!" ~ George Carlin

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