As Consumers Become More Health-Conscious, Sugar is Top of Mind

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Sugar consumption is top of mind for American consumers. 77% of Americans are trying to limit or eliminate sugars from their diet. Couple that with the debate about sugary drink taxes and the rise of serious health conditions such as diabetes and obesity, and the conversation about sugar is ubiquitous these days. The sweet substance receives plenty of attention, and it’s changing the way consumers think about food—and the way they grocery shop.  

A recent webinar hosted by FoodNavigator-USA spoke with industry professionals on these topics, among others, including how consumers are both reacting to and driving changes in the industry. The participants concluded that

  1. Consumers are concerned about their health
    Driven predominantly by concerns about chronic conditions such as diabetes, which continues to remain on the rise, with 9.4% of the total US population having been diagnosed.
  2. Consumers are taking action
    As reflected by the IFIC survey and recent Nielsen research Americans are planning to eat less sugar and/or seek out products that contain more natural sweeteners like stevia, monk fruit, and honey.
  3. Consumers need more information
    Though many consumers have opted to reduce their sugar intake, others are still confused about healthy alternatives. What’s the difference between added and natural sugars? Are low-calorie sweeteners safe? What do the claims on the packages really mean?

So, everyone’s talking about sugar, but what can brands do about it?

For brands that can help consumers address these sugar concerns, the opportunity has never been greater. But given the abundance of conflicting information out there and consumers’ desire for answers, simply having a brand that solves the problem is not enough.

Consumers need education. They need information and guidance. And now more than ever, they trust health professionals for that guidance. Another interesting finding from the IFIC Food & Health Survey was that consumers trust conversations with health professionals more than any other source for information on what foods to eat or avoid. Not a tip from a fitness blog or a segment on a local morning show—not even advice from a friend or family member. A conversation with a dietitian, their own personal healthcare professional, a health coach or a fitness professional—that’s where consumers want their nutrition guidance to come from.

We recently helped one brand in this “sugar reduction” space get the message out to consumers through these trusted conversations with healthcare professionals. By delivering the latest scientific research, brand information, and product samples to professionals in key markets who are specifically discussing sugar reduction with people with type 2 diabetes, we were able to spark tens of thousands of face-to-face conversations about how to limit or eliminate added sugars. And the sponsoring brand was at the heart of those conversations, earning brand recommendations and driving the path to purchase.

Healthy brands focus significant time, money and resources these days ensuring they have a high-quality product that meets consumers’ needs and preferences. But they also need to meet these same needs and preferences when it comes to educating consumers about their product—and how to live a healthier life.