The internet has given consumers unprecedented access to free information about nutrition, food, how it’s made, and the companies making it. As a result, consumers have become more aware—and wary—of what they’re eating.
With this new-found knowledge, consumers are demanding that the products they buy live up to ever-changing standards of high quality. Much of this can be attributed to perception, something the organic market, for example, has benefited from for years. Thanks to consumers’ perceptions that organic foods are healthier than non-organic, the organic market is experiencing huge growth from the meat and dairy cases to the produce section. Similarly, consumers are less inclined to purchase food that has been genetically modified, convinced this makes food less healthy. Marketing history is filled with even more examples of trend-driven foods—think fat-free and low-carb.
Trends and perceptions come and go, but when all is said and done there are three things consumers want:
A product that’s good for them
Proof of its health benefits
The ability to easily fit it into their lives
A healthier or better-for-you product
Consumers have enough distractions as it is with all the noise on the internet and in magazines surrounding what’s healthy and what’s not. So, when it comes to what a product has to offer, why make it complicated? Our advice? Keep it simple. Focus on the important things, like how it can help your consumer can reach their health and wellness goals. It doesn’t have to be flashy but it does need to be easy to understand and actionable.
By providing easy-to-digest, fact-based information, brands can show consumers that they are focused on providing them with a healthier alternative. Though trends and consumer perceptions may change, consumers will always want the facts.
A recommendation from someone they trust
Though consumers get their information from a variety of sources, health professionals remain the consumer’s most trusted source nutrition information. According to the 2017 IFIC study, two-thirds of consumers have high trust in their conversation with a health professional as opposed to the approximately only one-quarter who have high trust in a health, food, or nutrition bloggers. Reaching consumers through health professionals is effective because it’s someone the consumer already trusts and has a relationship with.
Health professionals don’t fall prey to trends. We recently conducted a survey of health professionals who ranked “natural,” “certified organic,” and “non-GMO” as the least important of 27 attributes. Among those ranked as most important by the professionals, were health benefits like protein, calcium, and fiber content. Clearly, health professionals base their recommendations on facts, not trends.
A product that easily fits into their life
The 2017 IFIC Study also touches on the steps consumers take to be healthier. Nearly 80% of consumers indicated they have made small changes to achieve an overall healthier diet. However, a mere 14% of consumers indicated they followed a specific eating pattern or diet in the past year. Why is this? Consumers want to be healthier, but when it comes to change they like to take small, simple steps toward better health.
Consumers want to build healthy habits, but don’t want to have to completely change their routine, their shopping habits, or the things they cook to do so. Therefore, brands should show consumers their product is a stepping stone toward better health, and how they can incorporate a new product into their lives without disruption. Consumers are much more likely to take action if they don’t have to invest in wholesale changes.
Will consumer perceptions of health and nutrition change in the coming months and years? Probably. Since some change is inevitable, it is in a brand’s best interest to focus on the things that don’t change. Give the consumers a healthy product, a valued recommendation, and a product that easily fits into their life.