You are here
To drive health-in store, retailers and manufacturers must understand what their customers are seeking in the area of health.
“We know from our recent research with Deloitte and Grocery Manufacturers Association that consumers are actively shaping and expanding the number of drivers they incorporate into their food-purchasing decisions, often rapidly and in unpredictable ways,” says Sue Borra, RD, SVP, communications and strategic planning, at Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI). “Recognizing that price, taste and convenience will remain traditional drives of value, health and wellness, defined very broadly, has evolved to become the most significant purchase motivations among shoppers.”
What’s more, shoppers’ very concept of health has changed in recent years. “Today, consumers’ definition of health goes beyond the facts about the nutrition content or portion size of the food,” asserts Kristin Reimers, director, nutrition at Omaha, Neb.-based ConAgra Foods. “While these aspects are still fundamental to health, now, health also encompasses their values and emotions around how the food was grown, the ingredients, and where and how the food was prepared.”
When asked about upcoming trends, Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, founder of and principal consultant at Nutrition Connections LLC and a member of Nutrition Advisory Board of the Washington, D.C.-based National Turkey Federation, similarly notes, “Consumers will equate ‘healthy’ with nutritious, delicious, safe foods produced with integrity and sustainability in mind.”
According to Jaime Schwartz Cohen, MS, RD, director of nutrition at New York-based public relations and marketing agency Ketchum, whose company has tracked similar shifts in consumers’ perception of health, shoppers are increasingly looking to the grocery industry for guidance on wellness. Citing Ketchum’s “Food 2020” research, she notes: “Food eVangelists – a segment of empowered and influential shoppers who are growing in numbers and appear to be on the precipice of becoming the new mainstream food consumer – see the retailer as a neutral agent in the food business, with no vested interest in promoting one brand over another and a trusted ally in helping sort, navigate and make choices. Registered dietitians and chefs working at retail will continue to have an elevated role to build this trust.”
Along with trust, another major factor is price. “Many shoppers find that eating more healthfully is more expensive, and it’s up to retailers and manufacturers to work together to make these better choices more affordable for the average shopper,” points out Jeff Weidauer, VP, marketing and strategy at Little Rock, Ark.-based in-store marketing services company Vestcom International Inc. Trish James, VP at Orlando, Fla.-based Produce for Kids, similarly advises suppliers to “[o]ffer competitive pricing.”
It would seem, then, that even for health-seeking consumers, health isn’t everything. “The health message needs to be balanced with convenience, taste and affordability,” warns Cohen. “Health is the aspiration, but if it’s not realistic to the shopper’s lifestyle, the message will be lost.”