Attest, a consumer research platform for the world’s biggest and fastest-growing brands, releases new research to highlight how food and beverage brands can take a bite out of the lucrative F&B wellness segment. The poll of 1,000 nationally representative UK consumers shows that shoppers have a variety of concerns when shopping for F&B products containing health-boosting ingredients, chiefly price and labelling.
• However, pricing is the most pivotal issue of all, with the research finding 54% of people worried that F&B products containing special ingredients are overpriced.
• Encouragingly though, more than half (55%) of consumers are actively looking out for F&B products to support their overall health when they shop.
• So much so, that people are also prepared to pay a premium for wellness ingredients; 53% will pay a ‘little’ bit more than for a standard product, while 14% will pay a ‘moderate’ amount more and 3% a ‘lot’.
British consumers are also confused (and worried) about labelling
There also appears to be widespread confusion about what is really healthy, or not, when it comes to F&B products. As part of this research, Attest showed six varieties of cereal bars to 1,000 UK consumers and asked them to identify which was the healthiest choice. It uncovered:
• Using the Nutri-Score system, a nutrition label that converts the nutritional value of products into a simple ranking system of letters (A to E), just 16% of Brits were able to identify the healthiest choice when shown a selection of cereal bars.
• The vast majority – 78% – chose cereal bars with the second worst level of nutritional value, while 6% selected the worst of the bunch, which had a Nutri-Score of E.
• Of these 78% of respondents, they cited packaging language as the reason for their wrong choice, with these bars containing health- related messages including “natural”, “protein packed” and “plant based”.
As highlighted by this labelling confusion, the research also found that nearly half (48%) worry that wellness products aren’t actually healthy when shopping for them. Four in ten people say they’re concerned that the health benefits of the ingredients haven’t been scientifically-proven, while 36% worry that the amount of active ingredients included isn’t actually enough to make a difference.
How F&B wellness brands can build trust with shoppers
Despite these consumer concerns, the research points to a range of solutions for how F&B brands can overcome these misgivings:
• Packaging: Consumers cite packaging as the top area brands should focus on if they want to increase purchase intent. In fact, putting clear nutrition labelling on- pack is the number one thing that brands can do to increase trust in their products (at 47%) across all age groups.
• Coupons: The data finds that coupons are also a valuable tool for persuading shoppers to try a wellness product for the first time. For 20% of consumers, being able to try a product at a discounted price is one of the top three things that would increase their trust. Of all the demographics, Gen Z (aged 18-25), in particular, can be convinced with coupons.
• Sampling the Goods: A big consumer concern regarding wellness F&B products is taste – over a third (34%) of respondents worry the flavour will not be to their liking. Giving shoppers a chance to try before they buy is something that would entice a quarter (25%) of consumers.
• Marketing: Endorsements and certifications are also extremely valuable for the successful marketing of wellness foods. Nearly 4 in 10 people (39%) would be convinced by an endorsement from a credible health professional or organisation. Meanwhile, 30% of consumers say seeing certification logos on-pack would significantly boost their trust.
Consumers trends for F&B brands to tap into for 2022
The research also details some clear, developing consumer trends this year, including:
• According to consumers, the wellness ingredients with the most pulling power in F&B products are protein (58%), Omega-3 (48.5%) and pre/probiotics (32%).
• Protein is the ingredient the public most associates with better overall well being and energy (47%), Omega-3 with brain health (41%) and pre/probiotics with digestive health (53%).
• The F&B products consumers most want to be fortified with wellness ingredients are cereals & cereal bars (39%), soups and smoothies (31%) dairy products 29% and bread & bakery (26%).
• ‘Better immune health’ is the health benefit respondents would most like to get from F&B products (44%), followed by better digestive health in third place (39%).
• Likely due to the pandemic, a quarter of Brits are actively looking for products to support immunity when they go shopping. The ingredients most associated with immune health are pro and prebiotics (33%), omega-3 and ginger (both 30%).
• In tandem with this, it looks like the pandemic has also reinforced people’s belief in the benefits of bottled vitamins, with just under half (45%) saying they take dietary supplements. The most popular supplement in the UK is vitamin D, followed by vitamin C, feeding into the larger immune health trend. Multivitamins are also popular, coming in as the third-most consumed type of supplement.
Jeremy King, CEO and Founder of Attest, said of the research: “The Attest research shows that identifying real, healthy food and beverage products appears to be a significant difficulty for consumers when shopping. As revealed by the data, packaging and product messages aren’t helping shoppers nearly enough to make informed decisions. This is a clear call to action for the food and beverage industry to simplify how it sells its products. If the industry properly addresses this issue, it can unlock genuine consumer demand, especially as more than half of UK consumers are actively looking to buy products that support their overall health.”