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Healthy Living Drives Chilean Interest in LightDiet Foods
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Healthy Living Drives Chilean Interest in LightDiet Foods

Marcos Loredo, Nielsen Homescan Business Unit Manager, Nielsen Chile

Increasingly, people around the world are focusing on their health and wellness, whether it is exercising more or watching what they eat.  In Latin America, Chileans are no exception, and new research from The Nielsen Company in Chile found that virtually every household in the nation (99%) has purchased light/diet products as part of that effort, with an average purchase frequency of almost every two weeks and an average ticket of approximately $4.40 (U.S.).

Looking beyond these numbers, Nielsen found three different levels of engagement with light/diet products:

  • Intensive Buyers: the most frequent purchasers of light/diet products represent one-third of Chilean households but account for two-thirds of total expenditures in this category.  Typically, they buy these products more than 24 times a year.
  • Moderate Buyers: these purchasers make up 32% of Chilean households and account for a quarter of the total category expenditure.  They buy these items 12-23 times a year.
  • Occasional Buyers: these consumers buy light/diet products less than once a month.  They represent 35% of households but only account for 8% of total expenditure.

Intensive Buyers spend $192 (U.S.) per household annually on light/diet products, tripling the spending of Moderate Buyers and exceeding the spending of Occasional Buyers by 8.5 times.

Intensive Moderate Occasional
Annual light/diet expenditure $192 (U.S.) $77 (U.S.) $22 (U.S.)
Purchase Frequency Once a week Every 3 weeks Every 2 months
Socioeconomic Level Middle-High and Upper Income Middle Lower
*Preferred Products Soft drinks Margarine and sweeteners Mayonnaise
Source: The Nielsen Company

* Category index – based on buying occasions per each group vs. T. Light/Diet buyers

Shifting focus from weight loss to overall wellness

When they were first introduced, light/diet products were primarily positioned as a way to achieve or maintain slimmer figures by controlling weight.  While that continues to be a big selling point for such products, the public’s interest in better health and wellness has made the category attractive to more people.

Chilean consumers are interested in light and diet products because they are more aware about their health benefits.  What’s more, when light and diet products were first introduced, they products typically had higher prices than regular products.  Now, for the most part, prices are essentially the same, making these products more accessible to all consumers including those in lower income groups.

The segmentation of buyers based on how often they buy light/diet products highlights the opportunities for both product manufacturers and retailers in gaining market share by tailoring marketing to the groups.

It is clear that while the light/diet category is attractive to more people, there remains room for significant growth.  Some segments are underdeveloped, and manufacturers can increase sales by knowing exactly how to target their marketing to specific groups.  Meanwhile, retailers can further enhance the sections where these goods are displayed to drive more traffic.