It stands to reason that with recent advances in medical and nutritional understanding, today’s consumers are more aware of the importance of lifestyle trends that support their health and wellness than ever before. For food manufacturers and retailers, appealing to this heightened awareness is no longer relegated to niche consumer segments—or those who are perhaps older or in poor health. In fact, 79% of global respondents in Nielsen’s Global Health & Wellness Survey indicated that they actively make dietary choices to prevent health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension. Two-year sales trends support that notion and reveal that healthy food purchases are on the rise.
Considering consumers’ strong interest in getting healthier, and recent purchasing trends, “good-for-you” products are positioned for continued growth. In fact, 40% of global respondents say they plan to buy more fruit (41%) and vegetables (39%) in the next six months. In addition, one-quarter plan to buy more fish and seafood (25%), yogurt (24%) and water (23%), and one-fifth plan to buy more nuts and seeds (22%), cereal (20%), juices (20%) and meat and poultry (18%).
“Health is going mainstream,” said Susan Dunn, executive vice president, Global Professional Services, Nielsen. “As consumers around the globe search for better, healthier and smarter solutions that fit their lifestyle and specific needs, the motivation for manufacturers and retailers to foster strategies for a healthier world is powerful. But much more needs to be done.”
How can manufacturers and retailers take advantage of this health and wellness trend? Strategies for success include:
Improved Health/Wellness Information
Packaging labels are a key source of information for consumers. Three-quarters of global respondents say they read packaging labels carefully. Manufacturers and retailers need to provide easy-to-understand and clear nutritional information to help respondents take control of their health.
Purchasing decisions are also becoming increasingly complicated. Consumers must consider the nutritional content of foods, as well as the environmental and social impact, production source and health benefits—it’s a lot to sort through. Manufacturers and retailers need to make it easy for consumers to cut through the clutter and make informed decisions by helping them understand the benefits of particular ingredients and foods using out-of-store communications, in-store signage/displays and package claims.
Greater Transparency about Health/Wellness Claims
Less than two-thirds (63%) of global respondents trust health claims on food packages, and the percentage is lower in Europe (51%) and North America (56%). Consumers view food with a skeptical eye, and the industry must be more transparent about the contents and source of foods, providing stronger scientific support for health claims to build consumer trust. Gaining that trust among the 76% of global respondents that say they will pay more for foods that promote health benefits is a good place to start.
The Growth of Alternative Retailers
Sixty-four percent of respondents say they shop for foods at specialty retailers that sell a wide variety of health foods. The percentage is even higher in health-conscious developing markets—73% in Asia-Pacific, 79% in Africa/Middle East and 71% in Latin America say they shop at specialty stores. Younger consumers are also more likely to shop at specialty retailers: 69% of Generation Z and 70% of Millennial respondents report doing so, compared with 51% of Baby Boomer and 43% of Silent Generation respondents. As consumers turn to new outlets, manufacturers must ensure their products are available to consumers no matter where they shop. Likewise, retailers should provide guidance for consumers aspiring to healthier lives, offering healthy eating ideas and meal-planning assistance and showcasing their healthy offerings, particularly fresh products, in store with signage, displays and demonstrations.
Respecting and Embracing Regional Differences
Consumers around the world approach health differently, and these attitudes and behaviors require different strategies and approaches. There is no room for a “one-size-fits-all” mentality. Manufacturers and retailers need to provide solutions that are compatible with the preferences and requirements of each region.
The report also discusses:
- Global attitudes about the dietary changes consumers are making to lose weight.
- A generational perspective on desired health attributes in food.
- A review of purchasing trends from 2012 to 2014 in health food categories.
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Health & Wellness Survey.
About the Nielsen Global Survey
The findings in this survey are based on respondents with online access across 60 countries. While an online survey methodology allows for tremendous scale and global reach, it provides a perspective only on the habits of existing Internet users, not total populations. In developing markets where online penetration has not reached majority potential, audiences may be younger and more affluent than the general population of that country. Additionally, survey responses are based on claimed behavior, rather than actual metered data.