With Thanksgiving just a few days behind us and Christmas straight ahead, this time of year is certainly not one that’s characterized by healthy eating. Yet while many Americans associate year-end feasts with turkey and stuffing, Christmas and New Year’s kick off prime time for seafood sales.
Among the various options available during the holidays, seafood has more of a health halo than many traditional offerings, given the presence of healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low fat content. While sales crest around the holidays, they do tend to retract a couple weeks into the New Year until the start of Lent (mid-April).
Given the health benefits of seafood, the period around New Year’s—when consumers are closely minding their resolutions—is when retailers can reel in big seafood sales. It’s also worth noting that retailers should be capitalizing on the protein content in seafood, which is something many consumers are actively seeking out, but not always aware of. For example, in a recent study, we found that consumers recognized salmon as a good source of protein, but didn’t know that shrimp is as well.
But “healthy” to consumers means a lot more than just protein content. Claims about how food is processed, raised/caught and other sustainability efforts have grown increasingly important for many consumers. So what is important to seafood consumers? First let’s start with awareness. According to findings from a recent Nielsen survey, which first assessed consumer awareness across a range of product claims, farm versus wild caught topped the list, as a majority of consumers are aware of these trends. From an age demographic perspective, overall, Boomers are the most aware of the different seafood claims we tested.
While it’s important for retailers to know what consumers are aware of, it’s even more important to know what inspires a purchase. Dolphin safe has the highest positive response, meaning consumers are more likely to purchase products because of this claim, but only 23% of consumers are aware of this claim. Conversely, “farm raised” had the highest awareness rate, and prompted nearly the highest negative response, or the claim makes them less likely to purchase, with 27% of respondents saying they would be less likely to purchase seafood with that claim.
Unlike “farm raised,” consumers are very aware of the “wild caught” claim, and this claim is more likely to spark a purchase, as 56% of consumers stated that it makes them more likely to make a purchase. But which consumers will this message resonate with the most? For “wild caught,” the claim resonates most with households making $70,000 and over per year, older and Asian and Hispanic households.
So can you take advantage of the Christmas indulgence and parlay that into New Year resolutions success in seafood? Raising awareness of your seafood-sourcing practices that align with the positive response with your consumers is a great first step to boosting sales in the lull before Lent.