It seems that many consumers, particularly parents, are becoming more and more conscious about healthy food options. But with so many different food labels making different claims about ingredients or nutrition, it can be difficult for consumers to keep up. In fact, some studies like this one from BMC Public Health have found that different labeling systems haven’t had a dramatic impact on consumer health in various markets. So what do consumers think about food nutrition and labeling? And is family nutrition impacted by all the different claims made by food companies?
In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 26% of respondents said that they currently have kids under the age of 18. Of those respondents, 90% said that they care about their kids eating healthy food. And 78% said that they pay close attention to the nutritional value of the foods that their kids eat. A slightly fewer amount of parents, 72%, said they also pay close attention to the nutritional value of their own food. And 67% agreed that they are willing to pay higher prices for food that they know is healthy.
Overall, the organic food label seems to be the one that pulls the most weight with consumers. 31% of overall respondents said that they look for foods labeled as organic when they shop. 30% said they are willing to pay more for foods labeled as organic. And 41% feel that food items labeled as organic are healthier than other food options.
In addition, 30% of respondents feel that food labeled as non-GMO is healthier. 23% feel that food labeled as local is healthier. 16% feel that food labeled as gluten free is healthier. And 38% said they don’t think any of those labels have a real impact on the nutritional value of their food. Consumers’ shopping habits seem to align with the perceived healthiness of each type of label, with each label’s perceived healthiness just a few percentage points above the amount of people who seek out those labels when shopping. However, there is one exception. 25% said that they look for foods labeled as local when they shop, even though just 23% perceive those foods to be healthier.
In general, it seems that consumers feel they can get healthy options at most grocery stores. Trader Joe’s, Walmart, Kroger, Publix and Sprout were all mentioned as respondents’ favorite stores to purchase healthy food options. However, just 9% of respondents said that they always purchase healthy food options. 26% do so most of the time. 32% do so about half the time. 13% said they rarely every purchase healthy options when buying food. 3% never do. And 18% said they don’t really pay attention.
The nutritional value of food items is important to consumers, but not more important than every other factor. 15% of overall respondents said that nutritional value is their most important factor when considering food purchases. That puts it behind cost, which 49% rated as their most important factor, and taste, which 28% said was most important. However, consumers did say that nutritional value is more important than things like brand name, labels, promotions and sustainability. In addition, parents of kids under 18 were more likely to see nutritional value as an important factor in buying food, though it was still behind cost and taste. And 47% of those parents said that they purchase healthy food items all or most of the time.
Nutritional value is certainly an important factor for a lot of food shoppers. But it’s even more important for parents. Things like cost and taste are still important, so food companies shouldn’t necessarily focus on promoting healthiness over those things. But marketing healthy items specifically to parents and families can potentially be a benefit to food companies that are looking to attract customers willing to pay a bit more for nutritional value. In addition, when looking for labels or talking points for marketing healthy food items, organic tends to hold more weight with consumers than other labels. So if that label is applicable, it could be worth adding to marketing materials.
You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.
What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.
Results were collected on June 15 via AYTM’s online survey panel.