South African millennials and Generation Zs are willing to pay a premium for healthy products, a new study reveals, but are skeptical when it comes to labels of healthy foods from brands claiming to be healthy alternatives.
According to the survey conducted by Red Fox Insight, the research division of the retail marketing agency Red Fox Group, the 18- to 44-year-olds surveyed claimed to have fairly good knowledge of health and nutrition information, and as such reported that they did not always believe what They read it on packaging and in-store displays, with 11% reporting that they found health labels completely dishonest.
In contrast, their older counterparts (45+) claim they don’t know much about food labels and buy what they can afford, healthy or not.
Consumers demand transparency and affordable access
“Healthy foods and eco-friendly products are no longer hidden in an aisle at major drugstores, or in stand-alone department stores. As more consumers begin to seek healthier lifestyles, these products are now entering mainstream outlets, with larger retailers offering healthy products.” In light of this, we can expect to see growing health-conscious consumers demanding transparency when it comes to food labels and packaging,” says Marilou Smit, co-founder and director of quantitative research at Red Fox Insight.
According to the 2021 EIT Food reportGen Z residents expect support from brands and government in their health journey. They also want easier access to affordable, healthy alternatives.
“Just because the youth market is willing to pay more for healthy products, that doesn’t always translate into actual behavior, especially in a tougher economic climate. Yes, they seem to be more aware of what they’re putting in their bodies, but brands and retailers are remiss if they think clever marketing tactics It’s all that is needed to win market share.“We live in the age of the Internet where information is available to consumers at the click of a button,” says Smit.
The need for simple and accurate food labels
The Red Fox Insight survey also showed that 47% of respondents overall claimed to make an effort to learn about healthy products, while 40% stated that they read labels regularly with most paying more attention to the nutritional information of dairy products, juices, and smoothies. Beverages, canned products, and processed foods. Of these, 14% claimed that they often find labels on packages difficult to understand or misleading.
This highlights the need for simple, accurate food nutrition labels with direct guidance regarding the health benefits of products. Smit uses Checkers as an example of a brand that’s making strides with their Simple Truth domain. She says these products are based on the principle of being transparent about “what’s in the box” while offering a healthier option to traditional options.
“If a brand handles its labeling, packaging, and marketing in a way that feels authentic and honest to the consumer, rather than pushing vague ‘health benefits,’ it goes a long way in earning customers’ trust. The fact that consumers prioritize their health and that they will pay good money for it,” says Smit. It represents an opportunity for brands, particularly within the Generation Z market.
Below, Smit shares her tips for healthy brands to win consumer trust:
It is not one size fits all: The growing health-conscious consumer market is not homogeneous, and this is further complicated in times of financial stress when price is a priority. Define your key audience, understand their pain points, and their expectations, and then package your product accordingly.
Transparency: Do not make health claims that cannot be legitimately supported. Consumers, and more so, the emerging market, have recognized the loopholes brands can go to in labeling their product “whole grain” or “additive-free.” They have access to more information and resources now than ever before.
In-store promotion: How you display your health product plays a huge role in converting sales. With consumer confidence already an issue, finding the balance between authenticity and excess is key.
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