Transparency and the Health-Conscious Shopper
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Recent research by FMI and Label Insights indicate that 69% of shoppers surveyed say transparency is important to them when choosing specific foods. In particular, they are looking to manufacturers to be honest, open and clear about all ingredients as well as provide in-depth information that goes beyond what’s on a label. Production practices, sourcing, animal welfare and sustainability are also factoring in highly. A full 67% of those surveyed are currently confused by product labels and the most common response for a shopper confronted with confusion is to look at other products. Clearly, the benefits of more transparency go beyond those identified by customers and can positively affect the bottom line by boosting trust and loyalty for brands and retailers.
For almost half of all shoppers who are following or shopping for someone adhering to a specific dietary plan, transparency is particularly important. From low carb, to high protein and gluten-free, it is imperative to help these individuals overcome the challenge of searching for products that meet the needs and goals for their diet or health-related program. The study also identified those platforms considered the most valuable by consumers for communicating transparency:
- On-shelf detailed product information
- Notation on products to let shoppers know whether they meet dietary criteria
- Ability to get detailed product information in-store on smartphone/device
- Icon on products identifying whether the retailer considers them healthy
- Map/brochure to help individuals shop for products that meet dietary needs/goals
- Dietary consulting services
With technology at our fingertips it is not surprising to note that customers prefer smartphone/on-line information and find it easier to use this platform to both discover new products and learn more in-depth product information.
While many supermarkets have expanded their efforts to provide product transparency, this research stresses the on-going necessity of finding ways to successfully deliver product information, especially for the health-conscious shopper. This is an opportunity for retail RDNs to strengthen partnerships with internal pharmacies or local healthcare providers to offer specific diet/product guidance, classes and/or consultations. In addition, seek out ways to use your expertise to assist internal departments, such as private brands and prepared foods, with delivering transparency in a meaningful way, both in-store and online.
Learn more about transparency and download the full report at: www.fmi.org/transparency