Remaining a relevant food brand is more challenging than ever, and consumer behavior is a large piece of the puzzle.
A Deloitte Consumer Trends in the Food Industry report surmises it well, "What consumers consider 'good for you’ has shifted; when considering ‘Health and Wellness’ they now take a more holistic perspective by weighing more product attributes, qualitative product claims, and longer-term considerations."
IS "CLEAN LABEL" BECOMING SYNONYMOUS WITH "HEALTHY"?
- An increased percentage of consumers describe themselves as “health conscious” or “ingredient sensitive”;
- Peak in consumers paying very close attention to the nutritional content of the foods they buy;
- Preference for products with fewer ingredients, and try to avoid preservatives and other chemicals in the food they buy.
“Consumers now look at many data points — such as qualitative product claims and quantitative nutritional content information related to Health & Wellness.” -FMI 2015 US Grocery Shopper Trends report
ARE CONSUMERS MORE LIKELY TO PURCHASE A PRODUCT WITH NUMEROUS CLAIMS?
Current research shows that point-of purchase (POP) success rate is positively impacted by the number of claims. Point-of-purchase is when a customer is already in the store and ready to make a purchase. This is an extension of the consumer demand for upfront transparency.
According to another Deloitte Consumer Study of Behavior in the Food Industry:
- Consumers consider only 30% of the brands they buy to be “must have” brands;
- 3 out of 4 packaged goods categories have seen a decline in “must have” brand loyalty since 2011;
- Many consumers are basing purchase decisions on attributes beyond product taste, performance, and price;
- On average, consumer seek 5.4 front-of-package claims;
- Almost half of U.S. consumers strongly prefer brands and products that align to drivers such as health and wellness, safety, corporate citizenship, and transparency.
HOW DO COMPANIES GET CLEAN LABEL CERTIFIED?
Currently, there is only one agency doing a “clean label” certification process that grants access to a “clean label” seal — used on packaging, marketing materials, and website. The agency behind this is a bootstrapped startup company called, GoCleanLabel™.
According to Brian Vogt, the creator of GoCleanLabel™, “GoCleanLabel was founded in response to the frustrating lack of clarity surrounding the clean label movement. We wanted to help guide consumers and food professionals with what it means to be ‘clean label’ — with a simple ingredient search bar and an expert driven blog that discusses important clean label topics and has interviews with clean label food & beverage gurus such as, ex-Kashi head of R&D, Jeff Grogg, and top culinary innovator, Charlie Baggs.”
CLEAN LABEL, WILL THERE EVER BE A DEFINITION?
Clearly defining “clean label” will be a struggle, with no near end in sight. Nevertheless, “clean label” is being called one of the top industry-drivers of this century. Cues to “clean label” are dominating store shelves and food service offerings. Beth Bloom, Food & Drink analyst at Mintel, explains that the power of food labels should not be overlooked: "While grocery shoppers continue to seek tasty, nutritious food, the impact of food labels appears to be waning.”
Bloom continues to say, “Differentiation exists across generation groups in terms of the type of information sought from labels. Inspiring purchase can come from boosting ingredient transparency, enhancing functional packaging elements that preserve freshness, and engaging consumers with brands beyond the store."
In order for the industry to deliver the level of transparency consumers are demanding, there must be collaboration and communication. Food manufacturers must keep a close eye on their supply chain and make sure they partner with ingredient suppliers that have deep knowledge and intimate traceability, because “clean label” isn’t going anywhere.