Being health conscious is trendier than ever and brands are shaping up for demand.
By Elena Dimama.
January has traditionally been the month when New Year’s resolutions become reality and health takes a focal point in consumers’ minds, after an indulgent Christmas period.
According to a recent DSM report, consumers are more health-aware than ever before and are on the lookout for products that support their wellbeing, along with alternatives to favourites, such as fizzy drinks.
Stocking up on zero- or low-sugar variants is paramount to any retailer wishing to attract the health-conscious shopper.
“There’s no doubt that consumers have become even more health aware since the start of the pandemic and unsurprisingly this has translated into being more heath conscious with their food choices,” Andrew Bradshaw, UK Sales Director at Dole Sunshine Company, explains.
A recent survey by StreetBees of nearly 50,000 consumers showed that the number one attribute sought when deciding on what to eat and drink was no-added or low-sugar content.
“This should be front of mind for retailers when considering their healthier snacking offer and confirms Dole’s fruit in juice and fruit in jelly cups as very credible options, as all the variants have zero-added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or flavourings, are less than 100 calories per serving and come in convenient and recyclable packs which can be eaten at home or on the go,” Bradshaw adds.
Similarly, Red Bull has found that consumers have increasingly been picking up sugar-free and zero formats. Sugar-free variants have been growing penetration by 48.8%, according to Kantar data, and, in independent markets, low- or no-sugar lines have seen faster growth than full sugar, with 21% growth for the former, compared to 16.9% for full-sugar ranges, according to Nielsen Scantrack.
“Expanding Red Bull’s offering to include a sugar-free price-marked multipack not only bolsters the brand’s current multipack portfolio but also presents an important opportunity to futureproof the range,” Red Bull says. “Thirty-five-year-old affluent females are the most common Red Bull Sugarfree shopper profile, signalling demand for low-sugar alternatives amongst female shoppers looking for a functional boost during their day,” the company notes.
Just because something is healthy, it no longer means it probably doesn’t taste that great. Brands have put a great deal of effort to make sure that their healthy variants deliver the same flavour quality as their full-sugar counterparts.
“At Dole, we’ve recently announced two new additions to our Fruit in Juice range. The delicious new flavours of Mango in juice and Pear in juice have arrived to complement the existing range of Tropical Fruit, Peach, Pineapple, Mandarins and Mixed Fruits in juice cups,” Bradshaw says.
Looking at the cereal category, Weetabix has recently launched a limited-edition Weetos Orange Chocolatey Hoops, which has ranked top in product concept testing conducted by Weetabix in 2021.
“Backed by in-store promotions and online marketing campaigns, Weetos Orange Chocolatey Hoops is HFSS compliant with no red traffic lights, while it also boasts strong nutritional scores, as it is high in fibre,” Darryl Burgess, Head of Sales for Weetabix, explains. “Weetos is already a family favourite, and the new flavour represents a brilliant opportunity to encourage sales of Weetos all year round and drive additional penetration for the brand.”
Highland Spring is also offering different flavours for its sparkling cans variety. “Highland Spring’s sparkling cans are perfect for those looking for a healthier fizzy drink option to enjoy, whilst keeping hydrated,” Jennie Inch, Brand Manager, Highland Spring Group, says. “At under 35 calories per can, and available in three delicious flavours, they are great for those looking to stick to healthier products whilst satisfying a fizzy drink craving.”
Cost of living
It is no secret that this winter will be challenging for a potentially bigger proportion of retail’s customer base. Caught between an energy crisis and rising inflation, it is only natural that shoppers will start looking for even more value.
“Consumers are changing their shopping behaviours and becoming increasingly conscious of product value for money, incorporating quality, waste, convenience and choice, which is where ambient products can increasingly have a role to play,” Bradshaw says. “Shoppers understand that ambient goods not only offer good value and have longer shelf lives but in the case of our Dole packaged fruit range, can also be one of your five-a-day and a healthy part of their overall diet.
“A recent survey on attitudes to healthy eating revealed that 32% of people admit that money concerns cause them to eat less healthily. This really highlights the importance of supermarkets and brands who are committed to supporting healthier choices for their customers, and specifically helping people to eat healthily on a budget,” he notes.
Highland Spring is also expecting a change in shopping attitudes. “The cost-of-living crisis is understandably on everyone’s minds and is a real worry for both consumers and retailers,” Inch explains.
“With it expected to last a while, consumer purchasing habits will undoubtedly change. Whether consumers aim to shop less, or make tactful purchases, it will impact the retail sector. For example, it might be that bulk buying or opting for larger formats is a more economical way of purchasing for some families, and others might switch to cheaper alternatives of their favourite products.”
Buy sustainably, buy locally
Supporting the local economy has time and again been touted as an environmentally conscious step to take, and it is one Inch expects to be a key trend in the next year.
“Research also shows that consumers are expected to continue to support local in 2023, which helps them in feeling as though they are giving back to their communities. With this in mind, ‘localism’ is set to be a key trend this year, which could present a real opportunity for local retailers. Store owners should ensure their offering is enticing for their customer base to encourage visits and sales,” she says.
What’s more, environmental concerns are also expected to dominate the healthy shopper’s behaviour in 2023 too. “Consumers have become increasingly aware of their own environmental footprints and as a result, there is a growing demand for sustainable solutions, and we expect this to grow in importance in the next year,” Inch adds.
Eat your greens
According to a recent survey by IGD, more than a third of shoppers place an importance on eating more fruit and vegetables to lead a healthier lifestyle, with a further one in five looking to eat more fresh produce, in particular.
When it comes to convenience store shoppers, research by Lumina highlights brand and health are the most important factors when conducting a planned top-up mission (63% of shoppers looked for brands/44% looked for healthier products).
“The size of the prize for convenience retailers shouldn’t be underestimated,” Martin Purdy Commercial and Marketing Director at Florette UK, says. “The leafy prepared salads market in convenience is already worth over £77 million and shoppers are visiting more frequently to purchase leafy salads (+13.5%) showing a growing appetite for the category in the channel.”