In an effort to appeal to increasingly health-conscious consumers, retailers are taking steps to make it easier to shop for a specific diet. The Keto diet, Paleo diet, and Gluten-free food trends have dramatically changed how shoppers purchase their groceries.
While some people research their products before grocery shopping, whether online or in-store, most make their purchasing decisions as they fill their carts. As a result, consumers are looking at shelf labels and nutrition information more closely. A retailer that takes advantage of this opportunity can grow their customers’ trust, because the store is seen as working with (rather than against) the consumer to better their health.
What Shoppers Are Eating
In a study by the Hartman group, 44% of U.S. respondents said they had tried a diet in the past year, and those that followed a specific eating approach broke down into specific categories: Low carb was the most popular, coming in at 12% of dieters. This includes ketogenic and similar diets. Gluten-free was the next most popular, despite warnings by doctors that only patients with Celiac’s disease or verified gluten intolerance should follow the diet. Dairy-free was tied at 11% of dieters, with advocates citing clearer skin among the top reasons to switch. Other food choices that can benefit from shelf labels are vegetarian, whole food, vegan, and paleo diets. For these smaller groups of dieters, making them feel welcome in a store with food labels can translate to greater loyalty and increased units-per-transaction.
Consumer behavior is changing to become more personalized, and as a result, promotions that were effective before are now becoming obsolete. Diet-specific savings are an easy way to cater to these various groups, particularly vegetarian and vegan shoppers. If a customer never buys meat or dairy products, what sense is there in offering coupons for cheese and ground turkey?
What Shoppers Are Buying
The Food Marketing Institute conducted a survey to find out which health attributes consumers valued, and their results reflect the trends in American diets and changing behaviors. Four attributes had significant changes from the previous year’s survey, the largest being an increasing interest in “low carb” and “no preservative” foods.
Attributes are grouped into similar categories, and “minimal processing” as a whole is a quality that 64% of respondents actively sought when shopping. Combined with the increase in private label offering from retailers, it is clear that consumers are starting to value attributes over brands.
One other change worth noting is that 23% of consumers look for products with “no high-fructose corn syrup,” a statistic that aligns with Nielsen data. American shoppers are increasingly aware of sugar in their food, and retailers that adapt to this preference have the opportunity to gain both trust and customers.
The New Grocery Shopper
Consumers are rushing towards diet-specific products as quickly as they move away from sugar and other additives, creating new opportunities for both retailers and CPGs. Though Americans may be on a diet, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re buying less food. In our next post, find out how retailers like Raley’s and Trader Joe’s are deploying new strategies to attract these shoppers.
For more information on changing consumer behavior, you can read our report on food allergies in the U.S. here. To see how retailers are changing their stores for cleaner products, you can view our interview with Frank Scorpiniti, CEO of health and wellness store Earth Fare, here.