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Uncovering the 4 Critical Needs of Canadian Shoppers Part 3: Health
Health is a major concern for many Canadian consumers. 7 in 10 shoppers surveyed in the 2014 BrandSpark Canadian Shopper Study admitted that they were concerned about their personal health, while nearly 8 in 10 were concerned about the health of their families. Despite such high levels of concern, there are significant gaps between what Canadians think they should do to improve their health and what they actually do.
1 in 2 consumers believe that having a healthy diet is the single most important thing they can do to improve their health, and almost 90% believe that there is a lot they can do with food and nutrition to prevent illness. However, only 45% of Canadians know their daily recommended intake of nutrients and fewer actually follow it. One of the potential explanations of this disparity between knowledge and follow-through is the notion in the minds of many consumers that they have to sacrifice taste for greater health benefits.
A good example of this perception exists within the restaurant industry. 6 in 10 consumers say that they want to see more nutritional information on restaurant menus, yet we often hear from restaurants that when they add healthy items on their menu these items frequently end up being low sellers. During a recent trip to Mexico, where we also conduct our Shopper Study and Best New Product Awards program, I had the opportunity to experience a popular local family-style restaurant called Vips (pronounced as “bips”). They have a specialty lemon dessert that comes in two versions: light and regular. Both look identical. I ordered and tried both, and they tasted almost identical as well. I asked the waitress which version was the most popular, and she said without any doubt that the regular one was. Consumers knew that the healthier version was available, but still picked the less healthy one because of the perceived tradeoff between taste and health. This tradeoff, of course, is not exclusive to Mexico.
There are other reasons, beyond trade-offs on taste, that help explain the disparity between consumers’ knowledge of healthy practices and their willingness or ability to follow through and change their eating habits. Price is the most important of those reasons. 7 in 10 Canadian shoppers think that healthier food options are also more expensive, and this perception has an impact on their purchasing behaviour. The organic products industry is a great example: 7 in 10 shoppers say that they http://www.ecannus.com/eic/pd/204/3610.html perkins loan interest would purchase organic products if those products weren’t so expensive, and only 26% are willing to pay more for organics. Shoppers see healthier options before them, but many are deterred from purchasing healthier products by the perception that “healthy” means “more expensive”.
The last reason for the gap between Canadian shoppers’ knowledge and action in the area of health is convenience: 7 in 10 shoppers agree that convenient food is usually not the healthiest. At the same time, 45% say that when time is tight, convenience becomes more important than eating healthy. This implies that even shoppers who do not believe healthy foods taste worse than regular ones and who are not deterred by the perceived price premium, may forgo a healthy option for the sake of convenience.
Marketers of healthy products who are looking to expand their categories need to be conscious of issues created by consumer perceptions of taste, price, and convenience. It is important not only to stress the benefits of healthy product options, but also to offer those products at competitive prices and to make sure that taste does not suffer too much. Products that find a balance between taste, health, and convenience (drinkable Greek yogurt is a good example) will continue to resonate with consumers.
Convenience is an issue that in some shape ties into all other critical shopper needs: value, innovation, and health. In our next installment, we will look at this issue more closely and examine what convenient features Canadian shoppers are looking for to make their lives easier.