Although we know there’s really no such thing as a generic “global consumer,” our new industry report that surveyed 8,000 consumers in 13 countries provides valuable insights into who and what influences consumers when it comes to health and nutrition — and how that can impact your food business marketing strategy.
The new report is extensive and offers valuable insights. To help food and beverage businesses with their marketing strategies, we’ve identified four of the major takeaways.
The survey revealed that consumers:
- Are listening to health and nutrition professionals the most
- Often turn to fitness experts and lifestyle bloggers for advice
- Are influenced by experts when it comes to food purchasing decisions
- Already have their own perceptions about nutritional value and sustainability
Who Consumers Listen to About Health and Nutrition Information
Consumers around the world can find health and wellness information from a variety of sources. The sources consumers use for health and wellness information include friends and neighbors, bloggers, and even casual conversations at the hair salon. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic caused shifts in how people are eating, and how they look at and purchase food.
With all of this information out there and these new pandemic-driven attitudes toward eating, who are consumers listening to the most when it comes to advice on health and wellness?
Consumers Trust Health and Nutrition Professionals Most
Although consumers may get advice from a number of places, our global survey showed that consumers trust what they hear from health and nutrition professionals the most.
According the survey, the three most accessed and credible professional groups that have the greatest influence on food and beverage purchasing decisions are:
- Trained nutrition professionals like dietitians and nutritionists
- General practitioners
- Medical specialists
Globally, trained dietitians and nutritionists are the most frequently consulted health professionals when it comes to information on nutrition and healthy eating. About 78% percent of surveyed consumers showed that trained nutrition experts are more widely accessed than doctors, including general practitioners and medical specialists.
These three groups — trained nutritional professionals, general practitioners, and medical specialists — are preferred sources in the Americas and Europe. At least seven in 10 respondents in Latin America also name these three types of healthcare professionals as top sources. In three Asian countries, survey participants ranked trained nutrition experts above primary care doctors, and trained nutrition experts were also highly ranked in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.
Fitness Specialists and Lifestyle Bloggers Have Sway
Healthcare professionals may be the most trusted, but don’t count out fitness specialists and lifestyle bloggers. It’s probably not surprising to anyone in the health and wellness communication business that over half of the surveyed global consumers turn to fitness professionals and food and lifestyle bloggers as top information sources.
“Fitness professionals” made the top five sources for nearly all of the 13 countries we surveyed, ranking as the top source in the UAE and second source in India. Asian consumers are especially likely to take advice from food and lifestyle bloggers, preferring technology-driven relationships for their information sources.
What Factors Influence Food Purchasing Behavior
All of these insights from our report are interesting, but does advice from healthcare professionals actually influence food purchases?
Yes — but not on its own.
Nutritional Value and Sustainability Matter
Perceptions about nutrition value and how food impacts the environment vary widely by country. Out of all the geographical groups surveyed, European consumers were the most concerned about environmental impact — environmental considerations truly impact their food purchases. Foods they believe to have a negative environmental impact, like those sourced from animals, are perceived differently in other parts of the world.
As the report reveals, perceptions about food can get complicated, depending on region.
For example, the study shows that many consumers in Indonesia say added vitamins, minerals, functional ingredients is a concern, whereas in France, it is not a concern. Although global consumers agree that healthcare professionals are the most credible and trusted sources of nutrition and health information, that professional’s advice may depend on a number of different things, including location.
Consumer Behaviors Should Drive Health and Wellness Communication
How you communicate with consumers about what they eat should be driven by who they trust, where they get their information, and where they’re coming from. Someone from London and someone from Beijing may say they trust a healthcare professional the most when it comes to information about health and nutrition. But, they may have completely different perspectives. They are also likely getting completely different advice.
These differences can make communicating with consumers about food seem challenging, but it’s not. To truly connect with consumers about what they eat and how they feel about it, you just have to know where they’re coming from.
That’s why our new report, The Consumer Voice: Global Insights on Food, Nutrition, Trust and Influence, is valuable to anyone creating a marketing communication plan for their food business. In addition to the information mentioned in this article, the report provides even more detailed, nuanced insights into global consumer behaviors and perspectives.
The report contains crucial information and statistics about global consumer behavior that will help you better strategize and plan communication with consumers to gain a competitive edge.
About the Author
Sue Cloran, MBA, RD(SA)
Growing up in a household where everything was made from scratch, food was adventurous, and there were always fruits and veggies growing in the garden, it’s fair to say Sue has always been fascinated by food and the food chain! Her passion lies in staying up to date with Nutrition science and being able to translate it to marketers, consumers, health care professionals, and policymakers, but doing so within regulatory frameworks.