By Doug Baker, Vice President, Private Brands, Technology, Industry Relations, Food Marketing Institute

20171205-FMI-Store Shoot-0750_edLast year, product attribute data provider Label Insight conducted the 2017 Shopper Trends Study, with a goal of learning more about people’s dietary preferences and how confident they feel about finding the information they need to make informed buying decisions. Just about half (49%) of the 1,003 primary household shoppers surveyed report they follow a health-related program that informs the way they shop for food. Label Insights identified at least 25 specific diets, with heart-healthy (22%), high-fiber (12%), gluten-free (11%) and vegetarian/vegan (9%) topping the list.

Surveyed consumers suggest that knowing what is IN their food goes hand-in-hand with shopping for diets, with nearly all (98%) respondents reporting it’s important to consider ingredients in the food products they buy, and 75% of shoppers reporting they review what is―and isn’t―in the foods they buy. Significantly, two-thirds of shoppers report they find it challenging to decipher if the product actually meets their dietary needs.

Among the top reasons for confusion are:

  1. Shoppers don’t know where to find the information they want or need;
  2. Many terms―like natural or healthy―are too vague; and
  3. Ingredient lists are hard to read.

Shoppers want understandable, honest information that serves their needs: supports their attaining health and wellness goals, offers food safety assurance, and promotes deeper trust in both the products and the retailers who sell them.  This shopper desire for transparency was a focus in the FMI U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2017. Our annual shopper behavior analysis found that shoppers increasingly look to retailers to cut through the confusion by providing clear, practical information, empowering them to make smart purchasing decisions.

Grocery shoppers are more likely to frequent a store they believe is open and honest and shares their values, including the ability to find out what is in a product (70% of shoppers), sourcing of fresh produce (69%), learning where products are made (59%), where the store gets products (58%), and ability to contact the store about products/services (55%), FMI data reveals. While the majority of consumers are content with what is currently on a product label, many shoppers are interested in going beyond the label. This is why our SmartLabel™ initiative is so critical to the shopper relationship, since it is a digital technology via the Internet or smart-enabled devices that allows the consumer flexibility to access information at their convenience at the point of purchase or in their homes. Addressing these desires is one of the greatest opportunities for retailers to demonstrate their support of shoppers. FMI recommendations for ensuring that retailers are viewed as a trusted ally and not “just a store” that stocks products, include:

  • Provide clear, practical, relevant information about what’s in products and empowering shoppers to make smart choices.
  • Addressing consumer-facing quality standards, proactive communication and accountability has a direct and positive impact on supply chain management, including less risk and greater efficiency.
  • Initiatives, such as SmartLabel, that provide greater product context foster stronger relationships with products and companies. Shoppers are empowered to support their values and feel good about the products they buy and use, as well as the companies behind them.
  • Just as transparency helps grow shopper trust and loyalty, it also supports retailers’ initiatives to expand their points of differentiation and the flexibility to meet evolving shopper needs.

Executing strategies that inform shoppers and connect them more deeply to the products and brands they are purchasing can turn retailers into valued partners, and in that scenario, both the shopper and the retailer wins.

Want more information on Transparency? Attend TransparencyIQ, register here