NGA Research Key Insights
by Peter Larkin/ president and CEO, National Grocers Association
Special to The Shelby Report
Supermarket shoppers have developed their own version of “omnichannel” when it comes to where they like to get nutrition facts. They go for both online and offline sources for this health information. The three main places are product labels, the internet, and friends and family.
These insights are part of the NGA report called “The Independent Consumer,” which outlines shopper preferences based on a national consumer survey. The research piece, conducted for NGA by Nielsen, was introduced at the 2017 NGA Show.
Product labels topped the list, with 44 percent of respondents calling them the preferred source for nutrition information. That was followed by the internet (38 percent) and friends and family (25 percent). The sources don’t end there, though. Other choices included labels on the shelf, television, magazines, doctors and newspapers.
Consumers also weighed in on how their primary store can help them maintain a healthy diet. The winning answer was shelf tags with nutritional information, a response given by 41 percent of those surveyed. Women (45 percent) were more likely than men (36 percent) to want shelf tags with easily visible nutritional information. Hispanics (43 percent) and suburban couples (45 percent) also strongly supported shelf tags.
The second choice for how stores can support healthy diets was having a greater assortment of natural/organic items. Some 33 percent of respondents picked this response. Meanwhile, 43 percent of Millennials were on board with this choice.
Following closely behind as the third most popular response was having products for special diets clearly marked. This lines up with the increased retail focus on special dietary needs, including allergen-free products.
Other choices for how retailers can help shoppers with healthy diets included providing cooking instructions, having knowledgeable staff on hand, and offering recipes for specific diets.
Given the strong shopper support for shelf tags with nutritional information, it’s not surprising that consumers also strongly embraced nutritional ratings on packaging or the shelf. A total of 55 percent said it was very important, compared to 45 percent saying somewhat or not important.
The Nielsen research found that nutritional ratings are much more valued now than a year ago. The biggest proponents were urban and suburban shoppers, urban couples, college educated shoppers, and parents in general.
The survey also delved into the age-old question of whether healthy foods should be sold alongside other products in the store, or in a separate area. The findings concurred with the conventional wisdom of recent years that leans to integrating products. Some 59 percent of respondents preferred that approach vs. 41 percent favoring a separate healthy foods section.
The NGA research was sponsored by The Shelby Report. The consumer survey was conducted online in November 2016 within the U.S. It surveyed 1,902 U.S. adults 18 and older to explore their food shopping habits. For more details on the research and methodology, click here.