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Consumers Trust Food Retailers and Manufacturers for Health Info: Study

NEW YORK -- According to a national study, consumers are increasingly trusting food retailers and manufacturers to provide them with information on nutrition, health, and cooking. Conducted this month by knowledge services company FIND/SVP, among 1,000 consumers, the study found that 78 percent of those polled would have confidence in nutritional advice from a food retailer.

When asked which "educational tools" are their main sources of information in-store, consumers named packaging labels (64 percent), and in-store signs (51 percent) such as POS or other displays. Consumers were also asked to name their preferred retailer communications channels for receiving general information. Interestingly, they opted for tried-and-true methods, with 35 percent employing coupons/FSIs, and 22 percent choosing the Sunday newspaper, followed by e-mails (11 percent) and Web sites (4 percent).

"Today's savvy consumer is looking for quick, in-store nutritional information on the foods they buy," said FIND/SVP business analyst and study co-author Jessica Hogue. "This presents a unique opportunity for food retailers and manufacturers to deliver on this need, change consumer purchasing habits, and foster greater customer loyalty, while also building brand awareness."

Despite the rise in popularity of health food stores and mass merchandisers, 72 percent of those surveyed rated traditional supermarkets as the primary source of food and beverages for consumers at home. After supermarkets came mass merchandisers (20 percent), club stores (4 percent), and then health food stores (3 percent).

Consumers were asked what the deciding factors were in making a purchase. (More than one answer could be selected.) Not surprisingly, 93 percent said price was a determining factor. Sixty-nine percent placed the expiration date next. However, over half of the respondents said nutritional content (59 percent) and calories/fat content (53 percent) were also extremely important.

"Consumers are overloaded with information and conflicting reports on what is healthy," said FIND/SVP business analyst Julie Chmielewski, the study's other author. "One day fat is bad, the next it's carbs, and now it's trans fat. Instead of empowering consumers, this abundant amount of information is confusing them. Those few companies that have jumped on this opportunity have seen success in building a trusted bond with the consumer. More can be done to leverage this consumer need."

For more information on this study, please contact Chmielewski at (212) 645-4500 or [email protected].

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