Survey: consumers will switch to understandable labels

4 Jul 2017

When examining food labels today, consumers are still confused about the ingredients in their food products. This confusion leads shoppers to not only consider switching brands but to pay more for brands whose ingredients they understand.

Survey: consumers will switch to understandable labels

When examining food labels today, consumers are still confused about the ingredients in their food products. This confusion leads shoppers to not only consider switching brands but to pay more for brands whose ingredients they understand.

That’s the conclusion of a study released by Label Insight. It surveyed more than 1,000 consumers on feelings of confusion with food product ingredients and labelling, the behavioural impact of this confusion on purchasing behaviour and how technology solutions might alleviate concerns.

Consumers are confused by ingredients and claims on food labels. Label Insight's 2017 Ingredient Confusion study found that:

+ 83% of consumers feel confused at least some of the time about ingredients listed on food package labels.

+ 45% of those surveyed are concerned when they eat food products that contain ingredients that they don't understand.

+ While package claims of "natural," "healthy" and "clean" should help inform consumers, only about one-third of Americans completely understand what those claims mean.

Ingredient confusion weakens brand trust and impacts product sales.

The study revealed that when consumers don't understand what is in their food, the outcomes can be damaging for manufacturers.

+ 60% of those surveyed say they trust the brand less when they see ingredients they don't recognize or find confusing.

+ 35% do not buy a product when they find ingredients on the label that are confusing.

+ Nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers would be willing to switch to another food product if they understand the ingredients in that product.

+ More than half (54%) would pay more for a food product that contains ingredients they understand or recognize.

Shoppers clamour for technology solutions to better understand ingredients.

As in nearly every other aspect of their lives, consumers turn to technology to provide answers, researching product information online.

+ 46% of consumers turn to mobile devices in store for information about confusing ingredients, and when looking at millennials in particular, that number jumps to 56%.

+ A staggering 95% of consumers are interested in a technology that allows them to easily get detailed product ingredient information using their mobile phone while they are in the store – 65% are very interested.

"Consumer demand for product transparency is on the rise, and when brands and retailers fail to deliver, it erodes brand trust," said Kira Karapetian, Vice President of Marketing for Label Insight. "This study reveals that consumers are not only confused by the ingredients in their food, but willing to adjust their buying habits in order to better understand what they are eating and drinking. Not surprisingly, American consumers are turning to technology to solve this issue. We use our smartphones to purchase groceries, to find the best car mechanic, and to track our fitness levels and sleep patterns – it's natural that we would use technology to find more comprehensive product information such as ingredient definitions and their purpose in the product. The industry is responding and giving consumers the tools they need to improve their label literacy through transparency initiatives like SmartLabel."

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