Survey reveals which loosely-regulated marketing claims influence consumer purchase behavior
More than half of shoppers (51%) were also swayed by "no preservatives," particularly older generations.
While "natural" is a non-regulated claim on food packaging, the word would be most likely to motivate over half (53%) of Americans to purchase a product this year, according to a survey presented by Label Insight, Chicago.
The report, conducted by Wakefield Research, Arlington, Va., surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to uncover which loosely-regulated claims would most likely influence consumer purchase behavior. While there is no standard definition, natural can be defined as the absence of artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives and color additives in minimally processed products. There are 21,838 food and beverage products in Label Insight's database containing an "all-natural" marketing claim on package.
More than half of shoppers (51%) were also swayed by "no preservatives," particularly older generations. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of Baby Boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to Generation X (46%) and Millenials (41%).
Simmering down the sweetness
Older adults are also concerned about high-fructose corn syrup in their diet. In fact, 57% of adults 65 and years and older say a product labeled "no high-fructose corn syrup" would motivate them to purchase compared to adults aged 55-64 (47%), 45-54 (44%), 35-44 (38%) and 18-34 (34%).
Sugar is still a deterrent for American shoppers of all ages. Nearly half (46%) would be more likely to buy something labeled "low sugar." Interestingly, there are only 10,352 food and beverage products making marketing claims relative to "low sugar diet" or "sugar free," as compared to more than 92,000 products that qualify for a "low sugar diet" or "sugar-free" based on the products' complete product profile, as determined by Label Insight's ingredient analysis.
Similar dynamics appear to hold true for high-fructose corn syrup. Products making a "free from high-fructose corn syrup" marketing claim are seen in 9,211 food and beverage products, while there are more than 300,000 products that qualify based on the products' complete product profile, as determined by Label Insight's ingredient analysis.
Today's shoppers increasingly want to know the conditions under which the fish, poultry and livestock they're eating were raised. For this reason, consumers would be more likely to buy meat labeled as "antibiotic-free" (34%), "free-range" (26%) and "grass-fed" (25%). "Pasture-raised" influences only 17% of shoppers. Yet free-range and pasture-raised are synonymous terms, meaning the animal has been raised outdoors.
In reviewing the Label Insight product database, 467 products make a "free-range" claim and nearly twice that amount (862) make a "pasture-raised" claim, demonstrating a disconnect between brands and consumers about which term is more likely to influence purchase.
"These results validate the mainstream demand for cleaner, greener and more forthcoming products," says Dagan Xavier, senior vice president of data and co-founder of Label Insight. "More and more, the everyday consumer is concerned about the products they are consuming on a daily basis. Yet these particular claims we surveyed are loosely regulated by the government, meaning that consumers need to advocate for transparency and accuracy in labeling. It's also worth noting that in our own analysis of these terms, far more CPG brands could legitimately be using these marketing claims on thousands of products in order to better meet the consumer demand for transparency."
This online survey of 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults, ages 18 years and up, was conducted by in January.