Who’s Driving Dietary Trends And Consumption, And How Grocers and Brands Can Respond
By Barry Clogan, SVP of business consulting at MyWebGrocer
Government-issued dietary guidelines for Americans continue to shift and evolve over time. As advancements in science are made, experts uncover new health risks when it comes to food and ingredients, or amend previous guidelines based on inaccurate assumptions.
Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration eased restrictions on coffee and continued to emphasize the dangers of sugar. As dietary recommendations like these are continually updated, many grocers may wonder how this impacts consumer shopping habits, and what it means for their businesses.
Chicken or the egg?
The federal government updates these guidelines every few years in an attempt to educate consumers to make better food choices. But while the guidelines are always backed up by research, consumers are typically one step ahead of them. In fact, many argue that consumers are the ones driving the change.
In an era where consumers take dietary advice from social media, bloggers and even Netflix documentaries like Food Inc., consumer behaviors are changing faster than government organizations can keep up with. This conjures up the image of the classic chicken and egg scenario. While we often assume that government organizations drive dietary changes, it’s typically health-minded consumers who initially bring these issues to light.
Simply put, consumers want to know ingredients, nutritional information and calorie counts not because the FDA recommends it, but because they’re truly concerned about what they’re putting into their bodies.
What this means for grocers and brands
So what does this mean for grocers and brands? Ultimately, they should be paying close attention to social media, market trends and consumer buying habits among their target audiences and develop digital content accordingly.
For brands, this can be done through relevant digital advertising, like display or pay per click ads, and helpful website content.
Through each of these channels, brands can promote deals for healthy options based on attributes that are most important to their target audiences, such as low sugar or gluten free. Relevant ads like this will show consumers that you care about their health priorities, which will ultimately drive them to your site and build long-term loyalty. Shoppers have an emotional connection with their food, and when brands understand their concerns, shoppers feel validated.
Additionally, content marketing on a grocer’s digital properties is another vehicle to build trust among consumers. While some consumers already know what products they should be purchasing to remain healthy, the rest of the population has an interest in buying healthy food, and is open to guidance when it comes to specifics. This is where grocers come in. Grocers should offer helpful content on their eCommerce sites that include lists of healthy food options, snack ideas or recipes. Having these conversations with consumers builds trust. Consumers value their health and they’ll remain loyal to the grocers that help them make the right choices.
At the end of the day, government-issued dietary guidelines are there for a reason: to help consumers make better choices when it comes to food and nutrition. Grocers and brands should certainly not ignore this advice. However, consumers are often the driving factor behind health trends, and companies should pay close attention to shopper buying behavior and market shifts and provide relevant digital marketing content at the right time, often before government guidelines are updated. In doing so, they’ll be able to foster trust with customers that ultimately drives long-term loyalty.