Market analyst Datamonitor reports consumers are more sceptical than ever when it comes to health claims, with only 44 per cent of UK consumers trusting food and drink health claims. Consumers in Italy, Spain and Sweden were equally unsure of the validity of health claims.
"These findings should be of considerable concern to the industry," commented Daniel Bone, consumer markets analyst at Datamonitor. "Not only does it undermine attempts to develop relationships with consumers, it also hinders the chances of future new product development. In the food, drink and cosmetics industry many of the most exciting innovations will focus on functional food and cosmeceutical products [that] use innovative active ingredients and technologies. When consumers lack trust in everyday product propositions, it will be difficult to generate mass appeal for these products [that] boast more expansive claims."
Recommendations of friends and family were gaining in importance, especially in the UK, where 72 per cent of respondents considered the recommendations of family and friends "important" or "very important" when choosing products. Professional endorsement and a company's ethical reputation were important for growing numbers of consumers.
Nearly half of European and US consumers considered the "health advice from associations and professional bodies" to be "very trustworthy." More than half consider "health advice from doctors" to be "very trustworthy."
"Given the extent to which consumers trust experts and professional bodies it is important that manufacturers and retailers build relationships with the trusted 'expert community,'" said Bone.
Other trends include consumers seeking product origins/provenance and choosing more expensive, higher quality variants. "Marketers should seek to place emphasis on these variables to (re)gain the trust of consumers. Transparency with regard to claims and the production process will become increasingly important. Brands which consumers associate with authenticity, heritage, honesty and competence are best placed to succeed," Bone said.