Monitor: Marketing healthy diets goes beyond science

Consumers know what to eat. They simply lack the motivation to make healthier choices.

Rick Polito, Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

June 17, 2021

2 Min Read

Natural Products Industry Health Monitor, June 17, 2021

As the world emerges, haltingly and unevenly, from lockdown, new challenges emerge. In this feature, New Hope Network provides an ongoing update on those challenges and the opportunities they hold. Look for the Industry Health Monitor every other Friday to learn the major news that is affecting the natural products market immediately and the less obvious insights that could dictate where the market may struggle or thrive in the months to come.


Consider this: Motivation trumps science when it comes to food choices

For the natural products industry, marketing is a science guided by intuition. At the other end of the commerce equation, in the customers’ shopping carts, intuition outpaced science many thousands of aisles ago. 

We see this in the very basic questions consumer present themselves with when they set about the daily challenge of eating healthy. By no measure does every consumer take up that challenge, but it’s important to remember that for those who do, it’s the most deeply rooted and personal components of the task that vex them most. 

It’s not science. It’s personal. 

This becomes clear in research conducted by New Hope Network NEXT Data and Insights in partnership with Suzy that will be presented next week in the Redefining Consumer Health Eating Habits webinar on June 23. 

When asked what they saw as challenges to eating healthy, the greatest share chose “willpower.” Anybody who has stood in front of an open refrigerator at 11 p.m. can identify with that. The second most often chosen answer was “cost,” followed closely by “motivation.” 

Way down at the bottom was “knowledge,” dropping right behind “cooking skills.” 

Eating healthy is about avoiding temptation, it seems, more than about acquiring knowledge, skills or expertise. Those ideals aren’t even secondary; they’re further down the line than that. Even time and accessibility, which would encompass most of what we think of as “convenience,” are near the bottom of what consumers in the survey saw as challenges. 

This should hardly be news—remember that open refrigerator—but it bears repeating when we talk about marketing natural products. 

Science is good. Expertise is appreciated. Leading with either is a mistake. 

In the end, eating healthy needs to be an experience on its own, one that is good enough, and cheap enough, to conquer the three pillars of challenge at the top of the chart. 

Marketing may be a science guided by intuition. But eating is an experience guided by the experience itself. 


New Hope Network's NEXT Data and Insights survey of n-1,000 tracked monthly since March 2020 using a convenience sample directionally representative of U.S. consumers ages 18-65 weighted for age, region and gender. The 2017 survey data are based on responses of 1,000 people nationally representative of the U.S. adult population. Index tracks “top two box” responses.

About the Author(s)

Rick Polito

Editor-in-chief, Nutrition Business Journal

As Nutrition Business Journal's editor-in-chief, Rick Polito writes about the trends, deals and developments in the natural nutrition industry, looking for the little companies coming up and the big money coming in. An award-winning journalist, Polito knows that facts and figures never give the complete context and that the story of this industry has always been about people.

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