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CONSUMER RESPONSES TO FOOD LABELS INFLUENCED BY AGE OF DEMOGRAPHIC

  

Sep 9, 2016

    

In a recent presentation at the Institute for Food Technologists 2016 Annual Meeting, the Clean Label Revolution was reviewed based on a study conducted by C+R Research.  The project funded by the IFT included a survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers of whom 7 in 10 claimed to read labels on a regular basis.

To understand the influence of age demographics on response to labels, the following age definitions are generally accepted:-

  • Generation Z                           15 to 20 years old
  • Generation Y or Millennials   20 to 40 years old
  • Generation X                           40 to 55 years old
  • Boomers                                  55 to 70 years old
  

The C+R study classified consumers into four group according to their approach to labels:

  • The Vigilante comprising 20 percent of the sample payed close attention to product labels.  Most of this category are represented by boomers. 
  • The Balancers comprising 15 percent of the survey pay attention to labels but they are not as concerned over specifics.  This group also includes boomers some of whom follows the philosophy of  “eating everything in moderation”
  • The Keep-it- Simple category comprising 47 percent vaguely want to eat healthier but do not want to invest time in either study or reading labels.  This group was represented by Generation Y or Millennials.
  • The Unconcerned representing 17 percent of the sample are more interested in value and convenience then health.  This group comprise Generation Y consumers who are interested in value especially when raising children.

The study showed that specific nutrients are of concern to different age demographics.  Sugar is a factor however common to all generations. Sodium is important to boomers, trans fat to Generation X’ers and boomers and the descriptor “all natural” to millennials and Generation X’ers

Boomers who have more health concerns based on their age and in many cases have more time to shop indicated that they are concentrating on specific foods based on labels. 

Of interest from the study is the surprising finding that over a third of those surveyed did not consider GM status as affecting their purchased decisions.  This finding was common across all four generations. 

The most important label indications influencing the purchase decision included sugar, sodium, fat, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and trans fat. Attributes or nutrients of less concern included probiotics, prebiotics and organic status.