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Kira Karapetian

By: Kira Karapetian on June 29th, 2017

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Don’t be Confused About Ingredient Confusion

Trends & Research

“If confusion is the first step to knowledge, I must be a genius.” Larry Leissner

Why We Launched the Ingredient Confusion Study Ingredient Confusion Study Results.png

The Label Insight team lives for data. So over the past year, we conducted several studies to better understand today’s consumer. We explored how today’s shoppers make food choices, shop, and what they expect from brands when it comes to product information. We took a deep dive into consumer preferences for product transparency and how it affects their feelings toward brands and their purchasing behavior, and we learned more about their dietary preferences and their ability to find the product information they need to make informed buying decisions.

One theme rang consistent throughout all studies. Confusion.

Consumers are confused about the ingredients in the food products they eat and drink and the personal care products they use. We wanted to get smart about ingredient confusion, and yesterday morning, we released the 2017 Label Insight Ingredient Confusion Study. We’re breaking down the biggest takeaways in a series of blog posts, so make sure to stay tuned to cut down your confusion about ingredient confusion.

Consumers are Confused and Concerned

To put it simply, ingredients matter. Ninety-eight percent of the consumers we surveyed think it’s important to consider ingredients when deciding what products to buy.

But today’s consumer is meeting a big roadblock when evaluating these products. They’re confused about the very elements that make up the products they buy. In fact, 83% of consumers feel confused at least some of the time about ingredients listed on food packaging and 42% feel confused often.

This confusion is causing concern. 45% of those surveyed are concerned when they eat food products that contain ingredients that they don’t understand.

To make matters worse, the clarifying claims on packaging such as “natural,” “healthy” and “clean” are not helping to inform consumers. Only about one-third of Americans completely understand what those claims mean1.


What Does This Mean?

Ingredient confusion is real. And it’s creating a headache for today’s consumers. Gone are the days that consumers buy a product in blissful ignorance - today’s shoppers will adjust their buying habits in order to better understand what they’re eating and drinking. This leads to negative outcomes for brands who aren’t taking a proactive approach to product transparency. Shoppers are so hungry for product knowledge that they are researching ingredients online in an effort to learn more, primarily relying on mobile tech.

So in this instance, confusion may indeed be the first step to knowledge. Here’s to creating an army of ingredient geniuses.

Stay tuned for the next blog in our series which will break down the way ingredient confusion affects buying behavior and what this means for brands. Subscribe to the blog to receive the rest of our Ingredient Confusion series delivered to your inbox. Can’t wait? Download the full 2017 Label Insight Ingredient Confusion Study for complete results and insights.

A note about our methodology. Label Insight surveyed 1,000 consumers who have a shared or primary responsibility for household shopping purchases. Consumers were asked about their feelings of confusion regarding the ingredients in food and personal care products, how that confusion affects their shopping and purchasing behavior, and how technology may alleviate concerns.

download the ingredient confusion study


1. Label Insight’s 2017 Shopper Trends Survey revealed that the term “natural” influences the purchasing decisions of 43% of respondents.