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Focus on Diet and Health Affects How Half of Americans Shop

Trends & Research

Half of Americans Shop with Diets and Health in Mind

At Label Insight, food data is a big deal. We are dedicated to helping brands and retailers improve the way they share their product data with consumers. We also invest in research to stay ahead of food industry trends. Our latest research, Label Insight’s 2017 Shopper Trends Study, didn’t disappoint. We’re sharing our biggest takeaways in a series of blog posts, so keep following for the full scoop.

Diet-Driven Decisions

The goal of this study was to learn more about people’s dietary preferences and how confident they feel about finding the information they need to make informed buying decisions.

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What we found is astoundingly, nearly half of consumers today follow a diet or health-related program that impacts the way they shop for food. A closer look shows that heart-healthy, high-fiber, gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan diets top the list at 22 percent, 12 percent, 11 percent and 9 percent, respectively. Also of note, were that survey respondents were following at least 25 different types of diets, showing just how varied consumers’ definitions of healthy have become.

An Eye on Ingredients

Because the majority of people shop with diets in mind, they also carefully consider ingredients. In fact, 98% believe it’s important for them to consider the ingredients in the food products they buy, and three in four shoppers review what is—and isn’t—in the foods they buy.

It’s during this careful review of ingredient lists and product labels that brands have a big opportunity to influence purchase decisions. Shoppers report that when labels include terms related to their diet preferences they’re more likely to purchase the product. In particular, respondents said the terms organic (45%), low sugar (43%), natural (43%) and high protein (41%) have the greatest influence.


For brands, cross-checking your ingredients and claims against these leading diets and hot-button descriptions may reveal information gaps that if addressed could drive additional purchases. For retailers, this data reinforces the importance of shelves or aisles dedicated to specific diets and preferences.

We found it particularly interesting that “natural,” a term not regulated nor defined by the FDA, is considered one of the most influential label descriptions. Understanding how your consumers define this term is critical for optimizing product development and labeling.   

Avoiding Allergens

Diets aren’t the only thing driving purchase decisions. Half of shoppers also report that food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities impact what foods they buy. This could explain why gluten-free and dairy-free both rank in the top five diets.

The big takeaway? When it comes to food products, consumers needs are complex and varied. Addressing shoppers’ diet, health and allergen interests and concerns with easy-to-understand labels is key. For some brands, this may mean clarifying or adding descriptions or claims to labels. For others, it may require going beyond the package with digital labeling. At the end of the day, it all comes back to transparency. And as previous research shows, transparency ROI is real, yielding increases in brand loyalty, market share and perceived worth.

Check back soon or subscribe to the blog to get more research findings delivered to your inbox. Can’t wait? Download the full 2017 Shopper Trends study for complete results and insights.

Download the survey results

A note about our methodology. In March 2017, Label Insight surveyed 1,003 consumers who have a shared or primary responsibility for household shopping purchases. Consumers were asked about their dietary preferences, their ability to find information they need to make informed purchasing decisions, and their confidence in finding the information they seek.