Shoppers Rely on Mobile Tech to Improve their Label Literacy

Posted by Kira Karapetian on July 13, 2017

As a company built on a belief in transparency, the Label Insight team knows the better informed we are about what’s in the products we use and consume, the more we can make smart purchase decisions. So, when we launched the 2017 Label Insight Ingredient Confusion Study in late June, we wanted to better understand the challenges today’s consumers are facing in the aisle.

We’ve been breaking down the study piece-by-piece in our Ingredient Confusion blog series. In Part 1, we learned that consumers are confused and concerned about the ingredients in the food products they purchase, and in Part 2, we broke down how this concern and confusion impacts shopper behavior and brand perceptions. Here in Part 3, we’ll reveal how consumers are taking matters into their own hands and what they want brands to do about it.

Consumers Are Taking Matters Into Their Own Hands

Shoppers are hungry for ingredient information, and if it’s not provided they’re taking matters into their own hands. As in nearly every other aspect of their lives, consumers turn to technology to provide answers, including researching ingredient information online.

Our study found that 46% of consumers turn to mobile devices while in-store for information about confusing ingredients, and when looking at millennials in particular, that number jumps to 56%.

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Not surprisingly, consumers expect technology to solve this issue. We already use our smartphones to purchase groceries, to find the best car mechanic, and to track our fitness levels and sleep patterns – now we look to it for comprehensive and transparent ingredient information about our food.

But what are consumers finding when they start Googling? Will that information inform or inflame? And what’s a brand to do?

The Fix

A staggering 95% of consumers are interested in a technology that allows them to easily get detailed product ingredient information using their mobile phone while they are in the store – 65% are very interested.

This presents an opportunity for brands to be more proactive with their transparency efforts and provide online ingredient definitions. Even why the ingredient was used in each product. In effect, brands have the opportunity to own the messaging consumers are already seeking out online. These efforts go a long way to alleviate consumer confusion and repair brand trust.

The leading transparency initiative already being implemented by major brands across the country is SmartLabel™, which gives consumers a way to access more detailed product information in a consistent digital format.

One of the key ways SmartLabel can solve for Ingredient Confusion is by providing ingredient definitions as well as the reason each ingredient is in the product. Providing ingredient definitions online goes a long way to ease confusion and frustration with consumers. Ingredient definitions are a voluntary component of SmartLabel pages, however, many brands feel that ingredient descriptions add a high level of transparency and a more engaging customer experience. The Label Insight team has created a dictionary of FDA approved ingredient descriptions that brands can easily use if they choose to. Brands also have the opportunity to provide their own custom ingredient definitions that have been approved by their regulatory and legal teams.

Want to learn more about getting started with SmartLabel?

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The Confusion Conclusion

Shoppers are meeting a huge roadblock when evaluating their food products - they’re confused and concerned about the very elements that make up the products they buy. This confusion is creating friction between consumers and brands, who consumers expect this type of transparency from.

Consumers don’t trust brands when they’re confused about a product’s ingredients, oftentimes won’t buy a product when they find ingredients on the label that are confusing, and the majority would be willing to switch to another food product if they understand the ingredients in that product.

But there’s a fix - brands have an opportunity to alleviate that confusion and improve their relationship with consumers by providing the transparency consumers seek. Brands that are able to get ahead of this trend now and provide the transparency consumers seek will be poised for success today and in the future.

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

Topics: Trends & Research

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