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3 Out of 4 Shoppers Still Prioritize Transparency, FMI/NielsenIQ Report Finds

Almost two-thirds of shoppers would switch from a brand for more in-depth product information
grocery shopper
Photograph: Shutterstock

Amid a pandemic, a few silver linings have appeared regarding shoppers' behaviors and perspectives, especially when it comes to transparency—not only is it a significant behavior change but it’s also not going away, panelists at a joint FMI-The Food Industry Association and NielsenIQ webinar said Feb. 24.

Citing findings from the new FMI/NielsenIQ report, Transparency in an Evolving Omnichannel World, panelists Krystal Register, director of health and well-being for FMI; Steve Markenson, director of research and insights for FMI; and Sherry Frey, VP of total wellness for NielsenIQ, reported that 3 out of 4 shoppers continue to prioritize ingredient transparency despite the pandemic’s impact of grocery shopper habits.

“The data from this report strongly reinforces the old adage that honesty is the best policy,” said Markenson. “Consumers want to know where their food comes from and how it gets made and that has held true even as the pandemic has changed grocery shopping habits. Whether online or in-store, shoppers prefer brands that tell the whole story about their products.”

So what percent of shoppers think beyond the label? The report finds that most shoppers consider transparency to be extremely important or important (72%), with transparency defined as providing detailed information such as what is in their food and how it was made. Shoppers say that transparency boosts their trust in manufacturers and retailers. Almost two-thirds of shoppers (64%) say they would switch from a brand they usually buy to another brand that provides more in-depth product information, beyond what is provided on the physical label.

When it comes to transparency, report findings reveal that ingredient and nutrition information remain top of mind for an increasing number of health-conscious consumers.

"Transparency trends continue to evolve as omnichannel gains importance," Frey said. "As consumers demand great transparency, brands have an opportunity to educate consumers, communicate sustainability and health credentials and win consumer loyalty."

When deciding which products to buy when grocery shopping, 89% say general nutrition facts about a product are at least somewhat important, while 66% find this important or extremely important, the report found. “Health is driving product choice,” said Register, who is also a registered dietitian.

Beyond nutrition facts, the panelists touched upon the findings in the report that the majority (80%) of shoppers cited other transparency indicators of importance to include allergen information, certifications and claims, and values-based information such as animal welfare, fair trade and labor practices. As grocery stores continue to cater to the omnichannel shopper, transparency in online shopping is also steadily increasing.

Markenson reminded listeners that “we all have food in our fridge, but how it got there is not one specific journey.”

Take for example the following findings from the report. In 2018, just over one-fourth of shoppers (26%) purchased groceries online in the past 30 days. According to the latest findings, that number has ballooned to 55%, making the online marketplace an ever more critical juncture for consumers to find their preferred brands and discover new ones.

The panelists also spoke at great length about how, for example, 47% said discovery of new productsincluding information about sourcing and manufacturing processes—is easier online, compared to 23% saying harder and 30% saying about the same.

When it comes to online shopping and transparency, shoppers say they want faster delivery (42%). Another item they seek from grocers is easier-to-use websites (37%), more and better product information (30%), retention of order history (29%), more accurate search functionality (28%) and product recommendations based on preferences (23%).

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