Report: Consumers don’t actually want less sugar — especially in candy
FMCG Gurus research shows that consumers have negative perceptions about sugar, but they don’t actually change their diets.
Over the last decade, much attention has been given to the attempts made by consumers to reduce sugar. Despite this, the proportion of consumers classified as overweight or obese or suffering from diabetes continues to grow. This indicates a significant attitude-behavior gap that exists amongst consumers.
FMCG Gurus research shows that while consumers have negative perceptions toward sugar, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily making changes to their diets. This is particularly true in indulgent categories such as confectionery.
Over the last decade, sugar has claimed the position of number one dietary evil among consumers. This is because of the attention given by health stakeholders to the link between excessive sugar intake and obesity and diabetes. This is resulting in consumers saying they are making conscious efforts to change their diets in order to minimize sugar intake.
FMCG Gurus research of 25,000 consumers conducted in 2019 for instance shows that 48 percent of consumers say that they make conscious attempts to avoid high sugary items.
The desire to cut down on sugar is not surprising. At any one time, a total of 39 percent of consumers say that they are on a diet to lose weight. When it comes to actions taken to try and reduce waistlines, 48 percent say that they have reduced sugar intake. This was the third most popular action after exercising more and trying to eat more fresh food.
Meanwhile, a total of 26 percent of consumers deem themselves to have either diabetes Types 1 or 2 or pre-diabetes. Combined with the fact that 39 percent of consumers say that zero sugar claims make products healthy, it is not surprising that consumers say they want to cut down on sugar.
However, despite consumers saying that they are trying to cut down on sugar, the growing number of people classified as overweight or obese continues to grow. As does the number of people diagnosed with diabetes. This indicates an attitude/behavior gap.
The reality is that when it comes to trying to reduce sugar intake, it’s difficult and often done short-term. FMCG Gurus research shows that 42 percent of consumers say that they are not aware of how much sugar they have consumed in the last 24 hours. Additionally, 53 percent of consumers admit that they have made plans to cut down on sugar, but have not actually done so.
When it comes to zero sugar claims, it is also important not to over-estimate the extent that consumers say they want such claims. This is particularly true in product categories inherently associated with indulgence.
When it comes to confectionery, only 24 percent of buyers say that they like to see low sugar claims. This is because ultimately, consumers will prioritize indulgence over health when it comes to moments of enjoyment.
Consumers deem sugar to be a dietary evil and are conscious about their intake. However, this doesn’t mean that they are making fundamental changes to their diets. It also doesn’t mean that consumers are seeking out low/zero sugar offers, particularly if they are associated with compromised indulgence.
Mike Hughes is head of research and insight at FMCG Gurus. This report is based on a survey of 25,000 consumers conducted in Q1 2019. For more info please contact FMCG Gurus at firstname.lastname@example.org.