A new survey found that while “natural” is a nonregulated claim on food packaging, the word would be most likely to motivate 53% of Americans to purchase a product this year. The survey of 1,000 US adults by Wakefield Research for Label Insight uncovered which loosely regulated claims would most likely influence consumer purchase behavior. While there is no standard definition, natural can be defined as the absence of color additives and artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives in products that are minimally processed. More than half of shoppers (51%) were also swayed by “no preservatives”. Nearly two-third (63%) of baby boomers say a product with that claim would motivate them to buy compared to Generation X (46%) and millennials (41%). Consumers would be more likely to buy meat labeled as “antibiotic free” (34%), “free range” (26%), and “grass fed” (25%). “Pasture raised” influences only 17% of shoppers. Yet free range and pasture raised are synonymous terms, meaning the animal has been raised outdoors.
Lightbulb Moment: This study uncovered how consumers react to unregulated terms, so they are reacting to their perception of what the terms mean, not what they mean to each company touting the claims. As a company, just ask yourself, if you ended up on the wrong end of a lawsuit for one of these claims, could you successfully defend yourself if the consumers’ perception doesn’t match your own?