Retail Trends: Are you catering for your health-conscious customers?

by 12 July 2017

Retail Trends: Are you catering for your health-conscious customers? by Ellie Prior

The importance of health has seen significant growth in recent years with consumers transforming their diets to include ‘cleaner’, healthier foods; removing products deemed to be unhealthy and cutting out things such as gluten and dairy. Celebrities and health bloggers have contributed to this change in lifestyle, and consequently the demand for products to achieve it, making it a lucrative market for convenience retailers to exploit.

Consumers are calling for convenience retailers to cater for their health needs; HIM reported recently that 31% of shoppers believe that convenience stores do not offer enough healthy options for evening meals, 25% not enough options for lunch, and 74% of consumers seek a greater variety of healthy snacks.

There are a number of health and dietary markets that convenience retailers can enter to cater for the increasingly health conscious population; one of the most rapidly growing is the ‘free-from’ market which includes a number of allergens and produce such as gluten, diary/lactose, eggs and nuts.

Mintel forecast the value of the free-from market at £531 million in 2016, with this value expected to rise to £673 million by 2020. This growth has been due to the fact that the demand for free-from products is no longer purely from those with intolerances, but now includes a growing group of consumers cutting certain products out of their diets in order to follow ‘healthier’ lifestyles.

The gluten free market has been particularly relevant to convenience retailers; with charity Coeliac UK launching their ‘gluten free guarantee’ campaign at the recent National Convenience Show. The campaign calls for convenience retailers to pledge to stock gluten free essentials such as gluten free bread, cereal, pasta and ready to eat products to cater for the growing number of gluten free consumers.

There are a considerable amount of free-from products currently on the market that convenience retailers can introduce to their stores; from exclusive free-from brands such as Nakd bars and Mrs Crimble’s, to those brands extending their current product lines to include free-from products, such as Warburtons and McVitie’s.

Another significant health trend is the reduction of sugar intake in daily diets. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their sugar intake and are becoming more educated on the need to reduce it. This has been spurred by government regulations, with the introduction of the soft drink levy and increased campaigning for healthy lifestyles.

The sugar tax on soft drinks in particular will have a significant impact on convenience retailers, with drinks containing more than 8g of added sugar per 100ml set to be taxed 24p per litre, meaning 47% of soft drinks will increase in price. This could have a detrimental effect, deterring customers from purchasing soft drinks, or it could be an opportunity to capitalise on the increased availability and popularity of sugar-free drink options.

In an article published by Convenience Store magazine, Nigel Paine from Britvic urged convenience retailers to ensure they stock enough no added sugar products, and use signposting and store promotions to highlight the product ingredients. The number of no added and sugar free products has seen remarkable growth, with a number of brands modifying their products to decrease the sugar content, such as Lucozade Zero and Ribena, and brands entering the sugar free soft drink market, such as the new Glaceau Smartwater Sparkling fruit drinks from Coca-Cola.

Another trend that has been growing over the years as a result of the rise in popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets, has been the reduced meat consumption or meat free diets.  The vegan population in the UK has grown monumentally in the past decade, up 360%, from 150,000 in 2006 to 542,000 in 2016.  Although many consumers are not making the full lifestyle change, 29% of them are trying to eat less meat according to the British Social Attitudes survey. This reduction in meat consumption has been reflected by growth in the meat-free market, currently valued at £559 million, which is forecast to rise by 9% over the next five years. Convenience retailers can cater for this changing consumer behaviour with the introduction of meat substitution products, such as Quorn and Linda McCartney.

For convenience retailers, keeping up with consumer trends such as healthy eating means ensuring loyalty, increased footfall from customers who don’t have to rely on supermarkets to meet their requirements, and potentially higher margins on higher value niche products.

For more information on how TLM can help your business impress your customers, increase loyalty and keep up with industry trends, just get in touch!

Author: Ellie Prior, Marketing Intern, TLM Technologies

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