Healthy Eating for the Holidays

November 20, 2017

The holidays are about getting together with loved ones and of course, eating together.

Growing concerns about healthy food and overall wellness are impacting meal choices and therefore grocery shoppers’ food selections. People are also worried about putting on weight over the holidays—the average American gains 1 pound during the holidays.

How can grocers address shoppers’ demand for healthy food to ensure they have what they are looking for at their grocery store? This article explores shoppers’ health perceptions, interests and cooking at home habits and offers some tips for addressing these shoppers’ wants.

Wealth of Health

Health and wellness programs are a “significant growth opportunity” for 81% of grocers, according to a recent Food Marketing Institute grocer survey. Grocers categorized several activities as part of the health and wellness programs, the most popular of which include:

86% product sampling

86% healthy recipes

68% smartphone apps for creating grocery lists

54% food education

For consumers, health and wellness are compelling reasons to make healthy food selections. Weight loss, protecting long-term health and wanting to feel better are the top 3 reasons consumers eat healthy food. However, fewer than half of consumers are able to name the food that will help them reach their desired benefit from eating healthy food.

Some consumers make healthy food selections due to special dietary needs.

1 in 7 follow a specific diet with paleo, vegan and vegetarian as the most common

30.3 million diabetics in the US

up to 15 million Americans have food allergies

No matter the reason for it, the term “healthy food” is open to interpretation. Common consumer definitions include:

60% high in healthy components/nutrients

51% free of artificial ingredients/preservatives/additives

35% low in unhealthy components/nutrients

32% minimally processed

27% natural

18% organic

17% non-GMO

Guidance for Grocers: The gap between customer demand for healthy products and customer knowledge about what to buy to achieve their health goals represents an opportunity for grocers. Create educational in-store signage so your customers know that sweet potatoes have beta-carotene, which eliminates damaging free radicals in the body, for example. Share this educational information on digital channels such as Social Media posts. Consider including a food fact of the week/month in customer emails. Add healthy tidbits to your website and grocery app. Hire an advertising solutions provider to develop and distribute this content if you don’t have the staff resources to do so.

Domestic Dining

Given the penchant for healthy eating, is it any surprise that twice as many consumers eat home-cooked meals than dine out? 88% of consumers believe that eating at home is healthier than eating at restaurants and healthier cooking is a priority for 51% of Millennials.

Over 7 in 10 Americans cook at home at least 4 nights per week, citing saving money and eating healthy as the top 2 reasons. Here are the major factors most consumers consider when meal planning:

63% Millennials say how easy/quick the meal is to prepare

74% Boomers say it’s nutrition

51% of Americans would cook more meals at home if they had more ideas

44% of Americans cook on a stovetop

25% cook with an oven

24% cook with the microwave

When customers are shopping for ingredients to cook at home, these are the food attributes they seek:

75% fresh

63% free of pesticides

52% healthy

51% free of antibiotics

49% free of added hormones

47% want 100% natural

38% no added sugar

33% organic

24% fat-free

20% gluten-free

12% dairy-free

Guidance for Grocers: Grocers should deliver 2 kinds of content both in-store and on digital channels based on this understanding of what grocery shoppers are looking for. Share recipes and food pictures to inspire cooking, especially healthy recipes! Secondly, clearly communicate which food attributes products have. Use shelf talkers, in-store signage and special displays so customers can easily find healthy food. Share photos of these and consider spotlighting a healthy deal of the week. Leverage Social Media, email, push notifications and other digital channels to foster awareness and engagement in your healthy initiatives.

Service Tags: 
Creative Solutions