Allergies and food intolerance – how they affect shopping July 13, 2015

Allergies and food intolerance – how they affect shopping

According to our panel, consumers with food allergies and intolerances have their work cut out when it comes to food shopping. Trying to avoid ingredients and keep the cost down are the two big issues they face. Grocery shopping for this group is more time consuming because of the level of research needed to ensure they are buying the right products. Having to check things constantly is frustrating. Says one panel member…”it’s just label reading, label reading, label reading!”.

When the labels are clear, things are easier, such as in the case of more common allergies such as nut and gluten. However, the other big issue for this group is cost and with many gluten free products being two or three times more expensive, it’s a real barrier for them. One member describes their gluten-free breakfast cereal as a “rare treat” because of the price. Others mention cutting out particular foods from their diet because the version they would need to buy is just too pricey.

So, taking these issues into account, how do they affect the way consumers buy food products? For a start brand switching is lower among this group, who not surprisingly prefer to stick to tried and tested brands and products in order to cut down on time spent researching as well as the assurance that they know they can eat what they buy. As one respondent puts it, “rarely do I experiment because I prefer my current health than addressing an allergic reaction”. This is a group of nervous shoppers. Even when labels contain lists of ingredients, not all of them believe it and are reluctant to try anything new, for fear of it setting off a reaction. Gaining the trust of this group is key to achieving success with them and getting them to buy your products.

A sub group of those with allergies and food intolerances is taking a different approach to food shopping. Rather than buying into the health food category, they are instead going back to basics, buying fresh ingredients, and cooking everything from scratch; including everyday items such as stocks, bread and even yoghurt. Taking the approach that “fresh is best” saves them money and guarantees that they know exactly what is in everything they eat. For this group the peace of mind achieved and money saved is worth the extra effort involved.

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