Discovering Perceptions In The Free From Category

08JUL Discovering Perceptions In The Free From Category


Our partnership with Glow, the consumer market research platform, is a powerful tool to understand what consumers are thinking.  Some recent research into “Free From”, as featured in The Grocer (£), has unearthed some fascinating insights into a category that is reshaping supermarket aisles.

The Rise of the ‘Flexitarian’

In a survey of over 300 shoppers, we saw a large number of respondents considering a change in their diets.  Clearly, supermarkets and retailers have a huge role to play in creating accessibility to Free From products and taking an environmental lead.

“A lot of media noise around vegan and vegetarian diets is fuelled by politics, and the issue of animal rights and animal cruelty,” said Lindsey Hills, Category and Business Development Director, “While those are important in driving consumers to Free From, consumers are telling us it’s actually broader environmental concerns that are the number one motivator.

This means it’s important that manufacturers evaluate their processes to identify how they can have less tangible environmental impact — this includes processing, sourcing of ingredients and type of packaging materials.  You risk harming your brand or restricting sales potential by wrapping a Free From product in plastic, for example.”

The What and Where of Free From

Breadth of range in a retailer was revealed as the key requirement from Free From shoppers; over 60% of correspondents wanted access to as wide a choice of product as possible.  Price sensitivity was also a concern, while over 25% indicated they preferred a retailer with a decent selection of own range Free From products.

As a relatively new growth area for retailers, there’s no set location for this category in stores — our survey revealed over half of respondents expect to see Free From in their own aisle, as opposed to 23% who expect new ranges to sit with the products they are replacing.

Even better than the real thing?

For the consumers just moving into their new diet, or attempting to cut down on meat and exercise flexibility, we saw a marked requirement for products that are as close as possible to the “real thing”.  52% of vegans and vegetarians indicated they were looking for substitutes that satisfied on taste and texture — they do not want to compromise quality for health, or have the taste of food they use with substitutes (teas, coffees or cereals) to be affected.

What’s in a label?

74% of correspondents stated that consumers find “dairy free” a significantly more motivating label than “plant based”, with only 20% opting for the later.

“One of the strongest messages we took from our research is that consumers want clear labelling on products in this category,” said Lindsey Hills, “We cannot use industry slogans and expect consumers to understand them, they want dairy free product that is clearly sold as such.”

Making Better Decisions

Acosta Insights powered by Glow provides actionable insights that help manufacturers, retailers and marketers make smarter decisions.  To gain advantage with insights like these, or arrange a demonstration, please get in touch.