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Retail Industry Updates

Grocery Shoppers Are Clear on Their Views of Transparency

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How do consumers evaluate transparency in the food industry?

Here’s how: 62% of shoppers say a brand or manufacturer is transparent if it provides a complete list of ingredients; 53% says the description of ingredients is in plain English; 48% say a package provides certifications, such as USDA organic; and 47% percent say a package provides in-depth nutritional information.

This information is according to “Transparency Trends: Omnichannel Grocery Shopping from the Consumer Perspective,” a new study by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Label Insight. The two groups also found that 81% of shoppers say transparency is important or extremely important to them both online and in-store.

The report is based on data collected between March 5-8 from 1,000 U.S, omnichannel grocery shoppers who shopped online for groceries in the previous month, in addition to shopping in-store. The report is a follow up to “The Transparency Imperative: Product Labeling from the Consumer Perspective” study conducted in 2018, which examined the growing importance of transparency. This year’s research builds off of the 2018 study, diving deeper into shoppers’ behaviors and expectations for transparency with in-store and online shopping. 

“It’s one thing to know consumers want transparency, it’s another thing to act on it,” said Tim Whiting, vice president of marketing at Label Insight, a Chicago-based company that gathers and provides label information for grocery retailers and consumer packaged brands. “We’re seeing more and more that providing detailed product information is key to building trust and loyalty with consumers. Moving forward, brands will need to continue to listen better to their customers, continuously update their online and in-store content to keep pace with changing consumer preferences, and be an open book when it comes to their products so that they can maintain and grow market share.”

The report also found that responsibility for transparency is met with distrust. 61% of omnichannel shoppers believe manufacturers, brands or government institutions are completely responsible for providing detailed product information; however, less than one-half of shoppers completely trust product information from manufacturers and brands (41%) or from government institutions (46%).

The report also found that consumer needs have changed and transparency needs to evolve along with them. More shoppers are sticking to a diet or health-related eating program in 2020 (64%) than in 2018 (49%); and their shopping behaviors are impacted even more by food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities than two years ago with 44% indicating this in 2018 and 55% in 2020.

Online expectations for transparency are higher than for brick-and-mortar, with 42% of shoppers believing online grocery retailers should be responsible for providing detailed product information, compared to brick-and-mortar grocers (35%), the report learned.

FMI and Label Insight also found that consumers go online to get more information. When met with a need to get more detailed product information or clarify questions, shoppers turn to the internet: 47% of shoppers will choose to research ingredients online in the face of confusion, and 89% would be more likely to seek details on a product if it had more online information.

Click here to download the full report.

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