CINCINNATI, OH: Around one quarter of consumers globally are committed to health and these are also more likely to be both affluent and more valuable than the average customer a new report has found.

Healthy, Wealthy & Wise, a study from customer science business dunnhumby, looked at customer behaviour across 18 countries in North and South America, Western and Central Europe, and Asia, augmenting dunnhumby's own data with a survey in eight countries that represented the cross section of ranges of health risk factors reported by the World Health Organization.

The report noted that health was rising up the consumer agenda – over the last five years there had been a 38% increase in the overall number of health-committed consumers – and that these consumers were consistently more affluent in all the countries studied.

Even more pertinently for brands and retailers, they were found to be 24% more valuable than the average customer.

These two factors alone made a strong case for companies shifting their health stance out of corporate social responsibility programs and making it a core business strategy, according to Julian Highley, Global Director of Customer Knowledge for dunnhumby.

"The higher priority given to health and wellness by consumers around the world represents a remarkable opportunity for brands, especially considering the significantly higher value that health-committed consumers represent," he said.

Food brands are an important source of information for consumers committed to health: 63% turned to these when seeking guidance, while 53% thought retailers had a role to play here. Just 37% expected government to provide a lead.

Labelling is often a focus of the efforts of food brands to impart information but health-committed US shoppers tended not to trust these, while global consumers were less likely than US shoppers to even look at nutrition labels.

Dunnhumby suggested that brands would do well to focus on influencing health far beyond the label, through a variety of marketing and media tactics.

That could include increasing the number of promotions on healthy products, as 80% of consumers saw this as being a key to changing their bad eating habits. Seven in ten regards the cost of healthy foods as the major barrier to then adopting a more healthy lifestyle.

Data sourced from Business Wire; additional content from Warc staff