British consumers care far more about health qualities of their food and drinks than they did five years ago, new research reveals, with brand the main source of information as to what is healthy.

This is according to new research by KPMG, the professional services firm, which surveyed over 2000 British consumers, via YouGov, to explore the health trend in food and beverage categories. The survey took place over the course of two days (11th-12th) in June 2019.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of GB consumers say they care more about the health qualities of the products they buy than five years ago.

By far the most influential factor on perceptions of healthy food and drink is brand, which 40% of respondents credit with informing their decisions. “Brands clearly have great influence over what consumers determine as healthy, and customers need to be clued up on the health claims around certain ingredients”, explained Jason Parker, UK head of health at KPMG.

In a broader wellness space that is often associated with the clean-living influencer channel, the potency of the brand at the top of the funnel tells a different story from that assumed by much of the marketing industry.

Surprisingly, when it comes to the sources of information that consumers use to guide their purchases, much of the conventional marketing orthodoxy appears flipped. For instance, the typically influential source of friends guides just over a fifth (22%) of consumers, the same proportion that base their choices on government advice.

What’s more, influencers on social media sway the choices of just 4% of respondents. Slightly more influential are app-based nutritionists, though these only guide 13% of the sample.

“Consumer businesses can’t afford to lose sight of how much trust consumers place in brands or a product’s health claims. Brands simply cannot afford to get this wrong”, said Linda Ellett, UK head of consumer markets at KPMG. “It is vital that consumers are fully informed but equally, not perplexed. A clear distinction needs to be made between products containing a healthy ingredient versus the product that is healthy in its entirety.”

The trend is more pronounced among female consumers, of which 64% say they care more about the health impact on their diets. Yet men aren’t far behind, with 60% saying the same. At a generational level, there’s little surprise that 76% of 18-25 year-olds care more about health impacts of their diet, and that a smaller proportion of over-55s (59%) say the same.

For nutritional insight, 50% of respondents use the ingredients list or the traffic light labelling system (showing fat, salt, and sugar content). Calorie content informs 40% of consumers, just in front of price at 37%. For 28% of the sample, the general look of the product sways their decision.

Sourced from KPMG; additional content by WARC staff