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Do not overestimate consumer awareness about protein

A recent survey has shown that consumers think very positively about protein. However, as Mike Hughes explains, it is important to not overestimate the extent that consumers monitor their protein intake…

Over the last decade, protein has had something of a health halo attached to it. This is because it is an ingredient that can be found in everyday food types, is known and trusted and appeals to a wide variety of consumers.

Whilst consumers have favourable perceptions of protein, it is important not to overestimate the extent that they monitor protein intake and seek out claims on product packaging.

Indeed, rather than developing an understanding around protein intake and the related benefits, consumers are more likely to associate protein claims with making products ‘guilt free’.

Overestimating diet and education

A recent survey by FMCG Gurus spoke to over 20,000 consumers in Q2 2019 about protein. The results show that whilst consumers have positive perceptions of the ingredient, it is important not to overestimate how many consumers are making fundamental changes to their diets to boost protein intake. For instance, a total of 47 percent of consumers already think that they have enough protein in their diets, whilst only 41 percent say that they would like to increase the amount of protein they consume.

Most consumers obtain protein from everyday foods such as meat.

When it comes to protein sources, consumers are more likely to say that they obtain the ingredient from everyday foods such as meat (60 percent) compared to specialist products fortified and positioned around high protein (16 percent). 

Moreover, it is also important not to overestimate the extent that consumers are educating themselves about protein. Indeed, protein is associated with a myriad of benefits, with consumers most likely to associate the ingredient with general health and wellness (70 percent). However, 51 percent of consumers admit that they do not know how much protein they have consumed in the last 24 hours, whilst four in ten admit that they do not know why they need protein in their body.

It is also important not to overestimate the extent that consumers are seeking out alternative protein sources. For instance, only 36 percent of consumer say that they find the concept of eating insects as a protein source appealing.

Everyday consumers

The reality is that the demand for high protein products is not being driven exclusively by consumers who engage in physical activity and take an active interest in protein sources. Instead, the demand for high protein products can often be driven by everyday time-scarce and health consumers who simply want a better-for-you option when it comes to snacking.

Demand for protein products is not only driven by consumers who take an active interest in protein sources.

Indeed, these consumers will often opt for a high protein product irrespective of how much protein they have had that day or if they feel they have enough protein in their diets. Instead, they will turn to these products because they are offering a convenient health boost.

Therefore, rather than promoting factors such as the quality and content of the protein source and information such as amino acid content, brands and manufacturers should instead focus on promoting the taste and affordability of the products.

Biography

Mike Hughes has over 13 years’ experience analysing consumer trends, attitudes and behaviours and currently heads up the research and insight division at FMCG Gurus. Mike has a particular interest in highlighting how consumer attitudes and behaviours can often differ and what the true meaning of trends are for the industry.

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