In 'small' we trust

by Jeff Gelski
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Consumers perceive that natural foods are the domain of independent brands.
Consumers perceive that natural foods are the domain of independent brands, according to a survey by Instantly.

LOS ANGELES – When it comes to creating all-natural products, 75 percent of Americans said they trust small, independent companies over large, established ones, according to a national consumer poll released Oct. 1 by Instantly. Another 70 percent said they believe most natural foods brands are independent, compared to 30 percent who said they believe large companies own natural foods brands.

Los Angeles-based Instantly provides researchers and marketers with immediate access to consumers and automated insights tools. For this study Instantly polled more than 4,200 people in the United States from Sept. 15-21. People answered questions on-line or on mobile devices. 

Andy Jolls, CMO at Instantly
Andy Jolls, CMO at Instantly

“The perception among consumers is that natural foods are the domain of independent brands, and larger corporations don’t have this specialty, but with the mergers and acquisitions in the consumer packaged goods industry, the reality is that many food brands are owned by a handful of big companies,” said Andy Jolls, CMO at Instantly. “As demand for natural foods and ingredients rises, marketers need to be mindful about both the risks and opportunities that exist and position their brands carefully so as not to damage consumer trust.”

The poll found 41 percent said they strongly agree that foods with artificial ingredients are less healthy than those with all-natural substitutes, and another 41 percent said they somewhat agree with that statement. If all-natural substitutes replace artificial ingredients in a brand, 35 percent said they definitely would have a more positive perception of the brand and 44 percent said they would have a somewhat more positive perception. If all-natural substitutes replace artificial ingredients in a brand, 32 percent said they would be much more likely to buy the brand and 43 percent said they would be somewhat more likely.

The survey asked questions about specific food product categories, too. Seventy-two per cent said removing all artificial ingredients from cereal and cereal bars would make the products healthier. The percentages were 60 percent for canned soups, 53 percent for snacks, 44 percent for frozen dinners, 44 percent for packaged dinners, 37 percent for frozen pizza, 24 percent for fast-food and 16 percent for candy.

When asked whether they had a good understanding of artificial ingredients and natural ingredients as well as the differences between them, 23 percent said they thoroughly understand, 45 percent said they had a good understanding, 25 percent said they had a decent understanding, and 6 percent said they did not fully understand.

Even though 75 percent said they trust small, independent companies more on all-natural products, overall trust was higher for large, established companies (52 percent) than small, independent companies (48 percent).

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