HFSS and new implications for: product, concept and reformulation.
We have seen time and time again that people say they want healthier food and drink, but when it comes down to it, taste always wins out – and unfortunately behavioural science has a lot to do with these behaviour as our brains are wired to think ‘naughty’ foods and drinks are tastier.
As a result of Overconfidence Bias, most people believe their diets are better than average, possibly leading to the fact that over 90% of people aren’t strongly concerned about their consumption of fat, salt and sugar, and therefore will likely still prioritise taste over health.
Another Bias that has been at play in the past year or so is the Present Bias. This is where we place more weight on things happening in the here and now and are less likely to worry about the future. We know people have had a lot on their minds, and the possible effects of too much sugar, fat and salt on our health in the future was not top of mind!
We also saw a reversion to comfort eating and relying on our favourite foods and drinks to get us through, and in conjunction with the Present Bias this created a ‘live for the moment’ type of vibe where healthy eating was not a priority for the majority.
However… as we’ve moved on and out of restrictions we have started to look forward again, and this is where we start to re-evaluate our lives, and our health and start thinking about making healthier choices in order to safeguard our futures. With government pressures, and a continuing focus on making healthy choices, those brands that offer healthy products, and make that choice easy are the ones that will win out (as long as we remember that taste is always going to be key!).
We’ve seen previously with salt reduction work that simply replacing products with heathier versions in one fell swoop doesn’t work – people are turned off. There are two strategies that come to the fore:
- Offering choice – heathier line extensions that we can nudge consumers towards (and may be able to be used in comms, thereby offering mental availability). For this to work the new line extensions have to stimulate our emotions, motivate us to buy them, and be relevant to us and the context of our lives. Our concept testing tools ensure that your new ideas meet all of those criteria.
- Re-development – slowly reducing salt, sugar and fat content over a long period of time in order to allow our palates to re-set. Beware of incremental degradation though – our product testing tools allow you to check the reactions of consumers to your redevelopment.
What is clear is that people will simply not buy products again and again if they don’t like them. One time trial of healthier food & drink might be very high, but to get a good repeat level, taste is king.