Study: Confusing Ingredients Cause Shoppers to Consider Switching Brands Even if it Means Paying More

Label Insight study reveals 95 percent of American consumers are interested in using mobile technology to improve their label literacy.

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CHICAGO, June 28, 2017 (PRNewswire) — When examining food labels today, consumers are still confused about the ingredients in their food products. This confusion leads shoppers to not only consider switching brands but to pay more for brands whose ingredients they understand.

The study was released today by Label Insight, the market leader for product transparency. It surveyed more than 1,000 consumers on feelings of confusion with food product ingredients and labeling, the behavioral impact of this confusion on purchasing behavior and how technology solutions might alleviate concerns.

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Consumers are confused by ingredients and claims on food labels.

Label Insight's 2017 Ingredient Confusion study found that:

  • 83 percent of consumers feel confused at least some of the time about ingredients listed on food package labels.
  • 45 percent of those surveyed are concerned when they eat food products that contain ingredients that they don't understand.
  • While package claims of "natural," "healthy" and "clean" should help inform consumers, only about one-third of Americans completely understand what those claims mean.

Ingredient confusion weakens brand trust and impacts product sales.

The study revealed that when consumers don't understand what is in their food, the outcomes can be damaging for manufacturers.

  • 60 percent of those surveyed say they trust the brand less when they see ingredients they don't recognize or find confusing.
  • 35 percent do not buy a product when they find ingredients on the label that are confusing.
  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers would be willing to switch to another food product if they understand the ingredients in that product.
  • More than half (54 percent) would pay more for a food product that contains ingredients they understand or recognize.

Shoppers clamor for technology solutions to better understand ingredients.

As in nearly every other aspect of their lives, consumers turn to technology to provide answers, researching product information online.

  • 46 percent of consumers turn to mobile devices in store for information about confusing ingredients, and when looking at millennials in particular, that number jumps to 56 percent.
  • A staggering 95 percent of consumers are interested in a technology that allows them to easily get detailed product ingredient information using their mobile phone while they are in the store – 65 percent are very interested.

"Consumer demand for product transparency is on the rise, and when brands and retailers fail to deliver, it erodes brand trust," said Kira Karapetian, Vice President of Marketing for Label Insight. "This study reveals that consumers are not only confused by the ingredients in their food, but willing to adjust their buying habits in order to better understand what they are eating and drinking. Not surprisingly, American consumers are turning to technology to solve this issue. We use our smartphones to purchase groceries, to find the best car mechanic, and to track our fitness levels and sleep patterns – it's natural that we would use technology to find more comprehensive product information such as ingredient definitions and their purpose in the product. The industry is responding and giving consumers the tools they need to improve their label literacy through transparency initiatives like SmartLabel."

SmartLabel gives consumers a way to access more detailed product information about a wide range of food, beverage, household, pet care and personal care products. It's fast and easy to use, with a consistent digital format that shares accurate product data directly from the manufacturer. Through online landing pages that are accessible by smartphones, tablets, desktops and by phone, consumers can find product information organized in a consistent manner, including ingredient definitions and the reason each ingredient is in the product. Label Insight is the leading SmartLabel solution provider, powering more SmartLabel pages than any other provider.

The complete results of the 2017 Ingredient Confusion study can be found at

About Label Insight

Label Insight is the market leader for transparency, enabling access to complete and accurate product information for nearly 400,000 products, representing 80 percent of the top purchased CPG products in the U.S. The company's product transparency engine powers data driven solutions for brands, retailers, researchers, analytics providers, government agencies and consumer applications by capturing and enhancing data contained on the packaging and labeling of food, pet, and personal care products. Label Insight customers use this data to provide greater transparency to consumers; easily participate in industry and government initiatives, such as SmartLabel; create more connected omni-channel experiences; and maximize category growth potential.

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