Food is a hot topic during the holidays, but most of the time it is not focused on health. Traditional holiday foods are generally not very nutritious (cookies, eggnog, candy canes), and most dishes lean towards the indulgent side. However, as consumers are increasingly interested in health and better-for-you foods, many holiday celebrations may incorporate more lighter, healthier fare.
According to a report from Nielsen, 63% of respondents are trying to eat healthier in general, but 68% think the holidays are a time for indulgence. Even so, 43% want to eat healthier this holiday season than they have in the past. Men say they plan to eat better in the meat category, while women say they are going to watch the dessert table.
Despite these good intentions, though, historically, consumers spend less on healthier foods during the holidays compared to the average week. However, away from home, more Americans plan to hold back from temptation and not spend extra money eating and drinking at bars and restaurants over the holiday season.
Along that same trend, Global Market Development Center finds about 63% of consumers are trying to eat healthier and 44% are eating at home more often. Researchers also found 45% of consumers read product labels to make healthier choices, and 48% shop for natural and/or organic products. Within the $3.4 trillion global wellness market, Global Market Development Center estimates about $574 billion is spent on healthy eating. It suggests retailers offer more convenience, remove confusion, foster commitment and provide a better cost to attract more customers.
Even though price is an important factor in customer purchases, a study out of Ohio State University found consumers are more likely to believe food is healthy for them if it is more expensive. In one portion of the study, participants were given information on a product called "granola bites." The product was either given a health grade of A- or C. Those who were told the health grade was A- believed the granola bites would be more expensive than those who were told the grade was a C.
In another section of the study, participants rated a breakfast cracker that they were told was more expensive as healthier than an identical cracker that cost less. In the final study, participants were asked to evaluate a product with the slogan "Healthiest Protein Bar on the Planet." Some were told the bar cost $0.99, while others were told it cost $4. When given the opportunity to read reviews about the bar, participants read significantly more reviews when they thought the bar would cost only $0.99 than when it cost $4.
As Nielsen puts it, "There is a huge opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to provide consumers with delicious healthy meal solutions and help them crack the code to healthy eating and drinking during the holiday season."