Nutritionists, dietitians can deliver clarifying edge: NGA-SG study

February 13, 2013

Healthy eating guidance influences store choice—and many consumers are willing to pay for personalized service.

This is the third of five stories on The Lempert Report this week revealing some key findings from the National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru 2013 Consumer Panel Survey. The NGA Show has just concluded in Las Vegas, where our CEO Phil Lempert presented study insights to the nation’s independent grocers.

For nearly three-quarters of consumers (73.0%), access to nutritional and health information is “very/somewhat important” to their primary supermarket choice. People associate credible guidance with eating healthy and sharpening their decisions at the shelf. Fortunately, supermarkets earn a record high 69.5% “excellent/good” score on this execution.

The 22.6% “excellent” component of this measure tops last year’s 19.8%—and is led by single-person households (26.1%), and mature consumers 65 and older (25.1%) and 50-64 (24.4%).

Notably, just one in 10 (10.9%) consider their diet to be ”as healthy as it could possibly be” (up from 10.4% last year). This leaves a vast opportunity for nutritionists and dietitians to help shoppers properly understand smarter eating concepts and build momentum for supermarkets. Questions added to this year’s survey address the relationship between shoppers, grocers and food-health professionals, which retailers only began to develop over the past half-decade or so. 

Nutritionists/dietitians trail only physicians and the Internet as the most trusted information sources—that’s more than traditional media, ratings systems on packages, and other choices. The Lempert Report thinks the personal touch they provide is key to clarifying many confusing messages in the marketplace by giving people an available “check with the experts” source.

If consumers could access nutritionists/dietitians for individual help, they’d mostly seek: “general guidance on a balanced diet” (20.2%), “general guidance on foods that give good nutritional value for the dollar” (16.6%), “best foods for my specific health condition” (9.9%), and “label reading, including ingredients and nutritional claims” (9.2%). Some would pay for services specifically tied to individual wellness goals, weight loss, and best and worst foods for specific health conditions.

Almost three consumers in 10 (29.8%) would willingly pay for these services. Closer to four in 10 (36.4%) say discounts on certain foods would move them to pay for nutritionist/dietitian services.