Nutritionists, dietitians gain favor: new NGA-SupermarketGuru research

February 11, 2014

People wanting to eat healthier see dietitians as credible experts who could tailor advice.

Consumers increasingly realize that personalized advice from nutritionists and dietitians – who are more accessible on retail sales floors these days - can be more effective than popular alternate sources.

Findings of the National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru 2014 Consumer Survey Report show U.S. adults giving these specialist professionals more credit than ever.  About 1 in 7 (16.4%) say they would learn about nutrition issues on a regular basis from nutritionists and dietitians.  These pros jump three spots this year to the #4 slot on the strength of this response – behind the Internet, magazines and television.

Nutritionists and dietitians are the only ones among the Top 4 sources to rise in consumer mentions; all the others slid.  Nutritionists and dietitians advance from 12.4% in 2013, when they were the #7 resource, and 11.6% in 2012.  

Moreover, in their search for credible nutritional guidance, and clarity on what they read online, people turn increasingly to nutritionists and dietitians.  They are now the #2 trusted resource, cited by 15.9% of respondents, up from 11.7% in 2013 and 2012.  Research journals are #3 (11.9%, up from 2013’s 10.1%), followed by magazines (8.6%, up from 2013’s 8.2%), and doctors (8.5%, down from 2013’s 12.0%).

Just 28.4% of consumers (down from last year’s 31.0%) say they trust online the most – we think because the Internet presents studies and other information that can conflict and confuse, and leaves unsaid reasons why entities make certain statements.

The greater use and trust of nutritionists and dietitians dovetail with the nation’s goal to eat healthier – and likely reflect confidence in their credentials and performance, relatively easy access, and personalized advice based on follow-up questions by consumers.

Although about half of U.S. adults “don’t expect guidance from a nutritionist or dietitian” (51.1%, up from last year’s 48.7%), The Lempert Report believes this could change favorably if supermarkets made consumers more aware of their availability.   

The rest of America – the other half - that does use such help expects this:  “General guidance on a balanced diet” (20.0%, down from 20.2% in 2013); “general guidance on foods that give good nutritional value for the dollar” (15.5%, down from last year’s 16.6%); “best foods for my specific health condition” (12.0%, up from 9.9% in 2013); and “guidance towards my individual wellness goals” (11.9%, up from last year’s 8.6%).

Nearly one-third of consumers would pay for their services – specifically for: “guidance towards my individual wellness goals” (10.0%, up from last year’s 8.3%); “best foods for my specific health condition” (9.3%, up from 7.2% in 2013); and “weight loss guidance” (8.0%, up from 7.6% in 2013).  Nearly four consumers out of ten (38.1%, up from 36.4% in 2013) say if they were given discounts on certain foods, they would likelier pay for these services.  People willing to pay estimate $25 or less per consult is a reasonable value.