Sugar vs. Sugar-free — What Do Conscious Consumers Want?

Posted by Dr. Mandy Hecht on Nov 29, 2019 12:08:55 PM
Dr. Mandy Hecht
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Lifestyle magazines and influencers are calling for sugar-free challenges, and fellow workers are passing up the cake and saying no to sweets. Sugar has suddenly become the number one public health enemy, and for good reason. The consumption of sugar is extremely high. In Germany alone, each person consumes approx. 30 kilograms of sugar per year. The World Health Organization recommends adults should not have more than six teaspoons of sugar a day.

 

Is the sugar content of foods an important factor for conscious consumers? Do you want sugar-free products, or do you prefer to simply reduce your sugar intake? 

Ninety-nine percent of CodeCheck users are concerned about the sugar content in consumable products, although not everyone is equally affected, and it has yet to become a public issue. Interestingly, only two percent of conscious consumers are looking for sugar-free products. The majority of consumers prefer a medium sugar content, while ten percent opt for low sugar. The analysis of user profile settings demonstrates that younger users try more to reduce their sugar intake.

 

A Lower Sugar Content Makes You Happier

Sugar seems to be a critical factor in poor product reviews. The sugar content ranks seventh among the attributes valued by conscious consumers. Compared with taste, the leading satisfaction driver, sugar receives an approval rating of 38 percent.

Although many producers endeavor to find the best solution, they still have a long way to go. For example, in the beverage category, 57 percent of the products have an average sugar content, 36 percent have a low sugar content, and only 7 percent have a high sugar content. The overall satisfaction with sugary drinks among conscious consumers is 42 percent. 

If you look at the sugar content of products across all categories, it is clear that products with a medium to high sugar content generally have a much lower level of satisfaction within the CodeCheck community—a mere 60 percent. For products with no or very low sugar content, the level of satisfaction is 81 percent, and for products with a low sugar content, it is still 80 percent.

How can manufacturers increase the satisfaction of conscious consumers in terms of sugar content? The comments from the CodeCheck community provide important clues.

CodeCheck users welcome the following sugar alternatives: coconut sugar, agave syrup, maple syrup, dates, erythritol (sugar alcohol), raw cane sugar, and dried fruits.

On the other hand, the following properties are frowned upon: added sugar, high fructose content, and artificial sugar alternatives such as stevia and sorbitol.

 

Lots of Flavor and Fewer Calories

CodeCheck data show that the taste of sugar-reduced products is well received by only 32 percent of consumers. The major challenge for manufacturers is thus to reconcile the consumer's desire to cut back on table sugar with the desire for good flavor.

For this reason, the top innovators nowadays focus more on flavor alternatives than sugar alternatives. For example, Kokumi, a Japanese term that stands for "mouth fullness" and harmony, is already described by enthusiasts as "the sixth sense of taste" in addition to sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami (meaning 'hearty'). Kokumi stands for a process of maturation, fermentation, and prolonged boiling or braising of food. For example, soy sauce is produced in a process that can be described as kokumi. Kokumi is capable of reducing the sodium and sugar needed in a dish. There are companies that offer 'kokumi powder,' which acts as a natural flavor enhancer and amplifies sweetness in sugar-reduced products.

Looking for tailor-made insights on conscious consumers for your company?

Then, you may want to try and use CodeCheck Insights, the largest panel for conscious consumers in the German-speaking countries. The CodeCheck app platform is reaching 3.5 million users. Ask users directly and receive informative data and valuable insights into the desires of the discerning and conscious consumers – segmented according to your wishes.
 
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Methodology: All interactions triggered by CodeCheck users are measured. This includes scanning, searching, product page views, comments, voting and rating.

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