The influence of clean label: exploring transparency, storytelling and smart production

Published: 30-Oct-2023

Consumers are increasingly interested in the background and origins of the products they buy. This is particularly true as they become more proactive about their health and well-being and seek ways to improve their eating habits, reports Kate Kehoe, Marketing Executive at FMCG Gurus

They are specifically concerned about avoiding harmful ingredients and artificial substances. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights reveal that 60% of global consumers consider free from artificial ingredients to be important when purchasing food and drink.

It’s worth noting, however, that not all consumers prioritise their health in their purchasing decisions. Therefore, it is crucial for brands to highlight transparency when providing accurate nutritional information rather than resorting to misleading tactics. 

Consumers value storytelling 

Clean label, at its core, encompasses consumer desire for natural products while prioritising transparency in the formulation and sourcing of ingredients. This transparency allows consumers to make informed decisions regarding the validity of natural claims, which can be subjective and open to interpretation.

In response, brands must effectively communicate their stories in a transparent manner through marketing efforts. This entails highlighting the sourcing of ingredients, the formulation of products and emphasising green and clean practices throughout the supply chain.

By doing so, brands can establish an authentic identity and foster a stronger connection with consumers.

A win-win for consumers

Although consumers are increasingly aware of environmental issues, it’s important not to assume that they are entirely altruistic in their purchasing behaviour.

In other words, consumers are unlikely to buy environmentally friendly products if they perceive there to be a trade-off, especially if these products come at a higher price.

Clean labels and natural products are often associated with being better for the environment. Therefore, any product formulation that aims to promote its environmental benefits should also emphasise the personal benefits, such as better quality and nutritional value.

For instance, of the consumers who say it is important that food and drink are natural

  • 60% believe this because it is healthier
  • 49% deem natural products to be better quality
  • 62% deem these products to be better for the environment. 

Our findings demonstrate that if products meet multiple need states, this will help consumers to see the value of choosing environmentally friendly options without feeling like they have to make sacrifices. 

The expansion of smart production

Consumers are increasingly paying close attention to ingredient lists, placing a greater emphasis on the authenticity and realness of the food and beverages they buy.

This is driven by their desire for reassurance that the products they consume are not harmful to themselves or the environment, particularly as they make connections between wellness and sustainability.

Consequently, it is crucial for brands and producers, regardless of their scale, to adopt the concept of smart production.

This involves embracing regenerative farming techniques that are beneficial for both the environment and individuals, including the producers themselves, as they ensure a positive impact across all these areas.

For instance, FMCG Gurus’ market research highlights that 80% of global consumers say they would trust a company more if they were doing regenerative farming.

This article is based on the FMCG Gurus report: What’s New for Clean Label in 2023.

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