Harleysville, PA—In August, WholeFoods Magazine covered a webinar held by the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) discussing consumer findings from their Gluten-Free 2015 Report. These findings included trends and attitudes towards gluten-free from various demographics (Read the original article about the Report’s findings here). New information released by NMI has provided some valuable insight on an aspect of gluten-free that has become very popular, but also controversial: condition management.
One thing to consider from the report is exactly who is seeking out gluten-free products specifically with condition management in mind. Surprisingly, it’s not the group dubbed the “Well Beings,” those who are already well involved and educated on a healthy lifestyle, though 54% did report saying “A gluten-free diet will relieve me of some of my existing health issues.” Instead it is the group known as “Fence Sitters,” those who “wannabe” healthy but haven’t necessarily fully dedicated themselves, who topped the category with 58% reporting. This perspective is also reflected in the type of the conditions these “Fence Sitters” said they were using gluten-free to manage. Heart issues, anxiety/depression, and stress were the top three options, at 35%, 34%, and 28%, respectively. Gluten intolerance/sensitivity and celiac disease made this list as well, but not to the degree of the aforementioned conditions.
While these sector of consumers are looking to gluten-free to try and alleviate conditions they already have, of particular interest to retailers and businesses may be the conditions that gluten-free dieters are hoping to prevent. Out of 26 conditions mentioned by the consumers, acid reflux/heartburn was the most common, with 20% of total gluten-free users and 39% of heavy gluten-free users indicating they use gluten-free products in hope of preventing it. This was followed by indigestion, lack of energy/fatigue, high cholesterol, and gluten/wheat sensitivity. NMI recommends that retailers with a clientele of heavy gluten-free users may want to position these products with more of a preventative focus, to take advantage of this consumer reasoning.