The measurement tool, designed for manufacturers and retailers, is the first product to come out of Nielsen’s and Label Insight’s partnership, which was first announced in December.
“We felt that combining Label Insight’s attribution data and the rich data around the ingredients with our sales and consumer data was a no-brainer on our end,” Andrew Mandzy, director of strategic insights at Nielsen Health & Wellness, told FoodNavigator-USA.
Before the collaboration, Nielsen’s analyses concerned claims on the front of pack (GMO-free, organic, natural) and consumer purchasing trends, while Label Insight collects and tracks ingredients. The combination of data, presented in the new Nielsen Product Insider tool, will connect sales performance and consumer purchasing patterns of products bearing a Universal Product Code with ingredient data.
Tracking alternative sweeteners in the juice category
The two firms' announcement comes around the time of much anticipation and preparation for FDA's new nutrition panel and GMO-labeling requirements. To illustrate how Nielsen Product Insider may benefit food and beverage companies, Ronak Sheth, chief customer officer at Label Insight, used the hot buzz topic of sweeteners in the beverage sector as an example.
“Picture yourself as a juice brand—you’re trying to understand what’s happening in your category in terms of what are people buying, if there’s a shift in behavior, and what’s causing that shift,” he said. “When you have access to [our] granular data, you’ll be able to see that there’s been this tremendous shift from traditional sweeteners to alternative sweeteners.”
While Nielsen’s data tracked the sales performance of shelf-stable juice and drink with ‘alternative sweeteners’ in all outlets combined (a 116% increase in the 52 weeks ending Dec. 31, 2016), Label Insight’s data helps pinpoint whether its products sweetened with organic cane sugar, honey, coconut sugar, or stevia that’s winning over consumers.
‘Brands today are embracing transparency’
Retailers can use the tool to stock their shelves with in-demand products, or introduce products with the attributes consumers find favorable, Sheth said. For manufacturers, the two firms are positioning it as a valuable R&D tool—companies will be able to see what ingredients show up in which brands and categories, and how well these products are performing.
But is there concern that proprietary recipes and formulations will be picked up by a competitor? “If you were to rewind three to four years ago, brands were probably much more concerned about keeping this information private,” Sheth said.
“The reality is that the consumer is demanding new levels of transparency, and brands are reacting to that, because they believe that by being transparent and providing this information that consumers ultimately want and that they’re using to make buying decisions result in trust and loyalty, and there’s a real [return on investment in doing this.”
“We see more than often brands embracing it than resisting it,” he added.