Consumers are ‘overwhelmed’ by ‘confusing’ gut health marketing, Danone finds

By Teodora Lyubomirova

- Last updated on GMT

The research found that a third of those surveyed feel overwhelmed by the amount of gut health information they receive. Image: Getty/	Brothers91
The research found that a third of those surveyed feel overwhelmed by the amount of gut health information they receive. Image: Getty/ Brothers91

Related tags Gut health Nutrition Probiotic microbiome Yogurt

The maker of Activia tells us what matters most when it comes to effectively communicating information about gut well-being to consumers.

A consumer study commissioned by Danone Canada found just how seriously confused shoppers are about gut health.

The company behind probiotic yogurt brand Activia discovered that 33% of the respondents feel overwhelmed by the amount of gut health content they see, with more than half (52%) of 18 to 34 year-olds stating they want to improve their gut health but don’t know how.

The research also showed that many Canadians did not understand the impact of the gut microbiome on their general wellbeing, even though the vast majority (93%) said they consider their gut health when choosing what food to eat.

“We aim to tackle the growing volume of confusing information about gut health,” Marie-Andrée Jauron, Activia brand manager, told us. “Canadians want clarity on the tangible steps they can take to support gut well-being and track their progress - which has proven so important to one's overall health. We feel it is our responsibility as leaders in this space to launch informative and innovative tools for Canadians on how they can continue improving their health through food and showing the power of yogurt.”

To address this demand for clarity on the topic, Activia Canada launched the Gut Health Tracker, an online tool that allows consumers to estimate how healthy their gut is by answering 29 questions about their diet, sleep, stress, and activity levels.

“[The tool] provides a personalized percentage score out of 100, with expertly curated advice based in scientific research on maintaining or improving this gut health score over time,” Jauron said.

How is gut health information reaching global consumers?

A 2023 academic study (see ‘Sources’ at the end of this article)​ that explored gut health perceptions as expressed by Australian adults revealed that consumers were most likely to look for information and nutritional advice on social media platforms. That study also found that consumers questioned health claims on food labels, advertising and government platforms.

The role of misleading gut health information was also investigated in a 2022 cross-sectional study of YouTube videos about the gut microbiome. The researchers found that most consumers would prefer to watch content made by nonmedical professionals, such as science educators, even though content by recognized institutions like universities and charities provided more accurate information. 

The researchers also found ‘a significant degree of variation in the quality of health-related YouTube videos on the gut microbiome’ as well as ‘little correlation between viewership and information quality, reflecting a mismatch in public engagement and discernment of good-quality health advice from misinformation’.

Meanwhile, a 2021 study analyzing press articles published for American and Canadian audiences found that the press ‘typically hype the microbiome’s impact and popularize gut health trends while only offering a little in the way of communicating microbiome science’.

Cutting through the noise

As consumers continue to face an abundance of gut health-related information and some struggle to make sense of it, how can brands effectively get their message across?

“We believe that the key to marketing gut health products without overwhelming consumers is to provide clear, actionable, and scientifically-supported information,” Activia’s Marie-Andrée Jauron explained. “That's why we've developed tools like the Gut Health Tracker, which provides personalized advice based on individual lifestyle habits. By presenting information in a digestible and engaging manner, we can empower consumers to make informed decisions about their gut health, without feeling overwhelmed.”

Turning perceptions into actions

But understanding the importance of gut wellness and how to maintain it through lifestyle choices is just a small part of a bigger puzzle.

The next step is to turn these insights into actions.

Danone Canada’s survey revealed that 79% of consumers believe they follow a balanced diet – but in reality, Canadians’ health is far from stellar.

Population-based research that studied obesity trends in Canada from 2005 to 2018 discovered that the prevalence of obesity increased significantly during the period, with 1 in 4 adults living with obesity in 2018. And since poor diet is a major cause of chronic disease, a 2019 study estimated that Canadian’s poor dietary choices were costing the Canadian economy around CAD$16bn per year in direct and indirect costs (around US$11.5bn in current currency).

All this suggest that there is more to be done, Activia’s brand manager told us. “Beyond just educating consumers, food brands have a role in making healthier choices more accessible and attractive,” Jauron said.

“We believe in providing continuous support to help consumers build and maintain healthier habits in the long term, recognizing that behavior change is a journey.”



Gut health, the microbiome and dietary choices: An exploration of consumer perspectives.
Authors: Williams GM, Tapsell LC, Beck EJ.
Published: Nutr Diet. 2023 Feb;80(1):85-94.
DOI: 10.1111/1747-0080.12769

Misinformation About the Human Gut Microbiome in YouTube Videos: Cross-sectional Study
Authors: Chidambaram S, Maheswaran Y, Chan C, Hanna L, Ashrafian H, Markar SR, Sounderajah V, Alverdy JC, Darzi A
Published: JMIR Form Res. 2022 May 16;6(5):e37546.
DOI: 10.2196/37546

‘Gut health’ and the microbiome in the popular press: a content analysis
Authors: Marcon AR, Turvey S, Caulfield T
Published: BMJ Open 2021;11:e052446.
DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-052446

Trends in obesity across Canada from 2005 to 2018: a consecutive cross-sectional population-based study
Authors: Ellina Lytvyak, Sebastian Straube, Renuca Modi, Karen K. Lee
Published: Apr 2022, 10 (2) E439-E449
DOI: 10.9778/cmajo.20210205

Economic Burden of Not Complying with Canadian Food Recommendations in 2018
Authors: Loewen OK, Ekwaru JP, Ohinmmaa A, Veugelers PJ. Published: Nutrients. 2019 Oct 20;11(10):2529.
DOI: 10.3390/nu11102529

Related topics Markets Dairy

Related news

Follow us


View more