Sugar Reduction for Healthy Believers

The fact that sugar reduction can be a complex matter may not come as a surprise. There are many things to consider. But it does not stop at chemical processes, trying out flavours and combinations of different ingredients. Sugar reduction is different for different people. Being aware of this is the key to reaching the right target audience.

5 May 2020 •

Different peo­ple have dif­fer­ent rea­sons why they want to reduce their intake of sug­ar (if they want it at all). In this arti­cle, we will take a clos­er look at the rea­sons of those we described in two pre­vi­ous arti­cles as ‘healthy believ­ers’. We will once again meet the four sub-groups of healthy believ­ers and look at how their beliefs and ideals affect their pref­er­ences regard­ing sug­ar reduc­tion. But we start off with a short repetition.

What are healthy believers?

The con­cept of healthy believ­ers comes from the Global Gamechangers 2020 report made by the Healthy Marketing Team (HMT) con­sul­tan­cy and brand­ing agency. Together with researchers at Lund University, they have looked more close­ly at con­sumers who val­ue healthy food and drink – with an empha­sis on healthy. They are afflu­ent con­sumers, who can be divid­ed into four sub-groups based on their beliefs about health and what con­sti­tutes healthy food.

What drives them?

Healthy believ­ers are con­sti­tut­ed of four con­sumer groups:

  • self-real­iza­tion consumers
  • eth­i­cal consumers
  • sci­en­tif­ic consumers
  • tra­di­tion­al consumers

Their con­cep­tion of health and food is com­plex. It’s not just about a bal­anced diet and eat­ing some fruit and veg­eta­bles to keep the waist­line in check. No, their beliefs are also shaped by cul­ture, val­ues, pol­i­tics and iden­ti­ty creation.

The ques­tion is whether these beliefs also affect their views on sug­ar, sug­ar reduc­tion and sweeteners.

The self-realization consumer

The expe­ri­ence plays a big role for the self-real­iza­tion con­sumers. The emo­tions that come from a cer­tain expe­ri­ence deter­mine whether some­thing is good, or less good. Knowing and feel­ing flow into each oth­er and are equal for the self-real­iz­ing con­sumer. If sug­ar from coconut feels good and gives the right asso­ci­a­tions – well, then it is good.

They love to seek out and dis­cov­er new and unusu­al things. They strive for nat­ur­al prod­ucts, or at least what they per­ceive as natural.

When it comes to reduc­ing sug­ar, arti­fi­cial ingre­di­ents are regard­ed as the plague. Instead, they are look­ing for orig­i­nal­i­ty and puri­ty, which reflects that they are in a sense a fair­ly con­ser­v­a­tive group. It may feel new and unex­pect­ed, but the ingre­di­ents may be derived from some form of ancient tra­di­tion, wis­dom or mystery.

An exam­ple is the Swedish pas­try choco­late balls made accord­ing to the raw food ide­al where sweet­ness can come from dates. When an ancient and nat­ur­al ingre­di­ent meets an unex­pect­ed food, the result is per­ceived as excit­ing and innovative.

Typical ingredients for the self-realization consumer

Perhaps monk fruit is some­thing for the self-real­iz­ing con­sumer? The extract from Monk fruit is called mogro­sides, which are a sweet­en­er with nat­ur­al ori­gin and zero calories.

According to the leg­end, Buddhist monks start­ed to cul­ti­vate this fruit dur­ing the 13th and 14th century.

These monks were known as Luo Han, which also became the name of the fruit, which has since become, sim­ply – monk fruit.

This kind of ancient mys­tery is some­thing that fas­ci­nates and attracts the self-real­iza­tion consumer.

Monk fruit is not yet an approved ingre­di­ent in the EU but is expect­ed to be with­in a year.

The ethical consumer

The next group is the seg­ment with a great con­science. For these con­sumers, health is a vast con­cept that, in addi­tion to them­selves, also includes the entire plan­et and the well-being of humans and animals.

This view is also reflect­ed in the food they choose. They active­ly look for prod­ucts that clear­ly sig­nal good work­ing con­di­tions, con­cern for the envi­ron­ment and cli­mate, as well as the absence of ani­mal experiments.

It has also been found that con­sumers more than ever before care about the food pro­duc­tion chain with every­thing it entails in the form of col­lab­o­ra­tions and sub-suppliers.

A bag of jel­ly beans is com­pa­ra­ble to a small por­tion of pork when it comes to cli­mate impact, accord­ing to the Swedish Food Agency. This con­sumer group is well aware of this.

Arable land is occu­pied and rain­forests are destroyed to pro­duce sug­ar that humans does not real­ly need. There are clear incen­tives for the eth­i­cal con­sumer to reduce or exclude sugar.

But what can replace sugar?

Typical ingredient for the ethical consumer

Stevia is an inter­est­ing can­di­date for the eth­i­cal con­sumer. In addi­tion to being caloric-free and not affect­ing blood sug­ar lev­els, ste­via requires less soil, water and ener­gy to pro­duce the same amount of sweet­ness found in sug­ar. A study of the water and car­bon diox­ide foot­print for ste­via shows a reduc­tion in water con­sump­tion by 92 per cent and a decrease of the car­bon diox­ide foot­print by 82 per cent com­pared to sug­ar beets.

The cul­ti­va­tion of ste­via also cre­ates valu­able jobs for farm­ers in, for exam­ple, Kenya, China, Paraguay and Brazil.

The scientific consumer

The sci­en­tif­ic con­sumer is almost the oppo­site of the self-real­iz­ing con­sumer. It is not the emo­tions that are in focus but cold and uncom­pro­mis­ing facts. The sci­en­tif­ic con­sumer is also very result-ori­ent­ed and wants to see tan­gi­ble results of the choic­es and actions that he or she makes.

Therefore, when it comes to sug­ar reduc­tion, it can be about prod­ucts that are low in calo­ries and have no or lit­tle effect on blood sug­ar levels.

The sci­en­tif­ic con­sumer is a geeky con­sumer who glad­ly lis­tens to experts and spe­cial­ists. From the per­spec­tive of a food pro­duc­er – this is some­thing to behold since it cre­ates oppor­tu­ni­ties to explain prod­uct ben­e­fits on a detailed level.

At the same time, it can also be a dan­ger. You must not neglect com­mu­ni­ca­tion. This con­sumer group is awake and under­stands most things.

Typical ingredient for the scientific consumer

The sci­en­tif­ic con­sumer is result-ori­ent­ed and is often but not always a per­son with an active lifestyle. They look for the best prod­ucts dur­ing or after a demand­ing activ­i­ty such as marathons, cycling or an out­door day in nature. These activ­i­ties often require sup­ple­men­ta­tion of pro­tein, min­er­als and good car­bo­hy­drates, among oth­er things, to max­i­mize per­for­mance and recovery.

Various forms of sports drinks and sup­ple­ments are pop­u­lar, but what is avail­able if you do not want to sac­ri­fice sweet­ness – and at the same time get rid of unnec­es­sary calories?

Erythritol may be a solu­tion. Erythritol is a sug­ar alco­hol that is extreme­ly pop­u­lar in bev­er­ages. If you use ery­thri­tol in com­bi­na­tion with, for exam­ple, ste­via in a sports drink, you can get a prod­uct with zero calo­ries and no effect on blood sugar.

The traditional consumer

Finally we have the tra­di­tion­al con­sumers. They har­bour a dis­trust of the glob­al and large-scale. Instead, it is a small com­pa­ny, farm, or fac­to­ry that gets their atten­tion. It sim­ply feels more unadul­ter­at­ed and genuine.

This tar­get group enjoys food as it was intend­ed from the start. A ‘real’ sponge cake should con­tain ordi­nary, hon­est eggs, pure flour and clas­sic pow­dered sug­ar. It is there­fore con­ceiv­able that there is an inher­ent scep­ti­cism about all forms of sug­ar substitutes.

One might ask if it is mean­ing­ful to mar­ket sug­ar reduc­tion to this group. But there are rea­sons to do so. Even among tra­di­tion­al con­sumers, there are those who strug­gle with being over­weight or hav­ing prob­lems with blood sug­ar lev­els. They need to cut back on sug­ar but do not want to sac­ri­fice the tra­di­tion­al taste expe­ri­ence or sac­ri­fice the small-scale and genuine.

Typical ingredient for the traditional consumer

If we assume the premise that the con­sumer is a tra­di­tion­al­ist with some sort of med­ical con­di­tion, sug­ar reduc­tion becomes a nec­es­sary evil. This is a tar­get group that thinks that sug­ar has a right­ful place in food. It is there­fore impor­tant that the prod­uct is rem­i­nis­cent of its orig­i­nal coun­ter­part as much as possible.

It may require a sophis­ti­cat­ed com­bi­na­tion of many dif­fer­ent ingre­di­ents. Especially when it comes to com­plex sug­ar reduc­tion in, for exam­ple, pas­tries, ice cream and con­fec­tionery. Such a solu­tion may be sweet­ened fibres.

Make the right choice

As you notice, healthy believ­ers dif­fer when it comes to sug­ar reduc­tion. Winning everyone’s hearts at once can be hard not to say impos­si­ble. A bet­ter way is to choose one of the four sub­groups and then adapt the com­mu­ni­ca­tion accord­ing­ly.

And now what?

If you want to learn more about healthy believ­ers, read our arti­cles on them. If you want to learn more about the ingre­di­ents we use to reduce sug­ar, I rec­om­mend the two arti­cle series From seed to EUREBA and Sugar reduc­tion in prac­tice. And don’t for­get to sub­scribe to our mag­a­zine!

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