Mintel: People Still Don't Understand Fiber


While General Mills' Fiber One campaign has by all indications been hitting the mark with its "Cardboard, no. Delicious, yes" campaign, more marketers may need to get on the bandwagon in order to address consumers' inadequate understanding of dietary fiber, indicates new research from Mintel.

Insufficient understanding of the importance of ingesting adequate daily levels of fiber and persisting negative perceptions about the taste of high-fiber foods continue to be significant obstacles for marketers of fiber-rich/fiber-enriched foods, according to Mintel's consumer survey findings.

Nearly one-third (30%) of survey respondents report that they make it a point to eat naturally fiber-rich foods, and 37% say that they can get enough fiber from regular foods, so supplements and foods with added fiber are unnecessary, reports the market research firm. Yet, studies show that most Americans are failing to meet recommended daily fiber intake levels.



"Consumers are more likely to report limiting sugar, fat, sodium and calorie intake than they are to report eating naturally fiber-rich foods," says Mintel senior health and wellness analyst Molly Heyl-Rushmer.

Some of the reasons: 27% still think food with added fiber usually has an unpleasant taste, 22% don't fully understand that fiber is important to health (that lack of fiber is associated with cancers, heart disease and diabetes, for instance); and 25% think that fiber is only necessary for those who suffer from irregularity or other digestive problems.

Men are more likely to express the last belief, and 30% of men (compared to 23% of women) also believe that supplements are just as effective as fiber-enriched foods.

"The way men view fiber is a considerable obstacle for marketers to overcome," sums up Heyl-Rushmer.

The answer? She believes that employing "macho" spokesmen in advertising to "gently poke fun" at these false beliefs could help fiber-rich food marketers convince men that they're in error about fiber.

Heyl-Rushmer also believes that marketers should implement money-back guarantees (aimed in part at getting consumers to try high-fiber foods despite taste concerns) and educational initiatives to address the various negative perceptions and inform consumers about the importance of dietary fiber to good health.

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