Omega-3 survey offers end-user insight for brand owners

DSM unveils new consumer data on rising omega-3 use in Europe

According to a new study by DSM, the number of people using omega-3 supplements has increased in certain European countries.

The 2015 Global Consumer Usage and Attitude Study surveyed 11,000 shoppers across ten global markets, and provides detailed insights to enable brand owners to tailor product messaging and reach specific target groups.

The results show that, since DSM did a similar large-scale survey in 2012, evidence of omega-3 use has increased by 4% in the UK and Germany and 8% in Russia.

As part of the study, in-depth interviews were conducted with both existing and lapsed omega-3 users in the UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, the US, Brazil, Mexico, China, South Korea and Australia. The country with the highest proportion of users is Australia, where 38% of consumers regularly take omega-3 supplements.

The study highlights that motivations for purchasing omega-3 vary considerably depending on factors such as age, gender, geography and attitudes to health and well-being, and demonstrates that a targeted approach must be taken to appeal to consumers in specific markets.

At the recent Vitafoods Europe trade show, NBR’s Dr Kevin Robinson spoke to Brent MacDonald, Director, Global Business Development, Nutritional Lipids, DSM Nutritional Products, to find out more.

NBR: What was the motivation to conduct the study and what was the overall purpose?

BMD: Our aim in conducting the 2015 Global Consumer Usage and Attitude Study was to further understand consumer incentives for purchasing omega-3 supplements and to work with our customers as effectively as possible to meet consumer needs. The fast moving omega-3 category is highly competitive, so brand differentiation is critical to success. The results of the study will help to provide detailed insights that enable brand owners to tailor product messaging and reach specific target groups.

NBR: Can you provide any information on how the study was done?

BMD: The study surveyed 11,000 shoppers across ten global markets. In-depth interviews were conducted with both existing and lapsed omega-3 users in the UK, Germany, Italy, Russia, the US, Brazil, Mexico, China, South Korea and Australia. The survey was facilitated by a third party agency and conducted online.

NBR: Briefly summarise the results and comment on expected trends, unexpected findings and what DSM learnt from the exercise.

BMD: The results show that omega-3 use has increased by 4% in the UK and Germany and 8% in Russia, since DSM did a similar large-scale survey in 2012. The findings demonstrate that motivations for purchasing omega-3 vary considerably depending on factors such as age, gender, geography and attitudes to health and well-being. Furthermore, it highlights that there are a number of reasons why lapsed users of omega-3s decided to leave the category, with motivations varying greatly by country. The research demonstrates that a targeted approach must be taken to appeal to consumers in specific markets.

NBR: How will the data be used?

BMD: By using this latest research, we can collaborate with our customers to identify nuances in shopper profile and behaviour to best optimise the consumer experience and product offering across distinct markets. The findings of the study showed consumer behaviour differed regionally; for example, Russian and Italian consumers tend to be more seasonal with their consumption patterns and associate omega-3 with health benefits such as overall health and cardiovascular health. In contrast, consumers in the UK are less seasonal with their consumption patterns and omega-3 is very closely associated with joint health.

By understanding consumer perceptions around omega-3s, we can also help to further educate consumers on essential nutrients and all the benefits of omega-3s including important heart, brain and eye benefits.

NBR: Will it affect how DSM approaches its omega-3 offerings?

BMD: The primary objective of the survey was to provide added value to our customers. We will also use these consumer results to continue to inform our innovation pipeline and existing portfolio offering. Today, DSM offers the most extensive omega-3 product portfolio in the industry.

DSM’s product portfolio includes life’sDHA, a vegetarian form of DHA derived purely from a sustainable algal source, life’sOMEGA 60, the first high potency vegetarian DHA/EPA product available and a wide range of MEG-3 omega-3 EPA/DHA products from fish oil including neutralised products that have no fishy taste or smell.

NBR: What do the results tell us about consumer education, trust in omega-3s and awareness of their benefits?

BMD: In general terms, consumers are aware of the term omega-3 and associate it as something that is good for them. Some markets are more understanding of the specific health benefits linked to omega-3s than others. Furthermore, there are regional differences between consumers and specifically which health benefits they seek and link to omega-3. From a global perspective, it is fair to say that although omega-3 is a well-known nutrient, consumer education is still required to inform consumers.

NBR: Based on the results, are there next steps to be taken and, if so, what are they?

BMD: Our next steps will be to collaborate with our customers to optimise the consumer experience and product offering across different markets, based on the results. We will also continue our active role in educating consumers on essential nutrients. Our wide-ranging campaigns achieving a total of 1.3 billion global audience impressions last year and we are committed to increasing consumer awareness and education further.

The study is part of DSM’s ongoing investment in being the world’s leading supplier of both marine and unique vegetarian based omega-3 ingredient solutions, and is just one example of how DSM provides added value to its customers.

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