New Zealanders battle the bulge

New Zealanders battle the bulge

young woman doing crunchesAccording to a new study by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy, nearly three-in-five New Zealanders (59%) consider themselves overweight. Consumers are attempting to take charge of their health – 51% are actively trying to lose weight. This presents an opportunity for manufacturers as half of respondents (52%) are willing to pay more for foods with healthy attributes to some degree.

Eight-in-ten respondents believe ‘they are what they eat’ and nearly 70% are actively using foods to forestall health issues and medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.

“Overindulgence during the Christmas break means many New Zealanders will be putting diet and exercise on the menu in 2015,” said Lance Dobson, Director of Retail, Nielsen NZ. “Of the Kiwis trying to lose weight, 80% are looking to change their diet in order to reach their goal. Given the high interest in getting healthier, there’s an opportunity for suppliers and retailers to better align their offerings to consumer needs and desires for innovative, tasty foods with health benefits.“

The Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey polled 30,000 online respondents in 60 countries to identify how consumers feel about their body image and the steps they’re taking to get healthier.

Which healthy attributes are consumers looking for? When it comes to the foods we eat, consumers are going back to the basics. Respondents were asked to rate health attributes from very important to not important in their purchase decisions. The top desirable attributes are natural and minimally processed. Foods that are low in sugar or sugar free are considered very important by 26% of respondents – the highest percentage of the 27 attributes in the study. In addition, a quarter of respondents say they seek products with no artificial colours (25%) and look for foods made from vegetables or fruits (25%).

New Zealand consumers believe health attributes in the foods they eat are important, but are they willing to pay more for the benefits they provide?

Dividing respondents into four buckets of spending intent, the highest percentage are only slightly willing to pay for health claims – an average of 36% across 27 attributes included in the study. About a third (30%) are moderately willing to pay a premium , followed by 23% who are not willing and 13% who are very willing.

For most attributes, there is a gap between the percentage of respondents that say a health attribute is very important and the percentage that are very willing to pay a premium. For example, a quarter of respondents (26%) say low sugar or sugar free is very important in the foods they purchase, but only 14% are very willing to pay a premium for these products – a 12-percentage point difference (see chart).

There are notable exceptions to this. Fourteen percent say organic is very important to them and 16% are very willing to pay a premium. There is a similar case for gluten free, eight percent say gluten free products are important and 17% are very willing pay a premium price.

Dobson adds, “To maximise your odds for new product success you must offer true innovation. Your product must stand out versus the competition in a substantial way, providing benefit-driven differentiation, which appeals to New Zealand shoppers.”

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Health & Wellness Survey was conducted between Aug. 13 and Sept. 5, 2014, and polled more than 30,000 consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behaviour of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA, and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit

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