Who said print media is dying? According to a new study conducted by RMIT University and GS1 Australia, consumers trust printed labels far more than electronic sources of information such as social media and smartphone applications.
The study explored what information consumers look for when shopping for food products and the channels they trust to deliver this information.
For general product information, most respondents to the study said they trusted printed labels most (64%) and printed brochures and fact sheets (54%). Electronic sources paled in comparison: 37% trusted general internet sources and just 16% for other electronic sources such as smartphone applications and social media.
Despite our attachment to mobile phones, only 9% trusted mobile text messaging services.
“Although consumers are comfortable using electronic technology for other routine tasks, they do not currently trust it as a key media channel of food product information,” said Professor Caroline Chan, who lead the research team from RMIT’s School of Business IT and Logistics.
“It is vital for industry, especially brand owners, to understand why and therefore how we can achieve higher levels of trust in the future.”
The study also showed what consumers consider most important when purchasing a food product for the first time. Nutritional information was most important (70%), then the list of ingredients (66%) and trusted brand (65%).
Sugar and fat are the most frequently checked figures on the nutritional panel, with 60 to 62% of respondents checking these when buying a product for the first time. Only 32% check the recommended daily intake percentage (% RDI) at the point of sale, which may suggest a general lack of understanding about RDI or that it is more important at point of consumption rather than point of sale.
“Printed food labels have been the primary deliverer of food product information for some time, and the survey shows no signs of this decreasing,” said Steven Pereira, GS1 Australia’s Chief Information Officer.
“But as consumers are looking for more product information, the challenge now is to develop credible and reliable electronic sources that can provide a wide range of detailed information about food, which consumers will trust.”
The RMIT-GS1 report can be downloaded here.