A case of uncovering the sweet side of sugar substitutes.
Considering the increasing health concerns and growing fitness consciousness, relevance of health and wellness products in the market is mounting. How can an established ‘beauty’ brand initiate and foray into the Sugar Substitute category, launching a 100% Natural FDA approved based on Stevia Plant Extract? What will be the acceptance level in the mind of the consumers of this new product?
The major challenge was to go past the defensive walls brought up by consumers to guard ‘their artificial sweetener’ with accusations of being unsafe vis a vis a Stevia ‘natural and safe’ based sugar substitute.
A qualitative approach using Focus Group Discussions was employed. This allowed for different points of views and reactions to the concept was used to throw up category insights. Also qualitative level product testing in a CLT format was conducted. Tea/Coffee was served in which the product options were added sequentially with order rotation. The entire exercise was conducted across metro cities in India.
The sugar substitute category was seen associated with modern, forward, trendy and youthful imagery. The category consumption was well mapped with the beverage consumption as the product is largely consumed with beverages. It was clearly seen that in term of both motivators and taste preference, sugar substitutes are individual based. Because of the personal nature of consumption, targeting consumers through family consumption items (dishes like desserts, pies) may not work in mass media. The market is keen on trying innovative forms — moving away from the tablet form will change the ‘tablet = medicine’ mindset of consumers. While we saw low knowledge of ingredients in a sugar substitute, there was an acute sense of the missing ‘natural-ness’ in sugar substitutes. This clearly paves the way for a strong natural story, as none currently exists in consumer mind.