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How Clean Labels influence purchasing decisions


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During a walk through the supermarket shelves, many purchasing decisions are made intuitively and in a few seconds – often even in fraction of a second. What does this mean for you as a manufacturer?

As is known from studies of purchasers' behaviour, approximately 25% of purchasing decisions are made at the point of sale. According to the POS Marketing Report 2016, about half of customers buy in the supermarket more than what they originally planned. Especially for FMCG products, the diversity and interchangeability is so extensive that many purchasing decisions are based on emotions. Uniqueness is a big advantage: The measures expecting to influence the purchase decision must match exactly to the product. The overall concept must be persuasive and consistent.

Healthy products are preferred

It is obviously a good advantage to set the added value of health: Studies across the country show that 'healthy products' are preferred.

A European study of the European Food Information Council (eufic) carried out in the UK, France, Poland, and Sweden shows the following: Consumers automatically consider all products that are labelled with 'does not contain' to be healthier than the same products that are not marked with this label.

The investigation covered four types of labels: 'Gluten-free', 'Lactose-free', 'Does not contain palm oil', and 'GMO-free'.

Consumers automatically consider all products with the label 'does not contain' to be the healthier ones.


  • In France, apart from the labels 'Does not contain palm oil' and 'GMO-free', the consumers seem to be willing to spend more money for the 'does not contain” products.
  • So it seems as if the criterion 'does not contain' is even presumed.
  • Gluten-free and lactose-free products are mainly associated with specific nutritional benefits, while GMO-free labels address instead the safety needs of the consumers. 

The awareness of consumers, however, goes far beyond those four labels. Not for nothing would, according to the study by MMR Research Worldwide, 59 percent of respondents exchange their usual product for an alternative without artificial additives, 56 percent for the product without E-additives and 51 percent for products with reduced fat or sugar content. 

What would the consumers exchange their usual product for?

  • 59% would choose an alternative without artificial ingredients
  • 56% would choose a product without E-additives
  • 51% would choose a fat-reduced or sugar-reduced food 

Clean Label Kaufentscheidung

Transparency creates trust

Accurate and transparent information is therefore the key to the heart of consumers. According to an international survey by MMR Research Worldwide, ingredients rank high in the criteria that go into the final purchase decision: 78% of the Europeans consider their food ingredients to be an important factor for the purchase. French and Italian consumers place the highest importance on the ingredients at 86% each; 89% of respondents from these nations even stated that they consider the ingredients to be 'very important'.

Accurate and transparent information is the key to the heart of the consumers!

In Russia, 84% of consumers consider ingredients to be important or very important, 83% in Germany, 78% in Turkey, 76% in Spain, 75% in Poland, 69% in the UK, and 58% in the Netherlands.

It should be noted, however, that the Clean Label trend in the UK has been already established for some time; based on this, the Clean Label is obviously already seen as a standard.

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The packaging makes it!

Since transparency creates trust, manufacturers can use Clean Labels for information purposes. According to MMR Research, the information on the packaging has a major influence on the purchase decision for or against a product: The back of the packaging – including all information such as the ingredients – is read by 61% of those surveyed in the individual countries. The front side; however, gets 72% of the attention!

Both sides of the packaging are extremely important parts of the decision whether to put a product in the shopping cart or to leave it on the shelf. It is the best option to provide both information about the product and a presentation of the product on both the front and the back side to make it most effective. The more messages given at the front and the rear side, the more credible the product.

The list of ingredients is particularly relevant: As many as 82% of parents consider a short ingredients list important, while 76% of the rest of the population pay attention to it.
Clean Label die Kaufentscheidung

By the way, the most noticed ingredients are sugars, followed by artificial colours, flavours and preservatives.

61% of consumers read the back of the product packaging, the front side is given 72% of the attention!

The following factors are decisive to the purchase of a food or drink: (MMR Research Worldwide)

  • Price 86%
  • List of ingredients 77%
  • 'No Additives' 68%
  • Nutritional information 59%
  • Special health claims 56%
  • Manufacturer or brand 53%
  • Country, region, or origin 51%

What is your story?

Good information, transparency, and storytelling can help to influence the purchasing decision. Based on a good story that really fits the product, it is possible to attach the consumer emotionally. Clean Labelling helps to achieve this!


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Cornelia KerschbaumerAuthor

Director of Marketing & Communication


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