Protein has recently benefited from growing consumer interest around the globe. In light of the increasing focus on protein as an ingredient, NZMP embarked on market research to understand consumer attitudes and behaviours in five key markets; United States, United Kingdom, Japan, China, and Indonesia – each at a different stage of maturity in terms of protein consumption.
We were delighted to share just a few of our findings at Protein Now. These have been summarised below:
1 . Consumers value protein for maintaining overall health and wellness
Awareness of protein is high across all markets despite different stages of maturity.
Protein awareness levels were also similar to awareness of other nutrients like carbohydrates and calcium. However compared to other nutrients, protein was ranked amongst the top for maintaining overall health and wellness.
2 . There is no one size fits all messaging for protein.
Consumers in each market have different perceptions about benefits that protein offers. For example:
- In Indonesia, an early stage market, consumers have a tendency to associate protein with maintaining general body wellness rather than specific functional benefits.
- In China, a later stage developing market, there is a higher awareness of protein’s core benefit, yet perceptions are still fragmented. The strongest associated benefits of protein by Chinese consumers were a provision of ‘energy or stamina’ and ‘muscle growth and development’ – important for achieving better physique and height.
- In developed markets, protein benefits are more strongly linked to sports nutrition.
3 . Protein from animal sources is considered best; this gives dairy protein credentials.
- Despite varying perceptions about protein benefits, different markets had similar views on the best protein sources. These views are closely linked to traditional or cultural beliefs, such as the idea that animal sources (including dairy) are more ‘robust’ or ‘rich’ in nutrients than plant sources.
Dairy’s credentials as a protein source are highlighted through its selection within the top six sources mentioned across the markets. Other common sources identified by consumers included meat, fish, eggs, poultry, soybeans, and seeds.
A lack of preference for protein sources is driven by a combination of 1) a lack of understanding of the key differences between animal and plant based proteins, 2) an aim to achieve a balance through a combination of animal and plant sources.
4 . Nutrition is important, but convenience and taste still drive protein source selection.
- Despite a strong concern for nutrition, increasingly busy lifestyles mean protein sources selection is driven by ease of consumption, availability, and accessibility for the entire family.
- These drivers highlight the opportunity for increased protein inclusion in packaged foods for on-the-go eating occasions. In markets where the protein is associated with sustaining energy consideration should be made of formats suitable for consumption throughout the day.
- Taste is the other top consideration when choosing protein sources. This serves as a reminder of the importance of sensory experience even when consumers are pursuing health and wellness.
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About the research.
The research was conducted in Q1 2017 across 5 countries – Indonesia, China, Japan, UK, and US. Survey respondents represent a nationally representative sample of the online population in each of the countries who are at least aware of protein. Around 750 respondents were included in the survey from each market. ABN Impact conducted the survey online.
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