Sustainable chocolate: Mid-lifers like quality and ethics

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sustainable certification, cocoa messaging and farmer stories on-pack will appeal to mid-lifers, says Canadean
Sustainable certification, cocoa messaging and farmer stories on-pack will appeal to mid-lifers, says Canadean

Related tags: Consumer protection, Marketing

Mid-life consumers aged 45-54 purchase chocolate regularly and sustainable messaging should capture their attention, says Canadean.

The UK’s confectionery market pulled in sales of £5.3bn in 2013 and the value of chocolate within this is expected to rise 2.7% CAGR from 2013-2018, according to Canadean data.

From a consumption standpoint, the research firm said consumers aged 45-54 (mid-lifers) were becoming more important when compared to other demographic groups.

“Mid-lifers are the most likely to have purchased chocolate over the last six months – 80% did so, compared to just 64% of consumers aged 18-24,”​ said Raquel Perez, analyst at Canadean.

Understanding the preferences among this consumer group, therefore, was “vital for the industry”,​ she told

Sustainable aligns with ‘natural’

Asked how industry could better target this increasingly important group, Perez said sustainability messaging would be important because it played into the broader, important ‘natural’ trend.

However, appealing with simple ‘natural’ messaging would not entice mid-lifers, she said, because only 30% of mid-lifers considered natural important when buying confectionery.

A large majority of mid-lifers, for example, considered natural products those without artificial ingredients. Despite this, Perez said only 16% of British mid-lifers check nutrition labeling and 66% have never returned a product to shelf because it wasn’t natural enough for them.

“This shows that the battle to sell ‘natural’ isn’t as much about ingredients, as being able to sell the concept of ‘natural’ on the front of pack.”

Sustainable certification like Fairtrade or other messaging around sustainability would therefore be important, she said.

“Fronts of packs should be designed to emphasize factors such as the country of origin of the beans, the farmers themselves and their production methods, images of nature to highlight how ingredients are grown, and even going the extra milk on environmental issues by including numbers such as carbon footprint.

“This will help emphasize not just the ‘naturalness’ of a product, but also the product’s quality and ethics,”​ she said.

Beyond the UK?

Asked if this positioning would work beyond the UK market, Perez said: “This trend will be exported to Europe as consumers there are also increasingly concerned about formulations, ingredients and overly-processed food and how these affect both their health and the environment.”

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