Consumers are no longer craving the same old, same old from the food and beverage industry.

In a recent Deloitte study of more than 17,000 consumers across 15 European countries, 64% of respondents said that over the past year “they have become more interested in learning more about the influence of food on their health.”

Meanwhile, in the U.S., Food Business News notes that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking to expand food traceability requirements to provide more context for consumers when they make purchasing decisions.

For food and beverage companies, this shift makes it clear that a new approach is necessary for product detail pages (PDPs) and on-site keywords. But what does this mean in practice? What are consumers searching for, and how can businesses effectively implement new terms to capture customer interest?

What Do Health-Conscious Consumers Care About?

As New Food Magazine reports, health-conscious consumers have shifting priorities when it comes to their food and beverage preferences. A few examples include:

  • Supplements to help manage stress and improve sleep saw a 43% year-over-year growth on Amazon;
  • Interest in regenerative agriculture has increased 138% since 2019; and
  • Health-conscious consumers are also focused on sustainable packaging, with 55% of customers in Brazil and 44% of those in the U.K. on board with new environmental initiatives such as edible packaging.

In-store customers are also becoming more health-focused. Research from SymphonyAI found that health-conscious consumers now represent between 25 and 30% of all grocery store shoppers in the U.S. and Europe.

Regardless of how customers purchase products — online or in person — they care about transparency. According to data from The Food Industry Association (FMI), 81% percent of shoppers say that transparency is important or extremely important to them. In the context of food and beverage purchasing, transparency means providing a full list of ingredients along with any relevant certifications (such as USDA-certified organic) and complete nutritional information.

What Is the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), and Why Does It Matter?

Metrics such as the healthy eating index (HEI) are bolstering the shift to a healthier food and beverage outlook as well.

First developed in 1995, the HEI uses a scale of 0 to 100 to assess how well foods align with recommendations in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. As noted by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the higher the HEI number, the better.

Currently, the average HEI score for Americans is 58 out of 100, meaning there’s room for improvement as consumers look for healthier alternatives. By ensuring that food and beverages align with this index, companies can increase their chances of capturing health-conscious buyers.

What Are Consumers Looking for in Food and Beverage Searches?

So what are consumers looking for when they conduct food and beverage searches online?

In-store, consumers can examine labels in person or ask for help finding preferred products. However, the massive variety of online sellers means that customers generally start their search more broadly and then refine it as they come closer to what they’re looking for.

In other words, if brands and retailers can put the right keywords in the right place at the right time, they can capture top-of-funnel customers and get them heading in the right direction.

Consider recent Google Trends data. While keywords such as “ingredients” and “organic” saw sustained interest over the past two years — outpacing related terms such as “sustainable” — keywords like “natural” have consistently outperformed all three.

How Can Brands and Retailers Infuse Top Keywords Into PDPs?

The more personally relevant and well-designed your PDPs, the better your chances of making a sale.

In the U.S., 70% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy if there are personally relevant images, videos, text, and reviews on a product page, while 50% of French consumers and 48% of those in Germany say the same, according to Salsify’s “Consumer Research 2022” report.

For food and beverage companies, this means there’s an urgency to create PDPs that speak to health-conscious consumer preferences — without making it seem like you’re simply keyword-stuffing or capitalizing on new trends.

By assessing customer behaviors and trends — such as the preference for complete and detailed nutrition information — companies can create product pages that include relevant keywords such as “natural” and “organic” to capture customer attention.

Then, you can build out pages that dive deeply into what ingredients these products contain, where they were manufactured, and how they stack up against metrics such as the HEI.

It’s also critical to create cross-platform and asset connections that help drive consumers to your product pages. This means both accelerating the pace of content creation and pushing this content to multiple platforms including social media sites, industry publications, and company websites to help customers find exactly what they’re looking for.

Capturing the New Food and Beverage Consumer

Customer preferences are changing. To drive sales, brands and retailers must understand current market trends, prioritize popular keywords, and create content that delivers value to health-conscious consumers.

Ready to maximize your digital shelf performance and drive more food and beverage sales? Download Salsify’s “KPIs for Ecommerce Cheat Sheet” to get started.

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