Cheap yet healthy: Sugar reduction catches up with price in driving Singaporean beverage purchases

By Pearly Neo contact

- Last updated on GMT

Sugar reduction has caught up to become just as important as price promotion in the eyes of Singaporean consumers when it comes to making beverage purchases. ©Getty Images
Sugar reduction has caught up to become just as important as price promotion in the eyes of Singaporean consumers when it comes to making beverage purchases. ©Getty Images

Related tags: sugar reduction, Singapore, Nielsen

Sugar reduction has caught up to become just as important as price promotion in the eyes of Singaporean consumers when it comes to making beverage purchases, according to a new report from Nielsen.

According to data from the Nielsen Share of Throat Syndicated Report 2019​, almost three quarters, or 74% of Singaporean consumers indicated they would ‘look out for promotion in stores to decide on the brand of beverage to purchase’​, demonstrating that price promotion continues to be an important driving factor in the beverage industry.

However, the survey also found that an equal percentage of consumers would ‘actively avoid beverages that are high in sugar’​ – showing that sugar reduction has now become as important as price promotion for Singaporeans when buying drinks.

That said, according to Nielsen Executive Director of Consumer Insights Garick Kea, it is important that both factors be taken into account when trying to market any beverage product

“Price promotion is important as people are buying based on promotion or rather they are very conditioned to promotions that are readily available,” ​Kea told FoodNavigator-Asia​.

“Shoppers are driven by price and taste, and [both are] fundamental in facilitating product consideration.”

These conditions remain similar even for healthy drinks, and failing to account for these factors will considerably decrease a product’s probability of success.

“For healthier drinks, if you are talking about healthier choice symbols, no additives, colouring, etc, consumers are expecting it to be priced affordably. That is also because of the great competition within the market, a lot of beverages are already offering healthier alternative at similar prices,” ​Kea added.

“Unless it has a strong healthier proposition beyond what is currently offered, consumers will not find it value for money.”

In addition, it is important for health benefits to be clearly indicated on product packaging, and for other factors such as convenience and product accessibility to be given due consideration.

“[Examples of making health benefits clear include the] Healthier Choice symbol and making sure there is an easily understandable description,”​ said Kea.

“Singaporeans also seek convenience when deciding where to purchase beverages, [especially] younger consumers who have a higher tendency to ‘Grab and-go’, [making convenience stores a strong purchasing location of choice].

“Key [here for manufacturers] is to ensure the strong distribution of [their] brands, [and to make sure these are] stocked in appropriate pack formats/sizes across various channels.”

How can manufacturers benefit?

In view of these recent findings, the strong War against Diabetes​ campaign ongoing in the country, as well as the government’s recent announcement of a colour-coded nutrition label to be implemented by 2021​ for sugar-sweetened beverages, Kea strongly recommended that beverage manufacturers in Singapore continue to focus on innovating towards sugar reduction.

“Manufacturers will have to focus on low-sugar beverages, [but also try to create] a unique taste that can be customised [to appeal to] younger consumers,”​ he said.

“Innovation should also focus on healthier alternatives for growing categories, for example soy [or other] plant based beverages – [but with the condition being that the] product still needs to deliver on taste.”

Other report findings

Singaporean consumers were also found to favour drinks that are freshly made (67%) and which carry the Healthier Choice Symbol​ (61%).

Bubble tea was also a significant focus of the study, most likely given its popularity in the country amongst younger consumers.

Taste (69%), sugar levels (53%) and flavour variety (44%) were found to be the three most important factors driving purchases.

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