According to a new survey from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the majority of American consumers are concerned about the safety of dietary supplements (96 percent), personal care products, and cosmetics (95 percent). For all three products, consumers' main concerns were unsafe and untested ingredients, untrue claims, contamination and spoiled or expired products.
David Trosin, general manager of NSF International health Sciences Certification, said there was a clear trend in health and wellness where consumers increasingly expect retailers to provide strong data support and persuasive product marketing for the products they sell. To increase consumer trust in retailers' products, 97 percent of respondents said retailers should visit and inspect manufacturing facilities that manufacture dietary supplements, personal care products and over-the-counter (OTC) medications.
While 85 percent of consumers want retailers to test the health products they sell, only 32 percent of respondents believe retailers actually do so. Currently, most major retailers require brands to display proof of product quality in some form, whether through independent assurance of GMP compliance, independent laboratory testing of the product, or both.
Improve product "trust"
As highlighted by Innova Market Insights on 2021 industry trends, transparency is critical to building consumer trust and ensuring repeat purchases. From a lack of research on herbal supplements to turmeric extract's failure to pass quality tests to concerns about the potency of alpha-lipoic acid, consumers are calling for safer ingredients and products in the market. During the pandemic of the past 18 months, 56% of consumers surveyed said the COVID-19 pandemic has made them more concerned about the safety of dietary supplements, personal care products and over-the-counter medications.
According to the results of the survey of 1,000 US consumers, independent certification by health and safety organizations would lead 62 per cent of respondents to trust healthy products more. Forty-two percent of respondents said expert endorsement assuaged their concerns, followed by reputable retailers (41 percent) and online reviews (34 percent).
Interestingly, 17 percent were satisfied with social media reviews and celebrity endorsements. A Safe Food study in June noted that healthy eating discussions on Twitter are dominated by non-health professionals because of a lack of active participation by health professionals and scientific experts on social media.
Consumers still need to work hard
While consumers are concerned about product safety and quality, surveys show consumers are less willing to do their own research.
Notably, only 48 percent of respondents said they study claims for dietary supplement products, while only 39 percent said they independently study claims for personal care products and OTC products.
Nearly half (47 percent) of consumers are more likely to research a Hollywood movie than a promotion for health food and other health products. Seventeen percent of respondents said they were more likely to read Facebook's terms and conditions than ingredient labels for dietary supplements, personal care products and products sold online. However, some consumers, such as men earning more than $90,000 a year, those with children and those between the ages of 23 and 35, may require laboratory testing for dietary supplements, personal care products and over-the-counter medications.