New research has revealed that consumer spending on gluten- and wheat-free products is heavily based on trust, rather than price, promotion or advertising, according to Dr Schär UK.

The gluten- and wheat-free specialist commissioned the research as part of a focus group study, whereby consumers were questioned about their shopping habits and what they wanted from the sector. It revealed that many consumers had taken so much care finding a product that was right for them, that they were unlikely to be tempted by new products or promotions.

Dr Schär said it showed that their loyalty to products outweighed that of brands and manufacturers, with many of the gluten-free consumers choosing to buy products on their taste, quality and ingredients, rather than price and brand.

There were four common reasons given for purchasing free-from food: convenience, key staples, favourites and kids. Many consumers admitted that they often bought products that ensured their families and children on a specialist diet did not feel marginalised at mealtimes, said the firm.

Poor packaging, which left the consumer unsure if a particular product was suitable for them, was also highlighted as an issue that put consumers off trying new products.

Retail brand manager Emma Herring said the research served as an important insight into the changing gluten-free consumer and their purchasing behaviour. “Many gluten- and wheat-free consumers have learnt instinctively not to trust new products and so rely on heritage products and brands that they know well.”

“Respondents suggested a universal colour-coding system to be worked across all free-from brands to help make it easier to see whom each product was suitable for,” reported Dr Schär.

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