In this webinar, we continued our coverage of Clean Label Enthusiasts® and the impact of COVID-19. Supplements and vitamins have been an ongoing topic within our CLE community and the coronavirus pandemic has had specific ideas regarding immunity and overall health management. Earlier in the 2020 we established that about 1/3 of CLE made dietary changes in response to COVID-19; what have those changes looked like? What does “immunity” mean during a pandemic, and what else is part of their conscious effort to protect it? Answers below.
Before we dive into those outcomes, let’s recap who Clean Label Enthusiasts® (CLE) are:
- Classified as a behavioral segment, differentiated by their attitudes and avoidances of products with artificial ingredients and other additives that they believe are unhealthy
- They tend to read ingredient labels and avoid brands due to these concerns
- CLE comprise 32% of the US general population
Grounding ourselves in a formal definition, we compared this to how CLEs define immunity and what they feel impacts their immune response:
|Merriam-Webster||Clean Label Enthusiasts®|
|A condition of being able to resist a particular disease especially through preventing development of a pathogenic microorganism or by counteracting the effects of its products.||· The ability of the body to resist and fight off infections and diseases.
· Immunity is the system that helps you not get sick. But if you do, your immunity helps you get well. Most of your immune system is tied to your digestive system.
· A protective defense mechanism to keep you from getting ill. Eating healthy and adding antioxidants to your diet. Fresh vegetables and fruits provide a healthy immune system.
We see clearly that CLEs draw a conclusion between their body’s natural defense system (“immunity”) and their belief that they may be able to influence their body’s response through what they consume. It’s also apparent that immune-impacting decisions fall into two broad categories:
Some behavior shifts are about protecting that natural defense system; things like:
- Staying away from others (abiding by 6-feet social distance guidelines)
- Wearing masks and/or gloves when out in public (to help prevent picking up germs on their person)
- Exercising more (belief that being in a physically fit condition keeps immunity in check)
- Sleeping more (sleep is the body’s natural ‘reset’ button)
- Washing hands (while always a good idea, this has been a particular call of action during common cold/flu seasons and has been even louder due to COVID-19)
In addition to protecting, CLEs believe there are two key ways to boost an immune response during a specific time period, like this pandemic:
- Improved diet (eating more fruits (specifically ‘citrus’), vegetables, and whole foods)
- Adding vitamins and/or supplements
“I have been eating more veggies and fruits, and trying to stay away from red meat, as much as possible, and taking various minerals and vitamins, for an added boost.”
Focus on Boosting Strength
In early COVID-19 (March 2020), about one-third of CLE mention making dietary changes as a direct action to maintaining their health. In a follow-up survey in present-day COVID-19 (June 2020), that number is consistent; 37% of CLE have continued to monitor what they consume to assert some level of control of their immune response to the coronavirus. (This consistency is one example of the reliability level we see throughout our time spent with this behavioral segment.)
While not all supplements are valid for an immune response; we polled CLEs to identify specific vitamins or foods they believe to be connected to immunity. Out of the 36 presented options, a snapshot on how some of these performed are below:
We also took a closer look at three different options: Vitamin C, Orange Juice, and Oranges. While it’s well-know that oranges contain Vitamin C – how they performed in the immunity associated test indicates that the whole food itself is not as strong as a Vitamin C supplement.
Immunity Association Test Explained:
To gather this intel, we used our Implicit/Explicit Test™ to evaluate how quickly it took CLEs to respond to a binary (yes/no) response for the immunity association. As part of the Modes of Thinking behavioral framework; we calibrate this timed exercise individually to determine the implicit and explicit response. More about InsightNow’s implicit tool may be found here.
During quarantine, we noticed a shift in buying patterns from an in-store purchasing model to online ordering. Part of this shift is due to those under stay-at-home orders and some lack of availability in stores. We didn’t see CLEs “stock up” or “hoard” these important immune-boosting products. Instead, we saw an uptick in online ordering in present-day versus “before COVID-19” timeframes. In addition to their online buying, Amazon and Walmart were the two leading retailers; however, a sizeable portion of CLEs also choose to buy directly from the source in places like Puritan’s Pride and Vitacost and their direct-to-consumer websites. We also saw other all-natural/better-for-environment companies like Swanson’s get mentions for supplement sourcing.
Trust in the Supplement Category:
CLEs trust in who they look to for supplement information about the supplement category was not impacted by COVID: they truest the supplement companies/manufacturers themselves. Most of this confidence is related to an overall belief that as label readers, the supplement category is regulated in their complete list of ingredients necessary to be printed on all bottles/packaging. This combination makes CLEs feel they are transparent in their manufacturing and testing processes.
“Usually [supplement company] information is backed up with research data and professional authorities.”
Some CLE have shifted their dietary behaviors to boost an immune system response to COVID-19. We believe this mindset is likely to continue as re-opening plans vary from state-to-state and the potential risk of a ‘second-wave’ is still on the horizon.
With this in mind, these CLEs are looking for ingredients such as Vitamin C, B12, and Zinc which they believe have a strong implicit association with immunity-boosting properties. In addition to supplements, they may also be looking for specific foods that mention these ingredients as part of their increased intake. Brands should consider highlighting these ingredients, specifically for online product listings, to grab attention of CLEs during this time.
Be sure to download the webinar to find out our final thoughts on the supplement & COVID-19 topic! For ongoing CLE & coronavirus reporting; subscribe to our tracker as we continue the conversation.