Last year to celebrate World Bee Day 2021, Vitafoods Insights looked at the importance of bees to the ecosystem and commercial opportunities for the nutraceutical industry.
The health benefits associated with honey consumption are well defined in the literature, but what drives consumers to consume honey is not yet fully understood. To understand what drives consumers to purchase honey, researchers from the University of Turin in Italy conducted a study on Italian consumers, offering insights into consumer behaviours from an econometric perspective (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-09-2021-0992).
Researchers distributed a survey to consumers in Northern Italy face-to-face to discover more about consumer drivers to consume honey for its health benefits. Researchers divided the cohorts based on age: Millennials, Gen X, and an ‘Older Gen’ cohort that combined Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. The average time per interview was about 10 minutes, with data collection between the end and beginning of 2018 and 2019, respectively. A total of 640 interviews were completed.
The results showed that approximately 66% of consumers consume honey for its health benefits, showing a strong interest in honey's functional properties. Honey consumption for its health benefits increases as age and body mass index (BMI) each increase. Researchers further noted "younger consumers show a greater propensity towards honey consumption for health purposes.” Further, consumers with lower BMI values have a higher interest in the nutraceutical properties of honey.
Researchers found women are more likely to purchase honey for its functional effects compared to male consumers. Retail size also seems to attract different consumers, with those buying honey products from larger retailers, e.g., supermarkets, being less interested in its functional and health benefits. Interestingly, researchers shared that "people who habitually attend farmers' markets consume honey more often because of its properties."
Other factors influencing consumers' purchase behaviours toward honey include colour, and organic certification. Researchers found "organic certifications" positively impact consumers' purchasing decisions. "Indeed, quality labels and GIs labels (with their specific quality and traceability requirements) are increasing their importance in the eye of honey consumers," researchers added.
The current study was limited by origin and sample size, focusing only on consumers from Northern Italy. Nevertheless, brand owners and producers can thrive for the best market positioning by understanding better consumer drivers.