De-risking the shopping experience amidst new HFSS-compliant products

Despite the delay in the implementation of certain areas of the legislation, retailers and brands are acting now.
02 August 2022
Sally Ball

Head of Kantar Worldpanel's Nutrition Service

Unlocking discretionary decision-making for consumers will be a key measure of success for brands and retailers as new legislation controlling the sale of products high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) is rolled out.  

Though there is a delay to controls on promoting HFSS products as multi-buy deals and similar, the new rules will bring changes in October to where these products can be placed in store. High traffic, high profile areas encouraging impulse buys essentially become off-limits.  

But some retailers are already holding off on promoting HFSS products in bundled deals and have shifted the non-compliant products elsewhere in their stores. Interestingly, these early shifts don’t appear to have stifled innovation as brands race to deliver HFSS-compliant products.  

In some cases, the new arrivals are brand new to the range. In others, they are variants to existing product lines. Whatever the mix, the goal is to maintain share in their respective categories or even find growth where new niches can fill gaps made by out-going non-compliant products.  

PepsiCo was an early brand to walk the HFSS talk. In April, PepsiCo’s Walkers announced that by 2025, half their snack sales would come from HFSS-compliant products or from sold in portions of 100 calories or less. They’re spending £35m over the next three years to reformulate or launch compliant products.  

This month, some of their new products rolled out with new-look packaging to showcase the health claims the respective HFSS-compliant ranges now offer.  

And here is where the challenge begins as more products arrive in store and retailers are forced to “rehome” existing products or remove them altogether. Consumers will face changed product lines – they may look different and almost certainly taste different. Concurrently, they will also be witness to new products as smaller brands find retail footholds thanks to their HFSS-compliant characteristics.  

Consumers will need help to make purchase decisions in these categories. Price is increasingly less of a driver due to declines in trade promotion, but awareness of how to shop categories such as snacks, breakfast cereals, ready meals and soft drinks will be low when viewed through an HFSS lens.  

It is not that the average shopper is even aware of HFSS changes; they may struggle to reconcile choosing a new or reconfigured product versus a brand favourite. Discretion becomes harder to exercise.  

“Confronted with more, or new, choices in stores where layouts have also sometimes changed to accommodate HFSS laws, shoppers will need help mitigating the perceived risk of trying something new or looking for an old favourite,” said Sally Ball, our Head of Nutrition Service.  

“In these inflationary times, shoppers increasingly want to guarantee they spend every penny wisely. Trying new products that meet the new guidelines will pose a risk to that spending. Consequently, every effort must be made to help people navigate new store layouts, understand the benefits of compliant products, and get context on pricing for their entire basket.”  

Sally Ball said such shifts were an essential part of a total store and total consumer framework identified by Kantar Worldpanel ahead of the rollout of the HFSS legislation. The framework consists of three elements:  

Mindset - Brands and retailers to make a conscious shift to address the legislation and reimagine their approach across all categories, not just those impacted by HFSS. 

Marketing - Rebalance promotional/media spending to establish more efficiency and higher impact across categories. 

Mission - Position brands and products as leading change for the better. 


Want to learn more? 

Join us on Thursday, August 18, at 11 am for our first webinar. During the session, our experts will provide details on what to expect as a member of the forum and outline a new framework to guide HFSS conversations across the industry. 

Register here now.

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