76% of UK consumers think food, drink and retail brands should be providing health content

More than three quarters (76 per cent) of UK consumers believe food, drink and retail brands have a responsibility to provide health content according to the latest study from Newscred.

The ‘Health and the High Street’ report, based on a study of 2,000 consumers, showed that the UK public expects food, drink and retail brands to help combat the nation’s health problems such as obesity.

Almost half (48 per cent) of those surveyed citied obesity as the UK’s number one health problem that brands could combat with content, with other issues including heart disease and cancer.

Sadie Crabtee, digital engagement manager for Prostate Cancer UK, told The Drum the charity’s content strategy aims to speak “directly to men” with the kind of content they would want.

“We partnered with the Football League and worked with football fans and bloggers to reach thousands of men with light-touch health messages embedded in articles about sport - and when we've focused in on individual clubs, like with our partnership with Millwall, we've even had men tell us that what they learned saved their lives,” she said.

“Our Men United campaign began in January 2014 with a signup mechanism that was itself a successful piece of content marketing. Men got to take an online quiz to test their tactical know-how in the fight against prostate cancer... for this year’s campaign, we prioritised engagement and creating a stronger relationship with supporters after they sign up.

“Following on last year’s success, we built our campaign around giving men great content they'll want to share and use to connect with their friends. We want men to do what they already like to do with their mates, but do it to help beat prostate cancer and keep those friendships alive.”

Of those surveyed 41 per cent said content about fat and sugar content would be the most useful health material from brands and 47 per cent added that they had become more health conscious in the past 12 months. However, only 27 per cent said they felt informed regarding health issues.

Helena Lang, editor-in-chief of Sainsbury’s magazine, said that as the flagship title for the retailer “content is always well balanced with more indulgent treats sitting in the title alongside the latest nutrition trends”.

“I have to be sure that all the advice the magazine gives is based on sound science and from reputable sources. This is a responsibility that I and the editorial team take very seriously and one that distinguishes us from other paid for glossy food and lifestyle titles,” she added.

“Naturally all of our recipes have their nutritional value clearly outlined. These include the calorie count, fat content, protein content, and amount of fibre, amount of carbs, amount of sugars and amount of salt. All of which are useful – and in some cases essential to those with specific health problems or who follow specific dietary styles.”

Newscred chief executive officer, Shafqat Islam, commented: “Like it or not, some of the biggest changes to how UK residents are managing their health - as well as being informed and educated about it – are down to brands operating in the closely-related industries of retail, food and drinks, and we at NewsCred are expecting to see more of this in 2015.

“However, the challenges of trust and content credibility prove that the journey from brand to publisher is not an easy or a quick one, regardless of what sector you operate in. But the challenge is far from insurmountable. Progress is achievable by understanding what consumers place their trust in and analysing how you can translate that into trust in your brand - and content. We hope that 2015 will be the year brands rise to this challenge.”

Despite a generally positive reaction to branded health content UK consumers do question brand’s agenda. 61 per cent said they felt brands were only offering it as part of a marketing strategy and 53 per cent said they were sceptical about it with Brits preferring to trust the advice of GPs, the NHS, newspapers and magazines.

Search The Drum Jobs

Explore the best jobs in Marketing and Media industries
View all open jobs

Gillian West

Gillian West is The Drum’s social media manager and works to ensure The Drum’s content reaches followers across platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram in an engaging, relevant and timely manner. Based in Glasgow, she has been actively involved in building The Drum’s Creative Works brand for over three years now and has interviewed major creative figures including Rankin, Peter Souter, Rosie Arnold, Bob Greenberg and Vicki Maguire. During her time at The Drum she has attended events such as Cannes Lions, the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Art Director’s Club Europe, D&AD and more.

All by Gillian