The Role of Celiac Disease in Health Nutrition Marketing

Gluten Free Aisle

4 reasons major HNM brands take gluten-free seriously

A reader of mine recently requested that I write about celiac disease and gluten-free eating. I was surprised at myself for not having broached the subject before. After all, gluten-free is now as common in the health nutrition market as sugar-free or fat-free.

Not long ago, grocery stores were debating whether it was even worth it to stock health foods. Today, Whole Foods is a major retailer, and they now have a section on their website dedicated to educating customers about celiac disease (a digestive disorder caused by an allergy to wheat, barley, and rye) and gluten-free eating.

If you haven’t been paying attention to how gluten-free is impacting the Health Nutrition market, here are 4 reasons you should:

Prevalence of Celiac
A Mayo Clinic analysis that investigated the prevalence of celiac disease revealed that around 1.8 million people in the U.S. suffer from it. They estimate that another 1.4 million are unaware they even have celiac. When you consider these numbers, as well as how many consumers self-diagnose, it is clear that the market is large and growing.

Not Just for Celiac
Now that gluten-free has been shown to help those with celiac, many others, including those with autism, attention deficit disorder, irritated bowel syndrome, and MS, are turning to gluten-free eating. Whether or not gluten-free diets actually help consumers manage those diseases is up for debate, however there’s plenty of data to suggest that people believe they do.

Consumer Demand
According to Datamonitor, U.S. sales of gluten-free food and beverages are expected to reach $5.6 billion by 2015. The boon for Health Nutrition brands, and even some major traditional brands like General Mills, is that the gluten-free label can be applied to a wide and unending variety of food and drink that has always been gluten-free, and innumerable new products yet to be discovered. The sky is the limit.

Moms Make the Difference
These days, moms are more and more aware of the link between diet, allergies and behavior. Many moms choose a gluten-free diet for their families because of problems with celiac, autism or attention deficit disorder. Many more choose gluten-free diets on the assumption that they are better for health in general. This trend is big business, and even restaurants have started offering special gluten-free menu items. When moms speak, marketers listen, and you should, too.

The news here is not just that gluten-free options are now expected of Health Nutrition brands. The gluten-free trend points to a much larger lesson, which is that taking risks is part of the HNM game. This means paying close attention to health news, and understanding the lifestyle changes consumers are making.

At one time, gluten-free products were non-existent, and marketing foods tailored to managing diseases was uncharted territory. I believe there are many more similar opportunities out there, and my advice is to know your customer, so that your brand can be among the first to respond.

Read more about marketing your health nutrition products for unique health concerns:

Marketing Health Nutrition Products to People with Allergies

Marketing Your Health Nutrition Product as Non-GMO

Challenging Consumer Assumptions with Health Nutrition Marketing

photo credit: <a href=””>Whatsername?</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>


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