New food products are often launched into the marketplace with hefty advertising budgets. And this year, stevia, an ‘all-natural and calorie-free’ sweetener has arrived as a stand-alone product and as an additive to food and beverages thanks to FDA approval in late 2008. Sales of stevia are on tap to exceed $100 million by year end. The sweetener comes from a Latin American plant that does not pose the same dangers to health as refined sugar. Stevia’s licorice aftertaste has been diluted and mixing the sweetener into other flavorings has made it more acceptable to the mass consumer palate. At least one Mintel analyst believes additional marketing is necessary to increase stevia’s total potential sales of $2 billion by 2011.
Analyst David Browne bases his remarks on the following consumer survey data about stevia:
- Consumers who aren’t familiar with the name: 70%
- Consumers who have no interest in trying stevia: 62%
- Consumers who believe the product is unsafe: 11%
Browne also believes that 1 in 4 consumers could be convinced to try products containing stevia but that manufacturers must ‘get the word out’. The product’s eventual success may come about as a result of its health appeal and proper positioning in the marketplace.[Sources: Stevia market to break $100 million this year, Mintel release, 9.21.09; Voiland, Adam. The Zero-Calorie Sweetener Arrives, U.S. News and World Report]