Monday, June 28, 2010

Is This What Gluten-Free Consumers Want?

Natural Products Insider just posted an interesting article, "Special Needs of the Gluten-Free Consumer".  They identify eight things that gluten-free consumers want.  Some are accurate and identify key needs, like cheaper products, clear labels, and certified gluten-free products.  However, based on things I encounter in the gluten-free social media world, some statements seem inaccurate.

"Surprisingly, nutrient awareness was not strong among gluten-free consumers. Some concede a need for more fiber, but most are largely unconcerned about the need for more whole grains in their gluten-free diet."

It seems that gluten-free consumers are indeed very concerned about nutrition.  The article mentions that consumers are looking for convenience items, but what I seem to encounter the most is the request for healthy convenience.

The below statement seems outdated. Perhaps when the interviews began one year ago, this was the case. I think the response would be different today, especially if they utilized social media to conduct the interviews.

"But consumers still want higher quality products. Consumers would love to have moister, more flavorful, softer baked goods. Some gluten-free breads are beginning to satisfy these needs. But consumers concede they would rather not eat bread than eat most gluten-free breads."

Thanks to Udi's and Rudi's, there are now good gluten-free breads in addition to the ones that many bake themselves.  Joan's and Udi's make great bagels. I could continue to name good products. One thing is clear - there are many yummy soft-baked goods.  I would say that gluten-free consumers are looking for nutritious and unique products. Combine that with convenience, great taste, safe manufacturing, and a cheap price, and you may have a hit!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Are Gluten-Free Consumers Deprived of Good Tasting Products?

Fortunately, there are so many great gluten-free products and gluten-free replacements for almost every gluten food. There are breads, pasta, waffles, and many more foods that taste like gluten. Some are also free of many allergens. So why do companies making new gluten-free products still feel the need to put in press releases or on their website something about gluten-free consumers being deprived of products and that finally they have something to make life better? With gluten-free bakeries across the country, clearly gluten-free consumers aren’t deprived!

Now, I am not talking about one company in particular. I see this often. Even the companies that don’t do this, have slogans about their products being delicious or tasting good. Is that still original? Does that set their products apart from others? Does General Mills need to put on the front of a box below a product that is newly labeled gluten-free that it has the “same great taste”? How do we get rid of this old concept that gluten-free tastes bad?

I think in this market for a gluten-free product to survive it needs to be unique, great-tasting, and affordable. Tell me why I should buy your product. Is it made from healthy ingredients? Is it free of other allergens? How is it different from your competitors? Read some gluten-free blogs, tweets, and Facebook updates to find out what gluten-free consumers want. Don’t market your product by telling me that I am deprived or that my diet is a burden!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Guest Blogger Jenna Drew: Do You Know Where Your Website Traffic Comes From?

Over 60% of the traffic to my membership site, Gluten Free Bloggers Network, comes from referring websites. Let me say that again - over half of my website traffic comes from referring websites! It’s hard to believe, but it is true.

Twitter alone is responsible for 25% of my website visits over the past month. Facebook currently accounts for around 5% of my website’s traffic. From these results, you could say that I am a firm believer in social media. No, that’s not because of the hype around social media right now. I believe in social media because of the results I’ve seen.

One of the most important steps to growing your website with social media is simply understanding exactly where visitors find your website. To accomplish this, I personally use Google Analytics to track this data on my website for two reasons:

1.) It’s free (Do I need a better reason?)
2.) It’s easy to use and probably better than a lot of the tracking you would pay for!

Once you gain a basic understanding about where your website traffic is coming from, you can then spend your time more productively by putting more of an emphasis on your most rewarding social media outlets. When I discovered that 25% of my traffic was coming from Twitter, I just spent more time building relationships, interacting, and tweeting.

My favorite thing about Twitter is the ability to find and connect with the people you are looking for and other gluten freebies! From a quick search, you can find everyone on Twitter who is talking about gluten-free! Twitter was simply my “MVP” or “Most Valuable [Social Media] Platform”. You may find that Facebook or Digg are generating the most traffic for your website. Maybe you understand and enjoy using other social media such as Delicious or the new Propeller.

Just find a system that works for you and stick with the media. Remember, social media is all about how you interact with it. If you create a username for every social media outlet available online you will find yourself just trying to stay above water! Find what you enjoy and start connecting with other gluten-free members of the online community!

Jenna Drew, editor of and founder of Gluten Free, has been eating a strict gluten-free diet since April 2009. As a member of the Celiac Sprue Association, Celiac Disease Foundation, and the Gluten Intolerance Group, Jenna is very active in the celiac community, and she contributes to several dedicated gluten-free blogs and newsletters. Jenna was named a Celiac Awareness All-Star in March by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Contact Jenna at
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