State of the GF Market, Report 1 - GFTECH report 

This report considers the differences in the Australian and US gluten free markets by analysis of consumer e-demand, or internet searches.

Basic macro economics suggests that markets are governed by principles of supply and demand. It would appear that increased ‘gluten free food’ searches (over the last year) are quickly beginning to be mirrored by increased suppliers of products and services.

While the gluten free production side of the market is well under way in the US and Australia it still remains a niche market with many celiacs unaware that they have the disease. While Australia often follows US trends this article analyses the difference between the countries regarding search habits and therefore demand for gluten free products and services.

Firstly there is obviously a difference in the spelling of the disease in each country. Australia spells it as ‘coeliac’, while the US use ‘celiac’. During this research it was found that while most Australians use the celiac spelling a large number still use the American version. Americans only search for the US spelling.

While Australians look for products that are gluten and ‘gluten & dairy free’, the US does not associate the two.

In both countries people search for topics such as ‘gluten recipes’. While this logically may not seem like they are searching for ‘gluten free recipes’, gluten free recipe sites dominate the search results confirming that this is a ‘learned shortcut’ that people are using.

The top 20 or so terms (excluding spelling differences) searched for by both countries is very similar. As individual terms will vary from month to month it is less instructive to compare individual terms rather than GROUP terms. For this reason the top search terms are group in the following manner:

GROUP Number of terms

·       Gluten free foods = 6

·       Gluten diet = 2

·       Gluten free recipes = 3

·       Celiacrelated = 2

·       Wheat free related   = 4

Group Composition:

Gluten Free Foods: This group of search terms all involve the word gluten free and is to do with phrases with respect to gluten free foods.

Gluten Diet: These are terms that are related to the specifics of gluten free diets.

Gluten Free recipe: Searches and website related to cooking gluten free meals.

Celiac related: For Australia, there four terms considered: two each for the celiac/ celiac spellings. In the US while the same two terms are compared (celiac spelling only), a third celiac related term is included in the total volumes. Except for the specific term ‘gluten free’, the celiac related terms have by far the highest search volumes.

Wheat free group: For both Australia and the US these terms all fall outside of the top ten search volumes for gluten related terms.

Analysis of Search Volumes 

The Australian search volumes are multiplied by ten so that easy comparison between groups for the Australia and US volumes can be made on one graph. The first point is that Australia’s population is near 20 Million while the US is near 300 Million. Thus the US is near 15 times the Australian population and yet the Australian search terms only need to be multiplied by 10 to be very comparable. This suggests that per population Australians have a 50% more interest in searching for gluten free terms.

It is amazing how similar the keyword groups compare for Australia and the US. While Australian and US foods and culture are similar this shadowing of groups is phenomenal.

Although the ‘Gluten Free foods’ Group contains six phrases, it is easily the most commonly searched group of all gluten free related searches in the top 20 searches. The major celiacphrases Group accounts for only half the search volumes of ‘gluten free foods’ Group volumes, however the group is only composed of two terms. This suggests that per phrase, in both Australia and the US, there are is an almost equal interest in people seeking information on ‘gluten free foods’ as there are searching for information on the disease.

By comparison, there is an overall relatively low interest in ‘gluten diet’ grouping and ‘gluten free recipe’ group, as judge by how few deviations of the terms exist. However the three Australian ‘gluten free recipe’ terms cluster together in the top ten of searches and nearer the top of the searches compared to the US terms. Both of these groups could be considered as a niche area and subgroup of what people would find by using the search terms in the large ‘gluten free food’ group anyway.

The ‘wheat free’ group is composed of four terms. Two of the terms are substitutes for ‘gluten free food’ terms, and two are based on allergy related issues. This shows that most people prefer searching directly for ‘gluten free foods’ rather than ‘wheat free’. Also for issues relating to the disease, most people still search for information on celiacs rather than wheat intolerance.

For November the total Google searches for the main ‘gluten free food’ related terms was 316,000 in Australia compared to a little over 3 million in the US. Again this is a factor of 10 whereas the US is nearer 15 times more populous than Australia.

If the population of the US is considered to be approximately 300 Million, and 1 in 100 people are coeliac. That would mean that on average there is one gluten free term searched for every celiac in the US. In Australia a population of 20 Million would mean that about 1.6 searches per coeliac.  

However another article on Gluten Free Pages in the section ‘Articles from Other Sources’ titled “More USA Coeliac Disease Facts” suggests that different races have difference susceptibilities to acquiring the disease, which in the US would reduce the overall rate of CD to 1 in 133. Even if this is so, CD typically has very low rates of diagnosis. In fact from a recent show we exhibited at in Melbourne, it appeared that there may be as many people who are gluten intolerant or just choose gluten free for health reasons as there are diagnosed people with CD.  

Google says that for ‘Food and Drink’ sites, a benchmark rate of New Visitors is 71% of all visits. From our observations and these facts it would appear that only a small amount of celiacs and gluten intolerant people are searching for information on gluten free food but that they do it reasonably regularly per month.

For more information on gluten free issues and trend analysis, see www.glutenfreepages.com.au

By Bruce Dwyer

GoLeftfield Marketing

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When analysing gluten free markets, the main question that people with celiac disease will ask is “what’s in it for me”? Having an understanding of markets such as Australia and America is fundamental to understanding how many more suppliers are likely to enter the market and so drive competition and choice. If you are celiac or a gluten free supplier, these are two words that you hold dear to your heart: choice and low price. To understand how close we are to a mature market (when maximum competition drives prices down) it is useful to compare several countries and communities within these.

This analysis is based on Google search terms (for the month of Dec 08) used in the gluten free market. As Google usually has a large market share in most countries and also has specific country domains, this provides a perfect baseline to compare gluten free markets across the world.

This article is set out in the following format:

Identification Of the Four Gluten Free Market Tiers

Introduction Comparison Of Communities By Their Market Tiers

The following are available in the full article on our website

FULL ANALYSIS PER COMMUNITY

Statistic Tables for each community

GFP MATRIX: Identification Of the Four Gluten Free Market Tiers

So far four market levels (TIERS) have been identified.

A fully matured gluten free market has not been reached yet due to the low diagnosis of celiac disease even in developed countries. So far, analysis has shown that the most developed gf markets are those in Australia, the US and Canada. Characteristics of the e-demand side of these are a high number of search terms and high search volumes.

Of the search terms used in tier 1 communities, they are typically dominated by generic gluten free terms where the first 2 to 3 terms represent over 55% of the top 50 searches. This is the case in Australia, US (English speaking) and Canada (English). It is speculated that in these countries there are a significant number of celiacs who have been diagnosed for a few years. They originally searched for information on the disease and diets required and now prefer to spend more time searching for generic gluten free terms. By doing so they have found that on the supply side of things products have been amassed in the one place. This means that by searching on generic terms they can easily find large gluten free sites that contain many gluten free products on which they can search internally for specific terms. While generic searches are large, searches on the celiac group are still the second highest and account for over 15% of the top 50 searches. Within this group two terms ‘celiac’ and ‘celiac disease’ typically account for over 85% of all searches.

The next level of market maturity (tier 2) is shown by communities like US Spanish speaking and Canadian French speaking communities. These communities are often smaller than the dominant communities (often English) in their countries but they have first world affluence available to them. They often have under 100 total search terms over a twelve month average. In this example, US Spanish has 17 search terms and Canadian French have 30. The relatively high level of affluence within these communities increases the individual’s chances of being diagnosed and pursuing a often more difficult and costly gluten free diet (as compared with tier 4 markets. These ‘second tier’ communities also have a high search proportion devoted to generic gluten free terms but there is also a higher proportion of searches (than found in tier 1 markets) devoted to finding information on celiac disease such as through celiac diet and/or wheat allergy searches.

The third market maturity (tier 3) is shown by communities such as Mexican English speaking (101 searches) and Brazilian English speaking (100 searches) communities. These communities are much smaller proportions of the country population than tier 2 markets. They are often much more affluent than the main population ethnicity (through education/ employment) or having come from more affluent countries such as America. They tend to not search so much for generic gluten free terms (less than 45%) but have an increase in searches for celiac diet searches and specific food groups. This pattern is indicative of newly diagnosed people (having access to good medical attention). The other main trait of this market is that it includes people who have had the disease for a while and are now seeking specialist gluten free products such as ‘gluten free restaurants’ or ‘desserts’ – rather than staple gluten free foods such as flour or breads.

The lowest developed market (tier 4) is reflected by searches in Mexico (Spanish Speaking) 24 total searches and Brazil (Portuguese speaking) 23 searches. The communities also tend to have very low searches per head of population and may not have access to good medical facilities – often a large rural population. These people have a relatively small proportion of generic searches and a much higher number of ‘wheat free’ and ‘celiac’ searches. While they also have higher search volumes for specialty gluten free foods, rather than bread searches (main specialty in refined markets) or desserts, they tend to search for even more fundamental food staples such as flour and oatmeal. Counter intuitively they also tend to search for cakes and cookies. This is not necessarily related to the countries affluence but is more likely a social phenomenon where providing good food spreads for parties and extended family gatherings account for a large part of their social interaction.

INTRODUCTION 

Higher choice and lower prices will likely occur in tier 1 market countries as more celiacs are diagnosed and search for and buy more products. The development will reach maturity once the growth of the market goes through a point of inflexion in its growth and begins to plateau. Only long term monitoring of this demand can assess where that level of maturity approaches saturation.

The development of the market level definitions (tier structure) will be refined as more countries are analysed.

A practical application of this analysis for celiacs is to see what other celiacs are searching for and how developed the gluten free market is in their own countries. This article attempts to answer the question “what are the characteristics of a mature gluten free market”.

This research and analysis was undertaken to see if there is a correlation between gluten free search profiles of developed nations and how this may differ from countries in close proximity to the US.

A previous article on www.glutenfreepages.com.au showed a very strong correlation between gluten free search profiles of Australia and the US. In the article you are now reading, analysis was refined to include the affect of languages, internet usage, Google market share etc. Where countries use several languages, analysis was performed on English searches and the other local language.

This research was undertaken for the month of December 2008 Google search volumes for Gluten free products and uses monthly averages over a year in countries where search volatility is high and/or search volumes low. The analysis again shows a very strong correlation between the Australian and US Gluten free markets.

One of the first indictors or market maturity is considered to be the number of ‘gluten free’ related internet searches per ‘population divided by 100′. This takes into consideration that approximately 1 in 100 people (diagnosed and undiagnosed) ma
y be celiac.

TABLE: A table showing the number of monthly searches per celiac for each community is shown in the full article.

The Adjusted GF Searches per month per celiac column takes into consideration internet usage, Google market share. The values are most accurate for the first three countries, ‘developed’ nations. These countries have a long established internet usage and Google was able to provide search terms up to its self imposed limit of 200 terms. The search values for Mexico and Brazil English speaking are likely to be inflated due to sparse information on the penetration of English language in these countries and Google’s translation abilities.

The most important concept in this research is the gluten free grouping profiles. As explained below, all gluten free terms were assigned to one of seven groups. The top 50 search terms were sorted into these groups and groups were analysed for number of terms, proportion of the top 50 and the specific terms within each group. While the following pages go into the details of each country a summary of the analysis is:

GRAPH: “Guten Free Product Search Term Group Proportions of TOP 50 terms” is shown in the full article.

Group Composition

The following shows some of the representative terms in each group.

Generic GF Product: This group of search terms all involve the word gluten and are generic in nature, such a gluten, gluten free, gluten free products, gluten free meals.

Gluten Diet: These are terms that are related to the specifics of gluten free diets such as: gluten free diets, celiac diet.

Gluten Free recipe: Terms such as gluten free recipes, gluten recipe, gluten free baking, wheat free baking

Celiac related: These are terms related to information on the disease such as: celiac disease, gluten intolerance, gluten allergies

Wheat free: Terms such as: wheat free, wheat gluten, wheat allergy

Locations: gluten free stores, gluten free shopping, gluten free restaurant

GF Specific Foods: gluten free bread, gluten free pizza, gluten free cakes, gluten free muffins

COMPARISON of Communities by their Market Tiers

Australia, US English, Canada English.

Australian, US English speaking and Canadian English groups had very similar profiles. Each country had the ‘generic gluten free’ group as its main group with the following volume proportions: AUS 65%, US Eng 64%, Canadian Eng 63%. In each case the same ‘gluten and gluten free’ generic terms rated as the top two overall searched terms by volume.

The celiac group was the second largest volume searched by all three countries: AUS (18%), US Eng (21%), Canada Eng (21%). Each category was dominated by over 85% by the terms ‘celiac’ and ‘celiac disease’. Dual spellings in Australia.

US Spanish, Canadian French

The graphs show that these communities are similar to the three above, at least in the proportion of the generic ‘gluten free products’ group.

One of the main things that affects the distribution profile of these communities is that US Spanish searches only comprised a total of 19 terms compared to US English that was capped by Google at 200. Per population of the American English V Spanish community, the English speaking community performed 4.2 times as many gluten free product searches as US Spanish speaking people on Google.

For the US Spanish community, the ‘celiac’ group was the highest volume proportion of any of the countries analysed. While the US and Australia searched for generic ‘celiac’ terms in this group the US Spanish search for ‘celiac allergies’. This suggests a possible different approach to the way each country views celiac disease.

Compared to the US English, these communities also have a stronger interest in wheat issues. While the US English searched for 3 terms in this group it only made up 4% of volumes. The US Spanish searched for only one term: ‘wheat intolerance’ and it made up 18% of total search volumes. These factors suggest the US Spanish searchers are new to celiac disease and the market is immature compared to the first three countries.

The Canadian French speaking community had a similar profile to Canadian English but a much higher interest in the ‘gluten diet’ group and slightly higher interest in GF specific foods. These terms are accounted for by them looking at the specifics of what they can eat, and specific foods of gluten free ‘oatmeal’ and ‘quinoa’. The higher interest in the diet group suggests that they are either more specialised in their searches than their English counterparts or are earlier in the disease diagnosis stage.

Mexican English / Brazilian English

In each community English is a very small minority of the population but is massively over represented in search volumes. As Google has country specific domains in each countries main language this statistic suggest that these English communities are more aware of gluten issues, are more affluent, and potentially represent a more mature search market.

There is a strong similarity between the Mexican English and Brazil English speaking group profiles. Both communities have a significantly reduced generic search focus but a similar increases in GF specific foods and Gluten Diet information. Quite a few of the English speaking people in these countries are believed to either be affluent locals or foreigners (ex pat US).

In the Mexican English speaking community, the highest searched group is ‘gf locations’ and the highest volume terms are related to gluten free restaurants. The second highest group ‘celiac’ is dominated by several equally search volume terms that use three and four word search strings. The third group ‘gf specific foods’ is dominated by searches for desserts. This suggests a split in focus between people newly diagnosed and those who are affluent enough to regularly search for gluten free restaurants and desserts.

In the ‘Brazil English’ community there was an even stronger fascination with gluten free desserts taking up three individual search terms – the first two accounting for 9% of all searches. Coelaic (UK spelling) was the second most searched group and it contained only one term which accounted for 24% of search volumes. The highest specific food searches were for cakes and muffins, whereas in US English and Australia top specific searches were for breads.

Mexican Spanish, Brazil Portuguese.

The profiles for these communities were the most unlike the US English and Australian. The table at the beginning of this article also shows that in raw terms they had one tenth the searches per head.

Mexican Spanish differs from market 1 profiles as much by its large reduction in generic searches as its large increase in searches on wheat issues. In fact three of the top ‘wheat free’ searches accounted for 44% of top 50 volumes. This suggests a community in early stages of diagnosis and discovery. The two highest specific gf food searches were for ‘oatmeal’ and ‘flour’. These non luxury items, low search volumes and focus on wheat free issues suggests a non affluent community searching for fixes to staple food groups.

Brazil Portuguese has a very large population but low search volumes. In fact it has nine times the population of Australia, but less than half the searches on gluten free products. While generic gluten searches were the main search group at 44% (20% less than US and AUS), its first two terms were still the same generic terms. Of most interest is that this community has the highest specific food group volume proportion of all countries. And rather than an interest in food staples, they focus on gluten free cakes (18% of top 50 searches), and cookies 10%. They also search for gluten free flour (3%) and oatmeal (2%).

With the third highest group being ‘wheat free’ and gluten allergies Brazil’s market resembles the split shown in Mexico (English) between lea
rning about celiac disease and enjoying treats. However rather than searching on restaurants, the Brazilian Portuguese interest in cakes may be seen as a cultural choice (socialising and providing family spreads) rather than an opulent choice.

GRAPH: A graph on our website shows the relationship between a tier 1 community (place that is nearing market maturity) AND a high proportion that its top two searches take up of the top 50 searches AND a high number of searches per (population / 100).

MORE INFORMATION:

The development of the GFP MATRIX and market level definitions (tier structure) will be refined as more countries are analysed. The above information is a summary of the full article that can be found at www.glutenfreepages.com.au To find this article, look under the menu tab ‘Articles’, then ‘GFP Original articles’. The full report analyses each community in detail and shows graphs and statistic tables associated with each community.  

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