In the U.S., and around the world, people have been trying for years to reduce their sugar intake to match nutritional guidelines or the advice provided by health practitioners. For that reason, there are a host of alternatives – natural and artificial – for consumers to turn to.

When asked about natural sweeteners, typically lauded for being plant derivatives instead of chemically engineered, 38% of people said it was at least somewhat important to them to replace sugar with sweeteners of natural origins.

Age was not a factor in the overall importance of using more natural sweeteners, although Gen Z did have a slightly higher number of respondents who said it was specifically “very” important to them. A breakdown by gender showed women as slightly more likely than men.

Cooking, Baking, and Healthy Eating

In a CivicScience survey of more than 2,800 Americans (13+), 44% of respondents said they attempt to replace granulated sugar in their cooking and baking. Among those who do replace sugar, the top substitution was honey or maple syrup, 63% more popular than both natural and artificial sweeteners.

Millennials are the most inclined age group to experiment replacing granulated sugar with something else.

The data indicate people whose health and fitness is important to them (or even a passion) are the most interested in a natural sweetener like stevia.

While their go-to is still honey or maple syrup when cooking and baking, health advocates are the most likely group to say they use natural sweeteners, although at the same rate as artificial sweeteners.

Sugar Crash

Among top brands on the market today, the most popular sweeteners are Splenda (among artificial) and Stevia in the Raw (among natural).

Both brands capture the favorability of younger consumers, but Splenda is by far the most liked sweetener (among both artificial and natural) for Gen Z. Gen Z is also more likely to use an artificial substitute than a natural one when cooking and baking (see above), so plant-derived competitors need to hone in their marketing strategies for the next generation.

In addition, while there is certainly a market for natural sweeteners, it’s important to note the major room for growth. Among people who have heard of sweeteners like stevia, a solid one-third have tried them and liked them, but a near-equal amount have tried them and not liked them. While one-third is a significant amount of favorability for these sweeteners, the rest of the general population are not so keen.