A shift in attitudes has helped to foster a culture of preventative care, where many consumers consider it important to prioritize their mental wellness in addition to their physical wellness and take action to deal with stress, depression and anxiety. The strategies that consumers are following in this segment may vary depending on demographic and psychographic factors. The pandemic has also accelerated the market growth of self-care and optimization of mental wellness. The Functional Food & Beverage Report 2020 from the Hartman Group found immunity and general prevention to be the most prominent reasons for consumer use of functional foods, supplements and functional beverages. Mood, energy, and digestive health are among the most common health benefits people seek from foods and beverages. Therefore, adding new functional benefits with scientifically supported ingredients is of the utmost importance. COVID-19 has led to a lot of questions around how the immune system works and how to support it with nutrition. With so many questions around immunity, it can be easy to come across consumer misinformation, illustrating the true power of scientifically validated health products among modern consumers.
A report from Euromonitor highlights: “consumers who live an active lifestyle often seek sports nutrition products to enhance their exercise habits. Electrolyte or hydration drinks and protein or energy bars are the most widely consumed products around the world. Consumers want to give their bodies and fitness regimes additional support, but they do not want to make any sacrifices or trade-offs in their overall lifestyle.”
Different stages of life need require different nutrition
While prevention and holistic approaches are paving the way on this segment, the modern consumer is not approaching it from a discipline perspective. Hedonism remains a must for consumer. A report from Mintel stated: “While ‘health seekers’ believe physical and mental wellness is important, they are inclined to seek fun and easy ways to achieve their health goals, especially through enjoyment of foods with added nutritional benefits. Food brands could innovate with ingredients like millet and flax seeds that add fibre to the diet to enhance the health quotient of categories like snacks and bakery. Including de-stressing, emotional wellbeing, and paraben- or sulphate-free claims across categories like bath products, body oils, and creams could help this consumer group take to a holistic health regime.”
Achieving an active lifestyle has become a focus to prevent non-communicable diseases. However, this can be obtained not just by achieving but by sustaining these healthy habits. The WHO defines adherence as “the extent to which a person’s behaviour – taking medication, following a diet, and/or executing lifestyle changes, corresponds with agreed recommendations from a health care provider.”
Healthy lifestyle adherence
Adherence is influenced by several factors, as listed by the WHO: the social and economic factors, the health care team/system, the characteristics of the disease or conditions, disease therapies and patient-related factors. There is no single intervention strategy, or package of strategies that has been shown to be effective across all patients, conditions and settings. Consequently, interventions that target adherence must be tailored to the demands experienced by the consumer. Since adherence research is rooted in psychology and behavioural science, many different behavioural theories should be considered when tackling adherence to nutrition and exercise recommendations. These theories range from an individual level (such as classic learning theories or health belief models) to an interpersonal level (Social Cognitive Theory, Theory of Planned Behaviour) or even to an environmental level (Social Ecological Model).
Tackling active lifestyles: industry recommendations
The key aspects to considering for companies working on the active lifestyle space seem to be: a holistic and preventative approach to health, scientifically validated claims, awareness of the impact of the product effectiveness based on consumption and behavioural patterns, and personalisation of nutrition and exercise solutions.
Health innovations able to integrate all the above dimensions might position themselves as the preferable option among consumers. Companies should switch their perspective from providing health products, to personalised health solutions from a multidisciplinary approach. What about a health brand that informs about its functional benefits in a transparent way, provides a mindfulness practice when consuming their products and support the consumer progress through an integration with their favourite health management app or wearable device?