20th July 2021
Joint and Bone Health in 2021
FMCG Gurus have found that there is an appetite among consumers to improve joint and bone health, however, the issue of joint and bone health industry seems to be overshadowed by more noticeable and media-covered health issues. The issue of joint and bone health might become increasingly addressed in the long run by consumers changing their lifestyle choices to become healthier and their diets with this. Consumers are taking steps to prevent health issues before they occur, and so with this trend, the growth in sales of bone-joint assisting supplements could be seen.
Joint and Bone Health
There is a link being made, increasingly, by consumers of Joint and bone health leading to good overall health with a rise from 60% in 2018 to 66% in 2021. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the consequences of poor bone and joint health impacting mobility and quality of life, which has inspired the preventative approach especially with the realization that these issues are only rectifiable in the long run when they appear.
The general trend of increasing health awareness, onset by the covid pandemic will have had some role in causing the increase in joint and bone health consciousness. 61% of consumers have declared taking a preventative approach to health problems by living a healthy lifestyle (2021). Globally, the proportion of consumers interested in products that address joint and bone health problems even if not suffering those specific symptoms was 53% in 2018 and rose to 60% in 2021.
The increased consciousness of consumers about health can link dietary changes to attitudes around joint and bone health. This is a long-term change in lifestyle and dietary habits and will continue to shift in the same way previously witnessed, irrespective of the pandemic. The extent of this shift to healthy lifestyles is mitigated by the attitude/behavior gap and this point is especially applicable to joint and bone health supplements. Consumers are aware of the benefits of proactive supplements, lifestyles, and diets that help with their general health, however, act irrationally to not follow through on their claims.
To take a proactive approach to bone and joint health would require high levels of rationality to action what consumers know is best for their health. A preventative approach would mean addressing a long-term issue and an aspect of health with fewer media coverage and tangible progress. This has led to the number of consumers that will seek out food and drinks linked to joint and bone health lower to 46% (2021). This has shown a slight increase from the 44% in 2018 which is in line with the trend of increased health awareness. The actual statistics for consumer purchasing of joint and bone health assisting products will naturally be lower when the attitude/behavior gap is factored in. The attitude/behavior gap should be an area addressed by food companies that could potentially profit from an increased urgency in the consumption of their products.
A viable strategy to increase the consumption of joint and bone health supporting products is to highlight the adverse effects of ignoring joint and bone health with the worst cases of poor joint and bone health advertised as though they were the effects of living normal lives. This “urgent” and “underreported” narrative would need heavy media traction in order to produce the consumer reaction needed to reduce the attitude/behavior gap and it is likely that the mainstream media would be the best avenue for riling up demand with a potentially responsive viewer base.
Food Categories and Claims
FMCG Gurus research has highlighted the foods where consumers are most attentive to claims of positive effects on joint and bone health. The results found that breakfast foods were particularly effective as it is typical that healthier foods are consumed in the morning. Breakfast cereal companies, smoothie producers, and cereal bar companies have a high potential for increased attention from a consumer base that is more health aware and so these companies should seek to advertise adequately to get this message through. The proportion of consumers who found joint and bone health claims appealing on milk increased from 35% in 2018 to 47% in 2021, snack bars increased drastically from 12% in 2018 to 34% in 2021, smoothies increased from 18% in 2018 to 33% in 2021.
As the day progresses, more ‘indulgence foods’ will be consumed and so with a naturally high propensity to assist in joint and bone health, these benefits, again should be adequately presented to consumers. A rise in the appeal of joint and bone health claims on indulgence foods has been more sporadic, biscuits have risen from 14% in 2018 to 22%, confectionery has risen from 8% in 2018 to 16% in 2021 however yogurt and cheese fell from 28% in 2018 to 21% in 2021. It becomes apparent that consumers view joint and bone health as a secondary issue in the grand scheme of their whole health considerations and therefore want to consume small products that don’t take up much appetite or time.
Consumers are closely monitoring diets by reducing unfavorable ingredients and maximizing favorable ones. This could have the effect of cutting out products that advertise benefits of joint and bone health and so, to avoid this, there may be two possible solutions. Creating a sense of urgency among consumers to avoid joint and bone health complications in the long term and potentially the short term. There’s also the possibility of changing products’ ingredients or cleansing products of their old image of containing unfavorable ingredients. Marketable appeasement of the increasing demand for joint and bone health products is through heavy marketing through calcium. Calcium is already synonymous with bone health and so the connection to ingredients and benefits is clearer.
The explanations for the increase in joint and bone health problems are as follows; trends of increased health awareness (as mentioned earlier), digital dependency, poor dietary habits, and poor education when exercising. Digital dependency has pinned consumers to desks; 16% of global consumers state that they spend over forty hours in the average week in front of PCs and/or laptops (2019). Only 33% of global consumers say that they take regular breaks when spending time on digital devices such as laptops or televisions (2019). 52% of global consumers admit to being concerned about the amount of time they spend indoors on technological devices (2020).
These statistics highlight the link between health problems and lifestyle and with the digitalization of vast swathes of job roles throughout the world economy as a result of remote working during Covid, this lifestyle would probably continue. Poor dietary habits, either due to a lack of nutrients or weight gain causing stress on bones and joints is another factor. 23% of global consumers say that they would describe their dietary habits as unhealthy (2020). 45% of global consumers say that they do not have enough time to exercise (2019).
During the lockdown, these factors were likely exacerbated with general pressures of self-isolation, therefore, somehow making consumers self-aware of the toll lockdown has had on their health without offending them. On average, consumers are more physically active, however, not all have become properly educated on exercising safely. As a result, problems to do with RSI and stress on bones are causing bone and joint injuries.
To induce more sales from goods containing joint and bone health benefits by reducing the attitude/behavior gap, companies should seek to gather media traction to create urgency among consumers for consumption. Foods consumed for snacks or for breakfast should aim to adequately publicize their ability to assist joint and bone health with a large emphasis on calcium as the signposting micronutrient for assisting bone and joint health. The future of joint and bone health among consumers seems polarized. Many have fallen into unhealthy habits linked to their work that doesn’t seem easy to shake as a producer through advertising. Others have increased their levels of proactivity and seem set to avoid health complications in the future.
This blog is based on FMCG Gurus: Joint and Bone Health – Global Report 2021. For more information, please click here.
Written by: Adam J