What’s Behind the Consumer Surge in Active Nutrition?

27th March 2023


In recent years, consumers are demonstrating an interest in functional and fortified food and drinks, along with nutritional supplements. This can be attributed to COVID-19 meaning consumers are now more conscious of addressing their health, realising that they are not as healthy as they could be. Hence meaning, consumers will turn to food and drink products which can help them facilitate their health goals

active nutrition

Attitudes towards health

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a consumer shift in attitudes towards health. During the peak of the pandemic consumers were concerned over vulnerability to disease, driven by the high media attention given to certain demographic groups being more at risk to serious health complications. This also led many consumers to realise they are not as healthy as they could be. Furthermore, this led to greater emphasis being placed on immune health during the pandemic.

As the worst of the pandemic has passed, consumers are re-assessing their health concerns, focusing more on aspects of emotional health and day-to-day health concerns. FMCG Gurus consumer research finds that the top areas of health consumers are looking to address this year are digestive health, mental wellbeing, sleep health, weight and lastly immunity.

Proactive approach to health

Consumers are adopting a proactive approach to health and wellness; our research finds that 72% of global consumers agree they have taken a more proactive approach to addressing their health as a result of COVID-19. Proactive consumers are looking to address their health before any health issues occur, as opposed to reactive consumers who address health symptoms as and when they occur.

COVID-19 resulted in the growth of the proactive consumer, who focus on taking a long-term approach to wellness and focus on prevention over cure. Our research finds that 67% of consumers who take a proactive approach to health have adopted this approach in the last two years. These consumers state their attitude to health has changed as they want to prevent any health problems occurring by leading a healthier lifestyle, highlighting the prevention over cure approach to health and wellness. Following this, is concerns over COVID-19, with 52% of proactive consumers stating this as the reason why their approach to health changes over the last two years.

Functional and fortified products

When asked what types of products they are most likely to turn to address a health issue, reactive, and proactive health consumers cited food and drink as their first choice, with only one in five proactive consumers saying they opted for medicine.

In the broadest term, functional products are defined as those with active ingredients and benefit claims that contribute to and facilitate health goals. FMCG Gurus research shows that 85% of proactive consumers purchase these products to some extent, with the most popular format being food and drink. This shows that these consumers do not believe that everyday food and drink alone is enough to maintain and improve their health, meaning they are attentive to claims on groceries when shopping

active nutrition bars

Enhancing perceptions of value

With 59% of global consumers believing the country they live in is in a recession and only 45% of households feeling they have adequate financial savings; consumers will adopt recessionary style spending habits. Consumers will question whether products are essential, scrutinize whether products offer good value for money and cut back in some areas in order to spend more in others.

Consumers are facing higher prices across everyday items such as fruit, rice, bread and dairy, whilst also needing to cut back on essentials such as energy and water use. Our research finds that nearly one quarter of consumers state that if they have to reduce spend on products over the next 12 months, they will reduce spend on health and wellness products.

As a result, health and wellness brands will need to enhance perceptions of value. Consumers state that product attributes such as taste (59%), natural claims (57%), scientifically proven claims (57%) and multifunctional benefits (57%) can help shape their perceptions of value. Consumers can be sceptical of health claims on products, therefore scientifically and clinically proven claims will help build consumer trust whilst also promoting perceptions of value.

This blog is based on the presentation What’s behind the consumer surge in active nutrition? For more information, please click here.

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