Sports Nutrition: Product Formats and Sensory Appeal

14th December 2023


Initially, the sports nutrition market focused on the development of nutritional products designed specifically for fitness enthusiasts and athletes. These types of products have been designed to optimize performance, recovery, and overall health and wellness.

However, in recent years, the sports nutrition market has significantly grown. This is a result of increased consumer attentiveness towards health. Many consumers seek sports nutrition products that will support their daily well-being. This includes protein powders, sports drinks, energy bars, and dietary supplements. As a result, the increased demand for such products has led the sports nutrition market to move beyond a niche, towards a market of mass appeal.

This rise in health consciousness is evident through our findings. For instance, FMCG Gurus’ consumer insights reveal that a large proportion of sports nutrition consumers indicate some level of weekly exercise. Their motivation for this exercise is not solely for physical appearance or competitive sports, but rather to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle. 

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Product Formats

On a global scale, consumers are drawn to a variety of sports nutrition products. In particular, sports drinks and energy drinks have emerged as the most favored choices. For example, FMCG Gurus’ market research highlights that 62% of consumers who purchase products in this market have purchased energy drinks in the last six months. These products surpass more traditional products like protein powder and shakes in terms of popularity.

Furthermore, despite the challenge of rising prices, consumers were more likely to have increased their usage of sports nutrition products rather than decreased. Notably, the top three categories of increased consumption were energy/sport gels, protein-fortified foods, and protein cereals. This highlights that consumers are continuing to prioritize their health.

Are Sports Nutrition Products Essential During a Cost-of-Living Crisis?

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The cost of living crisis is significantly affecting many consumers. As a result, consumers are being forced to make challenging decisions to stretch their finances. On one hand, maintaining health remains a priority. Many believe that proactive health measures during the pandemic have improved their well-being. But, on the other hand, 60% of those who purchase these products recognize that price inflation will influence their consumption habits in this market.

In response to this financial strain, consumers are most likely to opt for products they deem essential. This indicates a careful approach to consumption by seeking out products that are better value for money.

The Sensory Appeal of Sports Nutrition Products

When examining these products in food form, consumers are satisfied with the variety available and the protein content in these products.

Notably, consumers show less satisfaction with the sugar content and sensory aspects of these products. FMCG Gurus’ insights reveal that of consumers who purchase these products, 21% are unsatisfied with the sugar content in high-protein snacks. This dissatisfaction with sugar content highlights the avoidance and moderation of “unhealthy” ingredients while maximizing the intake of health-boosting ingredients. Furthermore, sensory appeal is crucial to consumers. It is particularly important for products that substitute traditional snacks like chocolate for high-protein alternatives. Brands must ensure these products are not linked with inferior taste and texture, especially if they are positioned at a premium price point. 

This article is based on FMCG Gurus: Sports Nutrition – Country Reports. For more information, please click here.

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