The mind of the consumer is focused on health and wellness, but research from Natural Marketing Institute (NMI) shows “gaps" in perceptions and needs between what consumers want and what suppliers are offering.

Steve French, Chief Operating Officer

June 17, 2016

3 Min Read
Consumer Desires, Product Offerings Show Opportunity Gaps

The key to success in health and wellness—let alone any industry—is to develop and market finished products that either meet existing demand/or future needs. Developed in partnership between Informa and Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), The Mind of the Consumer study highlights thought leadership and insights into the consumer as it impacts ingredient science and finished product innovation. The insights generated from such research into these topics showcases areas of opportunity for manufacturers, marketers and suppliers across the supply chain to develop and launch new products successfully.

Some findings were consistent across all categories. Consumers are looking to boost their nutritional intake in ways that are more convenient, natural, less caloric and tastier. However, as consumers become more informed and involved in living a healthy lifestyle, they are also looking to eliminate or limit the amount of chemicals, pesticides, sugar, artificial sweeteners/colors and processed foods that they put into their bodies.

Seventy million adults in the United States are using products for digestive health. Users were more likely to manage their digestive health through the foods they consume (vegetables, fruits and high-fiber/whole grain foods) rather than the usage of supplements (including probiotics). While consumers indicated the usage of food for digestive health, suppliers indicated more focus on vitamin and mineral supplements. Product manufacturers should be mindful of this “gap" between what consumers want versus what is currently available.

Overall probiotic usage is high, with more than one-quarter of consumers indicating that they are using foods, beverages and supplements to get probiotics in their diet. Currently, yogurt and supplement formats of probiotics drive not only usage among consumers, but also the focus of suppliers. As awareness and usage increase, consumers are looking outside of these traditional formats to alternatives.

With almost 30 million American adults actively engaged in using weight management products, they’re increasingly turning to specialized foods and drinks, including low-calorie foods, bars and pre-packaged meals to do so, instead of supplements. While suppliers indicated a focus on both supplements and foods for the weight management category, there may be opportunity with beverages, as well.

Consumers are increasingly returning to traditional food sources such as eggs, dairy and lean meats to boost their protein intake, however, consumers are also willing to also use fortified foods and supplements to meet their needs. Almost 20 percent of consumers are using protein powder supplements, and 23 percent are using shakes fortified with protein. Of those consumers, two-thirds said they are using those products more now than they did last year. Snack products have also seen success as grazing behavior has become an all-day eating occasion with a plethora of products being loaded with protein-rich ingredients.

About 34 million adults in the United States are using sports nutrition and performance products, driven in part by younger males. Users are consuming products across a wide range of formats, with bars and supplements used most often. Suppliers indicated that most of their focus within this category is on vitamins, minerals and supplements. While not totally misaligned with consumers’ desires, opportunities lie in other formats, as well.

The omega-3 category is fairly robust with 65 million American adults currently incorporating omega-3 products into their diets. Traditional sources of omega-3s are popular, with more than one-half of users indicating they are using fish oil supplements and two out of five using omega-3 supplements. However, there is continued opportunity for expansion across an array of product formats, such as fortified foods, as an alternative delivery method.

Click the following text link to learn more about the six categories studied in The Mind of the Consumer research, including the market opportunities that product suppliers are missing, in the INSIDER Report.

About the Author(s)

Steve French

Chief Operating Officer, Natural Marketing Institute

As COO, Steve French ([email protected]) leads Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), a strategic consulting, market research and business development firm specializing in the health, wellness and sustainability marketplace. He has over 30 years of related experience and insight into today’s consumer and market trends, and has pioneered a range of consumer databases to help clients navigate, identify and validate market opportunities. Prior to joining NMI, French spent 15 years at PepsiCo, Mars and Marriott.

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