The global market for products to support digestion and overall gut health is burgeoning, as a range of products in a variety of formats is supporting a plethora of gut-related health effects.
Consider these market dynamics to get a grasp on the critical trends affecting digestive health and, ultimately, to achieve success in the category:
Beyond digestion. Digestive health is no longer focused solely on digestion and digestion-related woes. Research has (and continues to) unveil the role of the gut and microbiome in overall health and well-being, and in specific areas such as mood and cognitive health. Digestive support remains a critical component of the digestive health category, but research will continue to open doors for scientifically supported ingredients that benefit the gut and its expanding impact on health.
Diverse ingredients. Probiotics have been centerstage in the digestive health category in recent years. Though interest in probiotics isn’t expected to wane, it will increase in other gut-healthy ingredients, as well as multi-ingredient formulations that provide a more holistic approach to digestive health. An example is pre-/probiotic and enzyme/probiotic combination formulas. These advancements are driven by emerging research and technologies, as well as increased consumer understanding of the microbiome. Note the need to consider demands for “natural” products, as seen in Western markets.
Strategic delivery. Digestive health is a category consumers approach via a range of formats, including supplements, foods and beverages. In fact, food and beverages with a digestive health positioning saw value growth of 5 percent in 2017, reaching retail sales of US$66 billion globally, according to Euromonitor International. Equally diverse are the populations seeking digestive health products. Asia-Pacific remains a hot region for probiotic-containing products, while functional foods targeted to digestive health are gaining ground in India, and Western markets are seeking “naturally functional” products.
In the coming year, demands for personalization and convenience will impact the digestive health category.
Companies like Map My Gut and Day Two analyze samples provided by consumers to measure individual responses to food, based on bacteria in the gut, and then provide personalized nutrition advice.
Further, demands for convenience and shifting shopping behaviors will impact how consumers purchase digestive health products. For example, U.K.-based Fermented by Lab developed a subscription box service delivering probiotic foods to one’s door. Alternative channels and services are key areas of innovation used to differentiate products in the hugely competitive food industry.
Ultimately, brands offering products to support digestive and gut health need to be in tune with the solutions consumers are seeking and the formats they prefer, while staying aware of shifting buying patterns. Science is critical, as it will be the force driving expansion of the market.