The dramatic changes occurring nationwide in 2020 have disrupted daily activities and normal routines. Across the board, consumers have shifted their priorities and goals, developing new expectations when it comes to activity and sports nutrition products.
The cancellation of competitive sporting events and temporary sidelining of teams has encouraged more people to take part in exercise, activity and sports for pure enjoyment and wellness rather than competition.
Gym closures have reduced access to formal training, workout guidance, group classes and sense of community, and people are seeking alternative ways to fill these voids. Online classes and virtual training technology products have exploded in popularity. Consumers have expanded the use of personal digital tools that encourage assessment, motivation and success tracking.
Quarantines and isolation have influenced elevated stress levels and challenges in managing healthy mood and adequate sleep. Young and old alike are looking for effective natural solutions that offer long-term results without the concern of potential side effects. Loneliness is more commonplace and the search for authentic connections within like-minded communities has accelerated.
More sedentary lifestyles are taking a toll on energy levels and reduced routine movement. People have recognized the need to find their own personal strategies for staying active. Interest is also increasing in nutrition and natural supplements that help improve energy levels and support joint and muscle health and comfort.
With the reduction in travel, sports nutrition has seen a drop in demand for on-the-go products such as ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages and bars. While convenient formats are still important, they are now more commonly used in the home, and consumers are more willing to use powders, mix-and-match, and take a more do-it-yourself approach to nutrition and supplementation.
The influence of women in sports nutrition
Women now make up a significant part of the sports and active nutrition market and are driving innovation in this space. Successful sports nutrition brands recognize the untapped potential of creating and marketing products specifically targeted toward women. Factors such as hormones and body size influence unique differences in the nutrition and performance requirements of women compared to men. Few sports nutrition brands truly understand and address the real needs of women, and opportunity abounds.
At the same time, women are primarily turning to sports nutrition for many of the same reasons as men—to support energy, performance, strength and overall wellness. Women are making it clear that sports nutrition is about staying active and feeling good, not about changing their appearance. Successful brands avoid patronizing messages, and make sincere efforts to empower strong, active women.
Personal training gets personal
Many people can no longer rely on formal training and structured routines to guide activity and athletic endeavors. Individuals now must take more personal responsibility in reaching their goals, getting proper nutrition and maintaining healthy activity levels. Fortunately, many technologies and digital tools can help with assessments, personalization, compliance and guidance. Brands working to connect products with this kind of ongoing support, motivation and the means for tracking success typically benefit from improved customer satisfaction and increased brand loyalty.
The importance of connection and community
Gym memberships, fitness classes and sports teams that once brought people together have dwindled and even disappeared. More than ever, people seek authentic connections. Providing virtual connections, building online communities and maintaining a strong social media presence can help customers gain a sense of participation, caring and accountability.
The shift to overall active wellness
The sports nutrition market was once dominated by protein and products addressing muscle growth, recovery and performance. When it comes to sports nutrition and supplementation, the playing field has widened, and expectations diversified. While a need still exists for products that support muscle building and energy, today sports nutrition is viewed much more holistically, and more all-encompassing. Active consumers now also look to the sports nutrition category for support in reducing stress, improving joint and muscle comfort, and increasing mental focus—with the primary end goals being fitness and overall wellness.
The emphasis on overall wellness highlights a significant shift as consumers continue to recognize the significant roles that activity, exercise and proper nutrition play in supporting a healthy immune response and long-term health. Additionally, it is understood that sleep and better rest are also important for recovery and contribute not only to sports performance but also to general well-being.
These goals span across generations, and the general population is taking a more proactive approach to health. Active consumers are moving to more preventive approaches to muscular and joint health, rather than relying on palliative, regenerative products available in the market. Women live longer on average than men in nearly every country in the world, and the aging population continues to seek products that help slow down or mitigate the potential adverse effects of both aging and activity, including muscular and joint damage.
“Staying in shape” means so much more now than simply having good muscle tone or cardio endurance. Consumers today are seeking to align with sports nutrition brands that help them achieve a healthy balance of mental, physical and emotional fitness.
Marcos López has a master’s degree in bioengineering and is a sales and marketing professional with over five years of experience in the nutraceutical industry. Currently he leads Monteloeder's North American office as business development director USA. López enjoys using his knowledge and skills to help develop new products that integrate scientific and technological advances to positively impact the quality of consumers’ lives.