The sports nutrition industry is a fast developing one, with the worldwide market projected to grow to US$45.27 billion, rapidly increasing from the 2016 figure of $28.37 billion, according to Statista.
Two particular customer segments are shaping the direction and popularity of the sports nutrition market and are particularly lucrative for manufacturers and brands.
Active consumers are one of the most vigorously tuned in market segments; they want to look good and search for solutions to maintaining and improving their long-term health. Performance improvement is not a key motivator in their decision making.
Women make up a large part of this segment, with research from Grand View Research showing they are not looking for special supplementation regimes, but products that fit naturally into their lifestyle to help them reach their goals.
The “weekend warrior” consumer is an equally attractive market for sports nutrition brands. Performance driven, they seek an advantage to increase the productivity of their workouts and capture a winning edge. They look for “pre” and “post” supplements, and value the functional benefits over both taste and cost. The post workout supplement market for the weekend warrior is dominated by protein powders, with a huge array of types and tastes to suit every palette.
Athlete demand has helped to transform the sports nutrition industry into one that is accessible for the ordinary consumer. Recreational fitness fans are looking to improve their overall fitness, performance and endurance, with these “everyday athletes” becoming more drawn to evidence-based products that leverage natural ingredients and support overall well-being.
Consumers are also attracted to innovative items that will aid their workouts. Gone are the expectations of consuming a colored sports drink or a generic energy bar; weekend warriors and active consumers want and expect a variety of products that excite and deliver on specific workout goals. And the youth consumer has also had an influence on this product demand, helping to shape and grow the base market for sports supplements.
Consumers’ increasing interest in healthy eating and active lifestyles is creating a solid demand for high-protein foods across multiple categories, suggesting that a diverse group of consumers are buying them for a broader range of reasons.
With such a diverse marketplace, the trends brands embrace target consumers such as the weekend warrior and the active consumer.
- Safe, evidence-based natural products: In the quest to achieve their fitness goals, consumers do not want to compromise on safety. Natural-based sports nutrition products continue to remain popular with consumers. With organic sales in the United States totaling a new record of $49.4 billion in 2017, up 6.4 percent from the previous year according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA), this is a growing trend to reach the conscious consumer.
- D-ribose: Continuing to be a popular supplement for weekend warriors, d-ribose helps to support the cardiovascular system by producing energy naturally.1 Products like Klean Athlete Nutritional Supplement’s Klean Endurance promotes the use of d-ribose. Available as a powder or a liquid, it provides versatility for the consumer’s needs.
- Amino acids: Data show supplementation with branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) before and after exercise has beneficial effects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis.2
- Sustamine and citruline: For active consumers looking to maximize their muscle output and achieve greater strength-training results, a combination of the amino acids alanine and glutamine (as Sustamine® from Kyowa Hakko) and citruline are trend-driven ingredients. Companies like Kyowa Hakko market this product as the “number one selling brand” offering a brain boost and elimination of ammonia.
- Spices: another developing trend is the use of spices in sports nutrition based on growing research. For instance, curcumin supplementation increased grip strength and endurance performance and significantly decreased inflammation levels after physical challenge,3 and 2 g of ginger taken one hour before exercise reduced pain associated with delayed onset muscle soreness in healthy female subjects.4
- Dedicated products for particular sports: With consumers searching for a personalized plan and targeted aids for their exercise plans, brands are shifting toward dedicated products and plans for specific sports. Brands such as MyProtein have partnered with professional athletes and sporting clubs for endorsements and to market their products to different sports such as boxing and tennis.
- CBD oil, powders and capsules: Tapping into the popularity of cannabidiol, the non-narcotic fraction of industrial hemp is being increasingly used in the sports nutrition sector. Offering pain relief and inflammation recovery, brands like WillPower have brought ReGenPCR to market as a grass-fed whey protein powder containing 20 mg of the phytocannabinoid hemp extract.
As popularity and consumer demand continues to grow, the sports nutrition market will embrace and develop a variety of trends dedicated to help athletes improve and reach their goals.
Shifting consumer demands are contributing to the evolution of well-being choices, and the opportunity to create a personalized way to address fitness goals. Open minded, curious consumers want and are searching for a different, tailored experience as part of their daily exercise routines, with products targeted toward addressing specific concerns and helping with the post exercise cool-down.
With active consumers and weekend warriors driving demand, performance, functional benefits and ease of consumption will continue to be the key factors that help to develop and create new innovative products and services. And with athletes continuing to shape the marketplace, expect a sports nutrition industry that uses its influence to educate and shape the performance plans of the recreational athlete and fitness fan.
Lindsey Carnett (Lindsey@marketingmaven.com) is CEO and president of Marketing Maven, an Inc. 5000 ranked integrated marketing firm recognized nationally in the health space by third-party ranking company O’Dwyer’s PR. She specializes in PR, social media marketing, influencer marketing and reputation management. Lindsey is a 2017 PR News Top Woman in PR, FOLIO Magazine 2015 Top Women in Media Honoree and is noted for helping to launch consumer brands with substantiated ingredients.
- MacCarter D et al. “D-ribose aids advanced ischemic heart failure patients.” Int J Cardiol. 2009 Sep 11;137(1):79-80. DOI: 10.1016/j.ijcard.2008.05.025.
- Negro M et al. “Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system.” J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.
- Huang W et al. “Effect of curcumin supplementation on physiological fatigue and physical performance in mice.” Nutrients. 2015 Jan 30;7(2):905-21. DOI: 10.3390/nu7020905.
- Hoseinzadeh K et al. “Acute effects of ginger extract on biochemical and functional symptoms of delayed onset muscle soreness.” Med J Islam Repub Iran. 2015; 29: 261.