There might have been a time when healthy eating was considered a fad or, at best, an alternative lifestyle reserved for the ultra-fit, the ones trying to get fit, and the various members of what can broadly be called counterculture. The data, however, suggests a different story.
According to a recently published TechSci Research report, the compound average growth rate (CAGR) for the global organic food market is projected to be over 16% between 2015 – 2020. The NEXT Forecast 2016, an industry report focused on natural products, forecasts that sales of natural, organic and healthy products will grow 64% into a $252 BB business by 2019, representing a CAGR of 8.6% over 6 years. That figure is more than four times the projected growth rate of mainstream consumer packaged goods. Nielsen’s 2015 Global Health & Wellness Survey saw 88% of respondents say that they would pay more for healthier foods.
Hopefully we didn’t lose you in all the facts and figures. Here’s the gist: the market for food products supporting health and wellness is big and getting bigger. And the opportunity is global; people everywhere are increasingly concerned about the food they eat.
CPG companies and retailers should respond to these trends by understanding what is driving these behavioral shifts. Doing so may require zeroing in on the specific demographic served by the product in question. Baby Boomers, for instance, are shopping for food products that help them better deal with chronic ailments such as diabetes or hypertension. Gen Xers, often in the throes of parenthood, are battling food allergies, picky eaters, tough budgets, and a hectic lifestyle. Millennials, who are skeptical of big business, demand honest answers but also love a good story (especially one they can retell via social media). And, like Gen Xers, they want convenience. Actually, they expect it.
More generally, consumers everywhere are increasingly seeing food and drink as direct contributors to their health and wellbeing, at times viewing it as medicine or, at the very least, a front line in prevention. This might sound obvious, but for some countries, especially Western ones, it is a departure from a recent era where food was fuel—gas in the tank, but not the oil that kept the engine maintained.
A growing number of companies are already responding to these global shifts, implementing policies specifically directed at improved support of the consumer’s health. Among the steps being taken in support of these policies are:
- Increasing transparency about what ingredients are in each product and how the product is made;
- Reformulating or introducing new products that better align to company policies on health and nutrition;
- Limiting or eliminating marketing to children under 12 for products not meeting nutritional standards.
Equally important, if not moreso, is advertising what is not in the product. According to a 2016 Nielsen survey, “Many consumers define healthful foods primarily by what they don’t contain, rather than the benefits they provide. Sixty-two percent of global respondents agree that the absence of undesirable ingredients is more important than the inclusion of beneficial ones.” The Non-GMO butterfly, gluten-free, and no high-fructose corn syrup are common examples of this.
The same survey talks about simplicity being an important factor in product selection, so much so that customers are increasingly looking past the brand to the number of ingredients on the label. The challenge, then, is to associate (or re-associate) your brand with that desire for simplicity, be viewed as a “healthy” option, respond to those demographic-based expectations, and still maintain a differentiated voice in what will be an increasingly crowded marketplace.
Ultimately, all of this boils down to effective storytelling (as does most things in branding). Your audience can hear a good story, enjoy it, and change nothing about their lives. Your audience can hear an effective story, however, and let it move them to a different choice.