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Euromonitor on lifestage nutrition, digital personalisation, and driving value with functionality

Article-Euromonitor on lifestage nutrition, digital personalisation, and driving value with functionality

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Lifestage segmentation focused on ageing populations and women is an opportunity, but companies need to better define the role of ingredients in targeting specific ‘need states’ and win consumer trust in digital personalisation, says Euromonitor’s Margaux Laine.

The evolution of health-conscious eating is a vast topic, but one that the consultant managed to break down into bite-sized chunks in her presentation at the Vitafoods Insights Theatre last month. 

She identified three key trends – functionality as a value driver, lifestage nutrition, and personalised nutrition – that the industry can harness to drive consumer engagement in this space.

Laine started her presentation by providing some context on how health-conscious eating has moved into the spotlight.

“Governments are investing in this field; they want to improve people’s diets and health, and consumers are also taking ownership of what they are eating,” she said.

She cited some statistics that demonstrate this shift, adding: “Half of consumers believe their current eating and drinking [habits] are healthy or extremely healthy, yet 64% want to improve their eating habits.”

To tap into this now-mainstream interest in healthy eating, the industry “needs to change” its approach, she said, and needs to understand what motivates consumers to pay more for foods with functional properties.

Trend 1: Functionality as a value driver

Developing a positioning around a “need state” and identifying functional ingredients that address this need is one strategy for driving value, said Laine.

She gave the example of a product that targets the “aids sleep” need state. This could be positioned on a “nootropic” or “sleep well” platform, and could feature ingredients like melatonin, magnesium, lavender, or chamomile.

Another need state might be “brain health”, which could be positioned on a “nootropic”, “cognition boost”, or “gut happy” basis, and could include L-theanine, omega-3, vitamins B3 and D12, lion’s man, or probiotics, she explained.

Other need states could be “energy-boosting”, “mood-enhancing”, or “stress relief”.

Examining how different need states translate into consumer preferences for different ingredients, Laine said that Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer Health and Nutrition Survey (fielded in January and February 2024) found “energy-boosting” to be the most popular category globally, followed by “good for mind/wellbeing” and “good for relaxation or sleep”.

“Energy-boosting has been a focus for some years, with protein the main ingredient,” she added.

She gave Four Sigmatic Think Coffee Creamer as an example of how the energy boosting need state is evolving. This product, on sale in the US since 2023, is marketed on a dual mental focus and energy platform, and features lion’s mane and L-theanine.

Laine said another area gaining traction is the connection between gut health and mood regulation through brain function, with postbiotics an emerging ingredient here.

“We have seen prebiotic and probiotic claims gaining ground, but now postbiotics are coming through. […] The use of postbiotics is still rare: knowledge around them is growing, but they are still niche, and consumers don’t really know what they are,” she added.

Summing up how the industry can approach need states-led innovation, she said: “Firstly, companies must continue to educate consumers about food as medicine, and secondly, they need to define the role of super ingredients to target specific functions.”

Trend 2: Lifestage nutrition – ageing and women’s health

A slowdown in birthrates, coupled with a growing ageing population, has created an opportunity for companies to target consumers with functional foods that are tailored to this specific life stage, said Laine.

Euromonitor’s Voice of the Consumer Health and Nutrition Survey highlighted memory issues, heart disease, and mobility problems as the top concerns for consumers with regard to their long-term health.

Laine highlighted women’s health as another key focus area for lifestage nutrition strategies, as taboos around menstruation, menopause, and reproductive health are being broken around the world.

“There is an opportunity for companies to promote and communicate on a global scale around the solutions they can offer women,” she said.

“While supplements target specific needs at various life stages, functional foods can help consumers to incorporate beneficial ingredients into their daily diets.”

Trend 3: Personalised nutrition and digital wellness

“Personalised nutrition is a great help in providing dietary recommendations and interventions when helping consumers with their individual needs. There are companies [which] draw on genetic information and biomarkers as well as lifestyle factors and preferences,” said Laine.

She said that tech – in the form of smartwatches, apps, and devices – is adding an interesting dimension to this space, with 47% of consumers either extremely or very comfortable with using online or app-based services for personalised nutrition recommendations.

Advancements in the areas of microbiome analysis, epigenetics, and biohacking have the potential to revolutionise personalised nutrition and approaches to diet and health, said Laine.

She cited the personalised nutrition brand Zoe as evidence of how, going forwards, gut health will play a pivotal role in consumers’ personal nutrition journeys, and praised Zoe’s approach to data collection and sharing.

“In digital personalisation, brands must gain consumer trust when asking to collect their data. Zoe has been able to explain to its users that by collecting data from multiple samples, it can give accurate advice – this helps consumers to understand why it is important to share their data,” Laine explained.

In summary, she said: “It is important for companies to gather data, to understand where consumer preferences are and how they are ready to collaborate, and then use the results to focus their innovation and drive their strategies.”