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How can brands deliver functional wellbeing through nutrition? [Interview]

Article-How can brands deliver functional wellbeing through nutrition? [Interview]

© Vitafoods Insights How can brands deliver functional wellbeing through nutrition? [Interview]
Consumers increasingly want to be proactive in preventing health issues, and see nutrition as playing a key role in this pursuit. Nicole Jansen, from Innova Market Insights, will explore what manufacturers can do to tap new opportunities at Vitafoods Europe 2024.

A growing emphasis on personal wellbeing is creating new possibilities for ingredient and product innovation. While immunity-boosting and functional ingredients will undoubtedly be taking centre stage at Vitafoods Europe 2024, understanding which ingredients to use, and how to target core consumers, is still a challenge.

In her presentation, Nicole Jansen, who leads the insights and innovation team at Innova Market Insights, will examine where this consumer demand is coming from, how manufacturers are reacting to this demand, and identify possible strategies for market success. She will also share her expertise in working closely with customers to find insights that lead to informed strategic decisions.

Key drivers of consumer demand

I really think that the pandemic had a strong impact on the consumer in terms of health, and that we can still see the consequences,” says Jansen. “Before the pandemic, consumers were already looking at health, but ever since, health has been taken to the next level and is seen more holistically by the consumer. Consumers are increasingly aware that things like getting enough sleep or their gut health can have a significant impact on their overall health.

Jansen also notes the influence of social media on consumer attitudes. Across numerous platforms, opinions on food and health are being shared. This, she says, is driving people to try out new things.

The most successful manufacturers are those that have tapped into these trends, and fostered innovation across numerous categories. “This is not just happening in sports nutrition for example,” says Jansen. “Even in indulgent categories, we can find products like chocolate with mood health claims. Products promoting gut health are also playing a huge role.

Strategies for market success

Jansen identifies two broad market strategies in this innovation space. The first is to consider immune health as a broad trend, and develop products that address this holistically. The second is to break the sector down in order to identify specific functionalities. “So within immune health, we can find products that claim to be positive for brain health, for your focus, or for your gut health,” she says. “This enables brands to target specific consumers.

In terms of functional ingredients, protein is still hugely popular. “Protein has super-positive health connotations,” says Jansen. “Consumers are also looking for specific vitamins and minerals, and things like fruit, vegetables, and botanicals are also closely associated with health. Lavender, for example, is known to have a calming effect, and to help with sleep. These are functionalities that are easily understood.

Holistic approaches to maintaining health

During her presentation, Jansen will emphasise the fact that consumers are increasingly taking a holistic approach to maintain health and boosting their immunity. This means that nutrition must be seen in the context of growing interest in physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.

The goal of this presentation really is to encourage people to be open to innovation, and to really identify their specific target group,” she says. “It is easy to be overwhelmed by what others doing. I would advise brands to figure out who their target group is, and think about how they can best communicate with them. There is a big difference between Boomers and Gen Zs, for example.

Finally, Jansen is looking forward to seeing the latest ingredient and product innovations at Vitafoods Europe, both from the perspective of a market expert, and as a consumer. “Finding out what the industry is up to in terms of innovation is always inspiring,” she says.

Nicole Jansen will be delivering a session at the Vitafoods Insights Theatre entitled ‘Innovation, trends and consumer expectations in functional food’. Jansen holds a Master Degree in Food Quality Management and leads the Insights & Innovation Team at Innova Market Insights. Innova is the Knowledge Partner for Vitafoods Europe 2024.