As global sales of sports nutrition products maintain healthy growth rates, one distinct – and unexpected – group of consumers is emerging as the main driver for the market, made up of people who are not necessarily interested in sports.
Tagged as ‘lifestyle users’ by the market research firm Datamonitor, these consumers are “the last group that was expected to embrace sports nutrition products, but in the last few years they have become a crucial part of the market”.
The emergence of this relatively new consumer base as a driver for the market is having a knock-on effect on the category as a whole, with a fundamental shift in approach likely to be needed in order to keep up with the changing consumer patterns.
According to Richard Parker, senior consumer analyst at Datamonitor, sports nutrition consumers can be split into four main groups: bodybuilders, athletes, recreational users (who pursue sport as a hobby) and lifestyle users.
Lifestyle users, he said, are not necessarily very athletic, but are choosing to consume sports nutritional products as an initial building block in leading a healthier lifestyle.
“People within this group mainly consume sports nutrition products in order to provide a refreshing beverage, a quick meal replacement or simply a healthy snack. Consumers within the group may also use sports nutrition products to provide an energy boost during illness, or even when feeling tired,” said Parker.
“Formulating products which cater to their needs is (…) crucial. They want to feel that they are engaging in healthy practices through consumption, so products must be positioned as a great tasting, healthy indulgence.”
With the market being driven by this new group, the category’s traditional consumers will require more effective, targeted sports nutrition products. They will want to disassociate from these other groups and products, so foods and beverages targeting this market must emphasize highly scientific benefits rather than adopting a ‘suitable for all’ ethos, says Datamonitor.
Value sales of sports nutrition products vary according to the different variables and markets tracked by research groups.
Figures from Euromonitor place the global sports nutrition market at US$4.7bn in 2009, led by North America ($3.2bn) and western Europe ($713.6m).
Datamonitor, which classifies sports nutrition as sports drinks and energy bars, places the European market (including France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the UK) at US$2.8bn in 2008, with a forecast to reach $3.6bn by 2013.
Datamonitor’s figures reveal that Germany is currently the largest market, while Spain is forecast to experience high levels of annual growth (9.8 per cent) and become the leading market by 2013. By contrast, Germany is forecast to have a much lower level of annual growth (1.6 per cent) in the same period.
The market researcher places US sports nutrition sales at $2.9bn in 2008, forecast to grow to $3.5bn by 2013. The figures for Canada are $165.8m in 2008 and $200.8m in 2013, while the South American market (including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela) was worth $757.2m in 2008, due to grow to $1.2bn by 2013.