Digestive health, energy and ‘feel the benefit’ take the top three places in the report – ‘10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition & Health 2011’, by Julian Mellentin, the editor of monthly, New Nutrition Business.
“A ‘feel the benefit’ effect is the underpinning of the success of energy drinks and products for digestive health,” the report observes. “These are among the top consumer health concerns – and all consumers’ top concerns relate to problems where delivering a tangible effect is critical for product credibility.”
“Lack of a quick and easy-to-feel effect can inhibit success.This has been a particular problem for products fortified with omega-3s, which provide no readily measurable effect, and brands that promise healthier skin have the same challenge.”
The presence of this attribute in digestive health products has leant the category a certain resilience, Mellentin observed.
“Products for digestive health have recently proven themselves to be almost recession-proof, even when selling at premium prices. It has become clear that while consumers are willing to economise in some areas, maintaining good digestive health is one area where committed consumers remain loyal to brands that they can trust, even when they are premium-priced. This is a testament to the power of ‘feel the benefit’.”
Rounding out the top ten trends were:
- Fruit: the future of food and health
- Weight management
- Naturally healthy and ultra-convenient
- Packaging and premiumisation
- Bones and movement
The report names eight micro-trends which are,“perhaps stalled or only growing very slowly at present pending developments in technology or marketing which can accelerate growth.”
- Protein power
- The reinvention of dairy
- Vitamin D
- Kids’ nutrition – naturalness rules
- Probiotics’ new niches
In digestive health the report notes that fibre and probiotics are strong and well-recognised, but prebiotics less so. “Fibre is arguably a bigger opportunity than probiotics,” it states, due to its mass market awareness and untapped marketing angles. But prebiotic awareness is lower and its central claims under threat from regulators.
“If you choose to use a term such as prebiotic – meaning a fibre that promotes the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria – to describe the benefits of your product then this immediately positions you firmly in the early adopter market.”
Mellentin predicts that energy shots will continue to boom and have pushed through the $1bn sales mark in a $12bn global market.
“What energy drinks (such as Red Bull) and energy shots (such as the market-leading 5-Hour Energy) have accomplished is to fix the benefit of ‘energy’ in consumers’ minds as one that is defined by beverages more than any other product type. The energy message has already been transferred to a small extent to bars but it is proving a difficult-to-impossible stretch to take the message to many other categories.”