For the parents of children aged 16 and younger, immunity and resistance to disease and colds for their children was the top concern, while this focus shifted to weight worries for most adults aged 18-50 and to bone and joint health for those aged over 51.
The survey from the Dutch multinational included respondents from Germany (750 people), France (750), Italy (450), Poland (750), Russia (750), Sweden (750), Spain (750), Egypt (458), the UK (750) and South Africa (750).
The company sought to look beyond industry trend spotting to identify what health issues consumers really care about.
No silver bullet
In 70% of the countries weight was the top concern, while in the remaining 30% it was at least in the ‘top three’.
Yet while adults worried about weight more than any other health issue, exercise and nutrition was the preferred way to tackle the issue for 39% of respondents compared to just 8% who favoured supplement use as a solution.
Maria Pavlidou, head of EMEA communications at DSM, told us this result was surprising.
“It shows that somehow I think they don’t believe that there is a pill out there that is going to actually help them with weight management.”
When asked what drove this concern, most respondents said they wanted to maintain their weight at a healthy level.
“It’s not about losing weight. The main thing was they were worried about gaining more weight. So their number one goal is to maintain their weight, a healthy weight,” Pavlidou said.
“So it’s not really about losing weight and I think this is why it’s not really about supplements.”
Meanwhile, across all ages and regions the most used supplements by respondents were those to help immunity and resistance to disease and colds.
For adults over 51 years old, supplements for bone and joint health follow closely behind, while younger adults (18-30 years) largely opt for supplements for skin appearance.
Eye health shone through as a top concern in Eastern Europe.
“We didn’t see eye health even in the top three for the other countries, however for Russia and Poland it was number one so this could be more important for
The results suggested this concern revolved around the fear of needing glasses as they grew older as well as the fear of general age-related deterioration of vision.
Pavlidou said this was in line with market data showing growth for eye health products in this region, but more research was needed on why this was so marked in the region.
“This is a very interesting question and one that I would like to find out next.”
Pavlidou said she had been surprised by the main focus of parents for their children’s health, where immune health and concern about future disease were top.
“My expectation was that for the older children, cognition would be higher in the top three [concerns], but it was not. Six to 16 years is school age so [we thought] maybe brain development and cognition would be more popular, but we didn’t see that.”
Children's cognitive health “is not there yet” in terms of consumer awareness, she said, while immune health was a more ‘classic’ concern.
However parents were also concerned about diseases in the future for their children, which suggested much touted industry discussions around the first 1000 days of life as a window of health opportunity also held weight with consumers.
“I thought that this was still industry language somehow, but we see that the consumer has also realised this concept because it was in the top three.”
This was the first proprietary survey of this kind for DSM, and it has plans to repeat the survey again next year for comparison.
Regional differences on eye health would be key focuses for these future surveys.