Only around 25% of households believe they have adequate savings to deal with the economic downturn and, as such, 45% of consumers made active attempts to save money when shopping in May 2020, according to surveys of 23,000 consumers across 18 countries in April and May 2020 (FMCG Gurus).
The figures were revealed as part of PharmaLinea's webinar chaired by Nutraceutic MD Nathan Gray.
The health and nutrition experts explained that despite the mass economic uncertainty and tightening of purse strings, the opportunities for the nutraceuticals industry is huge.
Gray revealed the results of a survey of 1000 consumers across the UK and US in May 2020 revealing that consumers are now paying more attention to food supplements than before this pandemic (Trust Transparency Center).
What's more, the survey revealed nearly 30% of consumers who take supplements say they now take them more consistently, 18% say they are taking higher doses and nearly 25% are taking more types of supplements.
Mike Hughes, head of consumer research and insights for the market insight provider FMCG Gurus, presented as part of the webinar, explaining that just because consumers are looking to cut costs, that doesn't necessarily translate to 'cheapest product wins'. Instead, it will translate to 'highest value wins' and they will consider products with great health benefits as offering excellent value.
The surveys in April and May revealed around 20% of consumers have turned to supplements to boost their health as a result of COVID-19 which Hughes argued represents a 'massive opportunity' for the market.
"Consumers are conscious about a variety of health issues, even those who already considered themselves to be healthy."
Specifically, Hughes said there’s been a 'surge in the number of people who are worried about mental wellbeing and waistlines'.
The number of respondents concerned about their weight increased from 21% to 32%, from April to May, whilst those concerned about mental wellbeing increased from 36% to 43%.
"This will drive demand for products that help aid relaxation and address sleep problems and that’s a real opportunity for health and nutrition industry in 2020 and beyond," added Hughes.
"There’s a problem of inactivity during lockdown and an increase in snacking for comfort purposed which means many feel they are gaining weight. They may also be concerned about the implications associated with weight and COVID-19.
"This shows that in 2020 and beyond there will be a higher demand for products that help people to manage their weight."
Back to Basics
As a result, people are making attempts to eat and drink healthier and looking to make fundamental changes to their diets and lifestyles but Hughes said they may not do this in the same way as pre-COVID.
"Consumers will take a back to basics approach because they want products they know and they trust. At the same time they might be concerned about their wallets so the more premium markets like the Sports Nutrition industry might take a bit of a hit as people take a back to basics approach to their health.
"They may also look to cut their sugar intake. As a number of consumers become concerned about their weight they may be more likely to look for products with a ‘sugar free’ claim."
Case studies of success
Anton Orazem, chief executive officer at PharmaLinea, also joined the webinar to outline some of the proactive product launches and marketing strategies utilised by his firm's partners during this crisis.
One of the firm's Russian partners, which sells a prenatal supplement multivitamin, re-positioned the product with a focus on immunity.
Orazem explained: "They focused on the micronutrients in their product that are good for immunity, like vitamin c, zinc, iron. They adopted their social media blogger content, created articles about the role of these nutrients in reducing the risk of getting stick... They created banners for email campaigns and focused promotion on what’s important for doctors right now, they sent out an email campaign to specialists and doctors."
He added that these changes in strategy did not call for any increases in budget - revealing that a change in marketing does not need to mean increased costs.
Discussing a partner in Bulgaria, he said the company recognised that many funds and grants were being offered to businesses by governments so took this opportunity to attain some big, detailed data that would help them discover new sales opportunities.
"They invested this into specific market research to acquire data on what doctors and pharmacists were recommending and then they focused sales reps where doctors weren’t recommending their products."
Elsewhere, a partner in Vietnam boosted its ATL promotion for its bone health product online.
"They had a strong social media channel to begin with, with a lot of user generated content so they asked for users to share their photos and they received a lot. They used these to promote their product in a way which looked more genuine."
Orazem concluded: "In a time of crisis, a consumer will buy less impulsively and the product must have better differentiation by being better, different or cheapest.
"When times are good and everyone is advertising you can get lost in the crowds, when times are bad and everyone else is quiet, that’s your time to be heard."