Recovery: How to reach the category's full potential

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

getty | halfpoint
getty | halfpoint

Related tags Sports nutrition

Recovery focused sports nutrition is becoming just as relevant to the everyday active consumer as it is to the elite athlete but brands need to create consumer-centric products and marketing if they are to tap into the potentially huge audience.

This was the message from the first episode of NutraIngredients’ Sports and Active Nutrition Broadcast Series​ which aired on Wednesday (September 30th​).

The episode, hosted by Nick Morgan, founder of sports integrated, focused on the subject of ‘Performance & Recovery’ and discussed how brands can tap into the full potential of this sub-category.

Morgan was joined by Robert Walker, CCO at Aminolabs, Frank Engel, global market development manager at Rousselot, James Hudson, performance nutritionist and recovery sports scientist at Gloucester rugby, and Suzane Leser, director of nutrition communication at Gelita.

Relevance of Recovery 

During the webinar, Morgan carried out an audience poll in which he asked whether performance or recovery is more relevant to the consumer today. During the webinar’s panel discussion, he revealed 69% of the audience chose recovery.

This didn't come as a surprise to Walker, who said: “If you look at the change in sports nutrition with it going towards mainstream consumers and people performing sports in their daily life they do not want to be held back during the week just because they took part in some sports at the weekend. And recovery is also linked to performance anyway because if you can recover better then you can perform better the next day.”

Hudson agreed that recovery is becoming a bigger focus, over performance now because athletes are interested in prolonging their athletic careers and they understand that they need to look after their joints and muscles post exercise.

“In collision sports these guys play with injuries all the time,” ​Hudson said. “As soon as they have been playing for a few years they are managing pain throughout the season and anything we can do to reduce that, they will appreciate.”

Morgan pointed out that, as he sees it, there is a societal demand to get people more active and to encourage people to partake in exercise regularly so products that support recovery are going to become all the more relevant to the everyday consumer moving forward.

Leser noted this was particularly true when you consider the fact many people will be transitioning from no exercise.

“People are wanting to be more physically active and many people have not grown up being particularly active and so in this transition when they are building up their fitness they will incur injuries and pains and this can demotivate people from exercising, people start saying they can’t run because they have bad knees.

“In fact, our research has shown that 50% of active people incur injuries throughout their sports so injuries aren’t just an issue for elite athletes – the need for recovery products is relvant across all segments of the sports nutrition market.”

Walker pointed out that recovery products are going to be of use to every age bracket of consumer just as long as they hit the right need states.

“For those over 50, recovery can just be about recovering from a day gardening. The sports nutrition industry needs to evolve by taking the science and making it digestible for a wider audience and tap into the triggers for the everyday active audience because they will be very different to those for elite athletes.”

He noted that eSports is a perfect example of how the industry can become relevant to new market with the right science, products, and communication.

“Who would have thought, even five years ago, that we would be developing formulas for people sitting in front of a computer playing games. That is an example of the extreme of taking sports nutrition products and modifying them to a new target audience. It shows how quickly the category can move with the times.”

Simplicity is Key

Discussing the importance of communication, James noted that the messaging used needs to remain simple, otherwise it will turn the consumer off. He pointed out that this is even the case with the elite athletes he works with.

“The communication of the science for athletes still remains very simple, short and concise. Even at the highest level we always have to re-enforce the same simple messages as building habits is about repitions of basic information – this makes the behaviour become part of their routine and become second nature. Even elite athletes can find it a turn off if you start getting into the complicated science.

“Athletes and the general population won’t buy into messages unless they are communicated in that simple and repetitive way.”

The panellists agreed that one of the easiest ways to get athletes and everyday consumers to integrate products into their everyday routine is by creating super convenience formats.

Engel pointed out this is why dissolve-able powder formats are so popular, as consumers can add them into drinks and foods.

He, and Leser, also agreed that consumers are increasingly interested in plant-based and sustainable solutions.

Hudson agreed, adding: “Some athletes are now looking to integrate more plant based protein into their routine for certain times of the day or close to training as this helps with gastro-intestinal issues.”

Morgan pointed out that ultimately it’s important to be super consumer-centric and to keep the consumer’s wants, needs and motivations at the heart of everything you do.

Giving his advice, Walker said: “Successful brands will be the brands that understand the consumer need state. If you understand how the need state has developed outside the gym. You need to really understand what consumers want within this broad-brush stroke of performance and recovery.”

The next episode of the Sports & Active Nutrition Broadcast Series will air on Wednesday (October 7th) and will focus on the 'Gut Microbiome'. And the final episode in the series, airing on October 14th, will focus on 'Brain Health' with a particular focus on eSports.

To register for free and ensure you don't miss the next episodes in the series, click here​. 

As part of the event, NutraIngredients is also hosting a virtual run in which one participant will win a £100 Amazon voucher. To take part, simply complete a run, track it on a tracking app, and post a picture of it on social media today (October 2nd) with the hashtag #sportsandactivenutrition. 

The winner of the prize will be announced during next week's 'Gut Microbiome' episode.

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