Meet at the crossroads: How to hit the market running with on-trend innovations

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

getty | hakinmhan
getty | hakinmhan

Related tags Trends Marketing Health COVID

The health and nutrition market experts at HMT (Healthy Marketing Team) have launched their annual 'Gamechangers' report to help industry players tap into trends as they move from niche to mass market appeal.

HMT​’s report, entitled 'Fast Forward to the Massmarket', explains what motivates the masses to accept new ideas - an important concept right now after COVID-19 has pushed many health trends from niche to mass appeal.

Introducing the report, Peter Wennström, HMT's founder and expert consultant, says: "It’s been a very interesting year to say the least. The pandemic has changed the way we live and do business and of course influenced consumers choices. We consider Covid to be the ultimate Gamechanger in the balance between food and pharma. The message is very clear - 'There is no medicine and your health is your responsibility'.  This means that all health trends have been amplified, some more than others."

The report explains which market 'gamechangers' and trends have reached mass market appeal as a result of COVID-19.

Food for Health & Wellbeing 

In explaining the 'Food for Health and Wellbeing' gamechanger, the report states: "Consumers have become more proactive when it comes to health and functional foods claims. They are more conscious about the effect nutrition can have on their body and how effective it can be in preventing diseases. Mental wellbeing and self-care are now evolving into preventative health and a holistic approach becomes the best solution."

Under the umbrella of this market 'gamechanger', comes a trend which HMT names 'Natural immunity or everyone​', which describes how consumers are looking to consume food and drink with ingredients which will naturally help them improve their immunity.

One example of a product category which has transitioned from niche to mass market appeal due to this trend, is kombucha. This used to be a little known product but now it is available in all supermarkets and many people are even making their own at home.

Another trend driven by this health and wellbeing gamechanger, is 'The lockdown effect​', which refers to the growing interest in products which support mental health. In fact, HMT says 82% of UK adults report having experienced stress because of the pandemic while 53% of US consumers aged 18-34 are experiencing moderate-to-high pandemic distress. 

The report explains: "Botanicals and adaptogens are excepted in way more positive way than caffeine and other sometimes artificially-sounding nootropics. Calming ingredients such as chamomile, cacao, lavender and CBD can be seen in relaxing drink as well as in food products.

"New launches target sleep support as poor sleep can lead to impaired immunity and an overall imbalance in the body. We are also about to see many products with natural adaptogens such as ashwaganda, rhodiolarosea, Maca or ginseng as well as medicinal mushrooms since these support body’s natural ability to deal with stress."

The pandemic-driven trend for nootropic ingredients, especially those providing stress and sleep support, was exemplified in this NutraIngredients report​ from summer 2020, discussing how the nootropic supplement brand Motion Nutrition had seen a huge online sales spike in April.  

An example of a brand which has tapped into this trend is Naked Collective's (UK) new ImmunoBoost drinks range offering a "supercharged blend of Beta Glucan and plant-based vitamins and minerals, as well as chamomile and guarantee positive vibes from morning meeting to night-time wind-down".


The Technology gamechanger refers to the increasing use of iNutrition strategies and it encompasses a number of trends, including the 'food meets AI'​ trend.

HMT's report explains: "The fast evolving capabilities of AI suggest that it may not be long before we can rely on the technology to make our nutrition choices for us, based on our personal preferences and health requirements. The artificial intelligence in the food and beverage market is expected to register a CAGR of over 65.3% between a period of 2020 –2025.(Mordor Intelligence, 2019)"

One example of a brand which has tapped into this trend is MyAir​. This company sells personalised, stress-countering nutrition bars featuring adaptogens and plant-based ingredients. Its algorithm monitors each customer’s personal stress levels through online questionnaires and physiological data via a smart watch, and sends them nutritional bars chosen based on specific stress profiles and cognitive needs.

Meet them at the crossroads

When the trend shifts from niche to mass market appeal, HMT refers to this moment as the ‘crossroads’.

But what can stop a niche trend moving to mass market appeal? The report lists the barriers: Antipathy, created through exclusivity or premium positioning; Complicated nutrition, with ingredients lists and health messages that confuse; taste compromise; and price compromise.

On the other hand, the firm says the 'triggers' in play in mass adoption are: Availability, which can refer to distribution channels and price point; familiarity, referring to easy to understand benefits; Acceptance, such as by focusing on ingredients or health benefits which are well trusted and understood, or by leveraging a well-trusted parent brand; Awareness, through education of the issue the product solves.

When a trend reaches the crossroads, this is a good time for brands to tap into trends.

But to be successful in tapping into this trend, HMT says there are four key rules at play in mass adoption of a product: fit my routine​, it has to be easy enough for a consumer to start using the product, whether that be through format, availability, easy delivery; simplicity​, through understandable ingredients, concepts, health benefits; reduce risk​, through tapping into familiar formats, flavours and ingredients with high awareness; and finally, the product must be tempting​, through flavour, smell, texture.

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