The growing consumer interest in sleep and mental health supporting ingredients has been a topic of discussion since the pandemic hit in early 2020. It was exemplified by a consumer survey by FMCG Gurus, which found that 66% of global consumers are interested in products which can improve sleep quality (July 2020) while 58% of consumers expressed interest in products that can help alleviate their stress levels (April/May 2020).
In fact, growth in mood support and relaxing supplements has out-paced the total supplements growth (Euromonitor consumer health data 2021) across the globe.
In a recent Mintel podcast, analysts from across the health and wellness, beauty, and food and drink spaces discussed the growing opportunity for brands to tap into this trend.
They note that few have ventured into this space so far, despite the clear consumer appetite for all thing calming, and discuss their tips for those who do want to make it in this mindful market.
Alex Becket, associate director, food and drink, at Mintel, explains that whilst tasty, often indulgent, food and drink has always provided some sort of mood boost, as consumers have become more health conscious as a result of the pandemic, more attention has turned to functional products with scientifically backed ingredients.
“We’ve seen more food and drink products with added mood boosting ingredients which aim to provide consumers with a middle ground – a food that they would enjoy anyway but supplemented with an approved nutrient.”
Becket points out that it’s that ‘approved’ element which is a challenging task in Europe, with such strict legislation around what claims can be made on pack and it’s for this reason that very few products are making any outright claims.
He says another reason for the slow speed of mental health focused functional food and drink launched may simply be that brands still feel this is a very niche need state that isn’t wort investing in.
What’s more, there is a large challenge for brands around trust and offering value for money with products making any sort of ‘calming’ claim.
“Of course, consumers want support to feel calmer and with de-stressing at the end of the day but they need to trust that what is claimed will be delivered.
“For these reasons, brands have been more likely to add very general terms like ‘tranquility’ to their packaging rather than making clear claims that their product will calm the consumer down.”
Andrea Wroble, senior health and wellness research analyst for Mintel Reports US, notes that when consumers are struggling with any mental health issues they are most likely to turn to friends and family, before turning to doctors or products so the trust issue is definitely an important one to overcome for any brand looking to get into this space.
Andrew McDougall, associate director, beauty, adds that another important communication hurdle, alongside trust, is the importance of inclusivity. Whether it be with the pronouns used or avoiding using terms like ‘normal’, the younger generations are more aware than ever if a brand is not being inclusive in their communication.
“Gen Z are a fascinating audience to focus on. They are labelled as the ‘loneliest’ generation but they are also the most open to talking about mental health.”
It’s for this reason that brands which have a clear ‘mission’ are particularly appealing tot his generation of consumers, as long as the message is authentic and in-keeping with the brand.
Home as the sanctuary
Wroble points out that consumers have built strong connections with their homes during the pandemic, with 43% of adults saying that being home more often has helped them feel more in control over their health.
“Consumers have ended up viewing the home as a place to care for their emotional and physical wellbeing.”
And staying at home for many has provided the opportunity to develop new, mindful, rituals, adds McDougall.
“Rituals have given consumers the chance to focus on something other than the pandemic or any other worries.”
Brands which can offer the consumer some sort of ritual or that can be integrated into existing rituals may therefore appeal.
Communities of comfort
The analysts note that many consumers have turned to online communities to help them through the pandemic. Some of these communities have been created by brands, while other communities offer opportunities for brand partnerships.
These communities give brands the opportunity to help their consumers to feel less alone and to feel involved in something bigger.
McDougall notes: “The gaming market, for example, is a huge one for brands to tap into.
“There are so many beauty brands using their platforms to open up conversations about mental health. This helps people to look to help themselves as well as others, while reducing some of the stigma around the topic.”