This was the take home message from Will Cowling, marketing manager at FMCG Gurus, when he presented new consumer data at Probiota 2023.
Discussing the change in attitudes created by the pandemic, Cowling revealed that between 2019 and 2021 there was a 10% increase in consumers adopting a more long-term approach to health, a 25% increase in self-education surrounding health, and an 18% rise in those taking a greater interest in ingredients in food and drink that are known to boost health.
The good news for the probiotics industry is that this proactive approach to health is mirrored in the fact that 51% of consumers said they started using probiotics even though they were not suffering symptoms.
The market analyst said: “This is a real positive for the industry and it shows that consumers recognise the benefits of probiotics and see them as something that can actually help facilitate their healthy lifestyles in general.”
Value for money
However, the proportion of consumers who say that they are concerned about rising living costs sits above 65% globally, Cowling reports.
As a result consumers are reducing expenditure across the board, with 49% reporting they are looking to reduce spending money on treats and confectionary, in comparison to 24% looking to reduce what they spend on health and wellness products.
For customers opting not to purchase probiotics, 30% said they didn’t need them, 31% percent said they didn’t know what they were used for, and 51% said they were too pricey.
This reveals three key hurdles: lack of awareness and education around the health benefits and lack of perception of value for money.
“The cost of living crisis will impact the industry, and brands need to focus on offering maximum value as opposed to the cheapest price product,” advised Cowling.
He explained that one way to create a perception of value for money is with tasty food and drink products which provide convenience and sensory appeal – two strong purchase drivers.
In fact, FMCG Gurus’ data reveals food and drink are the most popular format for probiotics, with it being a preference for 74% of consumers and only 14% choosing probiotics in pill form.
Cowling added that scientific backing is another way to provide value for money, saying that consumers feel “efficacy is synonymous with value.”
“Brands need to provide scientific evidence where possible to support health claims made, and nutritional supplements market needs to look for ways to enhance the perceptions of value when it comes to probiotics.”
At the same time, consumers will want reassurance that products are safe to use.
“It's crucial that these products are deemed to be trustworthy and safe. This is especially true and important at the time when consumers are most cost conscious and risk averse, and therefore transparency is going to be key to the health and wellness market moving forward,” Cowling states.