Transparency, authenticity, tailored messaging, and sustainability considerations are crucial for success in this market, he says.
Shift in attitudes
Hughes notes that there has been a significant shift in consumer attitudes from a "health at all costs" mindset to one of "considered health.”
He explains that the tumultuous events of the COVID-19 pandemic have led consumers to seek out products that offer various benefits and are associated with effective ingredients and claims.
However, he does comment that this urgency has mellowed in recent years, and consumers are now more discerning about the quality and efficacy of the claims made by health and wellness products.
Key drivers of consumer choices
Hughes explains that transparency and authenticity emerge as essential factors driving consumer choices in the healthy ageing market, noting that consumers are increasingly skeptical of industry claims, especially during recessionary times when premium-priced products are scrutinised more closely.
He says that the industry's emphasis on transparency and substantiated claims is key to building trust with consumers.
He also notes that products positioned as compromise-free and hassle-free gain traction among consumers.
Within the convenience bracket, he explains that taste plays a vital role in consumer acceptance, as even the most effective products may struggle to succeed if they do not appeal to consumers' palates.
The aspiration factor is also crucial, with products and ingredients being positioned as “exciting, fun, and cool” to engage consumers' interest and motivate their adoption.
Tailoring to different age demographics
Hughes does however emphasise that an aspirational positioning of products isn't universally applicable across all age demographics.
He notes that each age group has unique preferences and needs, which must be considered when developing products, stating that while younger demographics often focus on performance and active nutrition, the older demographic seeks products that support cognitive health and overall well-being.
His advice to companies developing products for the healthy ageing consumer is that tailoring messaging and product positioning is crucial.
Elevating sustainability considerations
Sustainability is an important consideration for consumers interested in healthy ageing products, Hughes notes.
While not the primary driving force, environmental consciousness influences consumer choices, and products that are both good for the individual and the environment gain traction.
To maximize the impact of sustainability claims, tying them to additional benefits beyond sustainability itself can make them more influential in consumers' decision-making.
Future trends and challenges
Looking ahead, two major trends are emerging in the healthy ageing nutrition space according to Hughes.
First, the growing focus on gut microbiome health presents a significant opportunity for product development, as consumers are increasingly recognising the link between digestive health and overall well-being, driving demand for products that support gut health.
Secondly, he notes that the rising raw material prices will pose a challenge for the industry.
Consumers will become more cautious and considerate in their purchasing decisions, seeking validation of claims and value for their money.