Unlocking the potential of the active nutrition evolution

By Olivia Haslam

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images - Business opportunities / Klaus Vedfelt
Getty Images - Business opportunities / Klaus Vedfelt

Related tags Sports nutrition Sports nutrition products Sports nutrition sector active nutrition lifestyle wellness Collagen women's health

The shift from sports nutrition to active nutrition creates unique challenges and opportunities for brands, as they navigate the evolving consumer demands which have increased both risk and reward factors.

This was the message provided by Nick Morgan, founder of market insights firm Nutrition Integrated, at the Active Nutrition Summit in Amsterdam last week, as he provided a presentation shedding light on the shifting landscape of nutrition categories.

Morgan explained that there has been a broadening from sports nutrition to active nutrition, highlighting that active nutrition is more inclusive and embraces everyday health and wellness occasions. 

He asserted: “In the world of performance moving into health, the prize is bigger, but the navigation is harder, which means the challenge is for the industry to bind together and consider how to approach consumers in the right way.” 

He emphasised that active nutrition is not merely an extension of sports nutrition; it's part of a more extensive health and wellness landscape. 

“There is a misinterpretation that sports nutrition has morphed into active nutrition - but it hasn’t. It’s been engulfed by a much bigger landscape, and in fact, sports nutrition is a fundamental component of active nutrition.” 

He noted the widening of the demographic “represents people thinking about long-term health and it's very much based on being more inclusive.”

Morgan explained that brands have been looking to make products more democratised, meaning where they were originally designed to help achieve a performance goal, they are now moving into a space that emulates a more natural, convenient product, allowing the brand to appeal beyond the audience of gym-goers.

He noted that this transition is being facilitated by the “expansion of the landscape” of products, explaining that where sports nutrition used to be defined by protein powders, it now includes dietary supplements, energy products, and convenience foods. 

Areas for expansion

Morgan gave an overview of how brands can pivot to meet the changing demands of consumers, such as incorporating collagen products, branching into the health and wellness sector, or redefining protein bars.

He added that there are key areas in need of further development, such as women’s health, as some companies have already begun to, explaining: “You can now find products for the menstrual cycle, pre and post-pregnancy, vaginal health, menopause and perimenopause, mood, and skin.

“They are interrelated to this ‘women's health’ category, and what's interesting is the fact that it has correlated with breaking the taboo.” 

He explained that all these categories are all parts of active nutrition, noting: “Female athletes will have to encounter lots of these challenges.” 

Although he added that, as a category, the commercial outcomes “are in a very different place”.

“Last year only 6% of research was dedicated to females over males, but with brand presence and communication on social media, consumers are increasingly aware that more research on the active female consumer needs to be done.

“Everyone is thinking about women's health, particularly within the functional wellness place more than it is in sports nutrition, and there’s potentially a huge area of growth commercially in this space."

Brand navigation​ 

For brands looking to adapt to these broadening horizons, Morgan emphasised the need for brands to own specific niches within the active nutrition landscape. 

However, he acknowledged the complexity of navigating the active nutrition space, with various subcategories and consumers' evolving expectations.

Morgan added that he predicts the future will bring more reimagined products and solutions within active nutrition, breaking taboos, emphasising engineered naturalness, and providing memorable experiences.

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