Nutiani’s newly released “Top 10 Health and Nutrition Trends for 2024” data infographic is based on Consumer Health and Nutrition Index 2023, an online survey it co-conducted with market research firm Ipsos.
A total of 2,500 consumers aged 18 to 80 from China, Japan, South Korea, the UK and US participated in the survey held last June. In particular, the results revealed the impact of inflationary pressures on consumer behaviour in the health and wellness space.
Significantly, price was chosen as the top factor behind purchasing decisions, with 41% of respondents indicating that their food and nutrition choices have been impacted by inflation.
“As consumers adapt their spending habits to combat rising costs, we see them prioritising their needs over wants. Despite rising costs of living, the importance consumers are giving to health and well-being is still growing. When we conducted the first iteration of this survey in 2021, 55% of respondents cited health and wellness-related issues as a top concern.
“Our latest survey showed that the number has jumped to nearly 60%. There is also a strong belief in the role that nutrition plays, with over eight in 10 agreeing that it can improve health status,” Rebecca Cuthbertson, Head of Marketing, Advanced Nutrition at Fonterra, told NutraIngredients-Asia.
According to the survey findings, consumers from Japan, UK and US are most likely to make their purchasing decisions based on price.
“Some 58% of Japanese consumers recognise price as the top product attribute that affects their purchase decision, which is an increase from previous years and has the highest proportion across the five surveyed markets.”
Notably, the influence of price appears to increase with age — older consumers aged between 55 and 64 were the most likely to buy based on price, while younger cohorts aged between 16 to 44 were the least price-conscious.
At the same time, 53% of the respondents are focused on buying only the essentials, with nearly half reducing impulse purchases. This includes cutting back on indulgent products, such as snacks.
“However, consumers are not completely giving up their comfort foods, with 47% indicating that they are looking for cheaper alternatives to their favourite products and brands. Furthermore, one in four respondents said that they will purchase fewer but better-quality products, signalling greater discernment for quality.”
Value beyond low prices
As consumers reassess their spending choices, products with high value-for-money are gaining favour. For example, 51% of respondents stated a preference for products with multiple health benefits.
“When talking about value, we must first dispel the myth that it is created solely through low prices. Value goes beyond the basic price-to-quantity ratio to a bigger focus on value-for-money — the benefits a consumer can derive from a product for the price that they pay for it.
“Although price is certainly a central consideration for value, there are other factors that shape consumers’ understanding of a product’s value. In our survey, ‘scientifically proven ingredients’ ranked second for the product attribute contributing to [the perception of] value-for-money in over one-third of respondents,” Cuthbertson explained.
Specifically, over six in 10 respondents were influenced by scientifically proven ingredients and evidence of efficacy. More than half of the respondents also trust in certifications by reputable sources, institutions, or healthcare professionals.
As such, “clear communication” of ingredients used, along with clinically backed claims, is vital for raising the value of a product.
Cuthbertson cited the example of Chinese brand Leli’s Instant Probiotics Powder, which contains Nutiani’s HN001 and HN019 probiotic strains alongside 15 others.
“The benefits of these probiotic strains are supported by extensive scientific research spanning more than 80 peer-reviewed publications across animal and human studies that document their effects on digestive and immune health.
“Health claims backed by robust evidence are likely to strengthen consumers’ perception of a product’s credibility and quality, which in turn boosts value.”
With the continued attention on health and well-being, consumer demand for nutrition products that address individual health concerns is expected to persist.
“Finding the right ways to elevate the value proposition of such products in line with consumer priorities will be crucial for food and nutrition brands.
“The increasing popularity of dairy protein and probiotics, which was another key trend observed, demonstrates how consumers are making changes as they become more aware of how certain ingredients can aid in managing diverse health concerns.”
Additionally, consumers worldwide are increasingly seeking solutions to improve mental well-being, particularly sleep quality. This trend is reflected in the survey, where “feeling mentally well” was the most-chosen definition of being healthy.
“The Consumer Health and Nutrition Index survey is part of ongoing research by Nutiani to build a comprehensive understanding of consumer attitudes and behaviours towards health and nutrition.
“We believe that these insights will go a long way in supporting brands on their research and development of innovative products to deliver the greatest value to consumers. A new report that dives into shifting consumer preferences in further detail against the backdrop of inflation is slated to be released in the first half of 2024,” said Cuthbertson.