In a recent Euromonitor International webinar, firm analysts uncover the results of global consumer surveys looking at how the pandemic has affected consumer perceptions and shopping habits regarding health, food and supplements.
Matt Oster, head of consumer health at Euromonitor, points out that in the voice of the industry survey firm COVID-19 (April / July / October 2020), consumers were asked how they think buying and spending habits will change as a result i pandemi. The consensus view was that interest in health and wellness-related products – of which vitamins and supplements are among the most prominent – would have considerable staying power.
“I think this expectation is intuitive and I think OTC companies need to consider,” Says Oster. “COVID has left an incomparable impression on consumer behavior, so many of the trends purchased by COVID are likely to remain at least for the short term.
“Among these trends are the shift towards products focused on prevention and immunity, and the longer the focus remains on immunity in 2021, the more likely it is that these will remain a permanent interest in the future.”
The latest Euromonitor Health and Nutrition Survey, conducted in January and February 2021, saw an overall increase in reported use of these products, Oster says.
Overall, 31% of consumers stated that they use vitamins and dietary supplements every day or almost every day in 2021, compared to 26% in 2020 before the pandemic and 24% in 2019. The countries that saw the biggest jumps in the number of users were United Kingdom (41%, by 33%) and USA (53%, by 45%).
“These numbers suggest that consumers will continue to prioritize supplementation as a critical component of healthy lifestyles and disease prevention.” Says Oster.
Trusted sources of information
The pandemic also affected where people were able to get information and, as such, the survey reveals a change in the trust that consumers will make in digital information sources.
In 2020 and 2021, Euromonitor asked consumers to list different sources of health information in terms of their reliability and found that while health experts remained in the top three over the two years, ‘friends and family’ and ‘ the trainer or fitness trainer ‘dropped the rankings, presumably because consumers were less likely to use these resources during the block.
While the ‘virtual doctor’ went up by 9thAt 6thThe country and the pharmaceutical industries and healthcare related websites were ranked both higher in 2021 as consumers became more satisfied with using the internet to learn about health. In fact, 42% of respondents said they were “very” or “extremely” comfortable to consult a therapist online or through an app in 2021.
Oster says consumer interest and engagement with digital health solutions is a great opportunity for health and nutrition companies and will inevitably lead to more investment and purchases in this space.
What does ‘being healthy’ mean to consumers?
When consumers were asked what it means to be ‘healthy’ for them, ‘mental well-being’ emerged as the main concern (64% of respondents chose it), closely followed by ‘having a healthy immune system’ ‘(63%). ‘Feeling good’ was chosen by 59%, as well as ‘getting enough sleep’.
‘Absence of disease’ was chosen by 57% of respondents, 55% chose ’emotional well-being’ and 55% chose ‘maintaining a healthy weight’.
These choices are in line with the growing demand reported mainly for ‘holistic health’. Stress is a factor that consumers across the globe have rated as a critical concern and the Euromonitor survey reveals that 57% of global respondents suffer from at least ‘moderate’ levels of stress.
Oster says this is meeting with an increase in the number of respondents who are dissatisfied with stress reduction products, suggesting an opportunity for innovation.
Health concerns in 2020 and 2021 show that concerns about a wide range of issues have increased. There has been a particular jump in concerns about eye health, stress and anxiety and sleep problems, most likely due to blockages that people spend more time at home.
Perhaps most surprisingly, there has also been a jump in the number of consumers concerned about joint and muscle pain, headaches and allergy care.
Oster explains: “I think the connection here is that consumers do not want to show symptoms that could confuse them with COVID-19.”
He adds: “A key by-product of the movement towards prevention and complementarity is the growing demand for transparency and confidence in the strongest ingredients in the demand for ‘natural’ products.”
Euromonitor surveys also reveal a jump in the number of people exercising since the COVID-19 strike, with this particularly evident in the group of consumers who were already exercising pre-pandemic.
Oster suggests this is likely due to people looking for ways to reduce their stress and break the monotony of the day, adding that “part of this extended consideration for healthy living, nutrition and prevention of diseases “.
He says the rising rates of exercise at home and outside the gym suggest opportunities for marketing messages about these activities such as cycling and endurance running.