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Consumer Motivations for Health and Wellness Surge

A new study can help retailers and brands set the table for discerning consumers
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Grocery retailers understand that their shoppers are more concerned about what they eat and what effects food and beverages have on their health than ever before. A quick walk through just about every grocery store in the U.S. will prove the point. More plant-based, more keto, more kombucha, more CBD—the list goes on and on.

A study from Social Standards Inc. adds new contextualized analysis of the motivations that are driving consumers to health and wellness, including a finding that online consumer conversations about it have swelled 60% over last year to more than 6 million conversations in February 2019.

Social Standards identifies four motivators that drive most diets: eating responsibly, avoiding allergens, losing weight and carb conscious.

Eating responsibly has grown by 26% in the 12 months ending in February 2019 and is led by both Generation X and baby boomers, who make in excess of $75,000 per year, are animal lovers and are into vegan and vegetarian cooking. Their goal is to support animal rights, sustainability and social justice. There is little doubt as you walk through a supermarket or trade shows like the recent Summer Fancy Food Show that more and more new products are being developed that fall into this category. Plant-based diets, for example, index 8.4 times for this consumer.

Avoiding allergens, which saw year-over-year growth of 30%, is also being led by Gen X and boomers, especially females who are into cooking and fans of health and fitness. The Food Allergy Research & Education group estimates that there are more than 32 million Americans who have food allergies, including 5.6 million children under age 18—which equates to 1 in 13 children allergic to more than one food. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the prevalence of food allergies in children increased by 50% from 1997 to 2011 and that in roughly the same period the prevalence of peanut or tree nut allergies more than tripled. Gluten-free diets index 17 times more and FODMAP diets 14 times. It’s also important to note that these consumers also index high (6.1 times) for plant-based diets, adding even more fuel to this category’s rampant growth.

Losing weight has long been a struggle for many Americans. While the diet du jour seems to take all the headlines and attention, this group has increased its conversations by 43%—which, not surprisingly, is being led by keto (17 times), low-carb (16 times) and low-calorie (14 times). Issues that still rank in the top five among diet-seeking consumers are high fat (9.8 times) and Atkins (7 times). Most surprising is that this motivator for health and wellness is being led by a much younger consumer, those 21 to 24 years old, who live in families and are into working out. They also happen to report a 1.7 times index for meal kits.

Carb conscious, although showing up in the losing weight motivators, had the strongest percent growth (104%) in the number of conversations and is being led by older millennials, Gen Xers and boomers, with a whopping 89th percentile being concerned about diabetes. These groups’ diet preferences are low-carb (42 times index), keto (27 times), high-fat (24 times), sugar-free (19 times) and Atkins (15 times).

This road map from Social Standards’ Consumer Analytics offers retailers and brands a strong platform for comparing their customer base with these findings and where they align in order to expand and showcase products that meet these consumer needs.

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