This year, I resolve to worry, and weigh, less.
As cliché as New Years weight loss resolutions may sound, you don’t need to take if from a 24 Hour Fitness membership specialist; there’s money to be had here and now. Is your business positioned to monetize this momentary motivation?
Hot on the trail, Pollock Communications—a marketing and PR agency specializing in health and wellness—surveyed more than 200 registered dieticians to find out what they’re hearing in terms of top trending diets. Here’s how Americans are looking to lose this year. Act on these resolution solutions before dietary drive dwindles next month.
Low-carb and low-fat diets are old news. Consumers are ditching commercial diet programs, instead opting to hop on the gluten-free bandwagon. Interestingly, this is not a recommendation registered dieticians are necessarily making for weight loss, because they feel the research has yet to support it, revealed Pollock Communications President, Louise Pollock in an interview with Adrienne Mitchell of the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch Radio Network. Pollock went on to say that nevertheless, food companies ought to take note and advantage of this trend, marketing products accordingly.
Jeff Wright of Wright's Nutrients in New Port Richey, Fla., says there's still steam in controlled-carb diets, with gluten-free in particular holding a "nice, steady increase and [product] movement for us." Wright reports, "I wouldn't say that I'm seeing a big jump just because of end of the year and resolutions."
Similar to the gluten-free movement in ideology but packaged with a less daunting label, Wheat Belly—based on the popular book—is another buzzed-about diet consumers follow that advocates losing the wheat to lose the weight.
Social media is on the upswing as a source for dietary information, be it as an avenue to reach a registered dietician or a venue for healthful recipes. Be sure your store or brand is out front and clickable among these increasingly regarded resources by getting creative with it: pinning beautiful pictures of healthful, brand-related recipes on Pinterest or hosting your own slim-down challenge via social media channels.
Also for the ever plugged-in, web and mobile weight-management tools abound, the latter of which often include nutritional information from hundreds of brands for calorie-tracking purposes. These apps are also frequently social media compatible and even feature community-based forums such as MyFitnessPal, so follow the conversations happening there and join in with advice, customer success stories and other fitting tidbits.
To keep the weight-management mojo flowing, "We usually suggest trying to find some way for accountability," explains Wright, naming the store's nutritionists/herbalists and smart phone apps as worthwhile means to that end. Even better, a professional/technological one-two punch will surely rouse anyone on the verge of quitting. "One of our nutritionists is using Lose It! specifically." This staff member engages a friend-able group, to whom she provides encouragement and answers to questions.
"If you have a couple of employees who have interest or are doing something and you make a community out of it, draw some attention to it—doesn't necessarily have to be an end cap—then that helps create awareness for your customers," Wright says. "And if you create your own little community, I think that gives the smaller store an edge."
Currently, conscious consumers are on the hunt for natural, simple foods with fewer, minimally-processed ingredients. Pollock cites tea as an example here for its straightforward, no-sugar needed nature, which has brought about consumption increases. Not just reserved for products thought to be traditionally healthy, companies of all categories—including several potato chip makers, according to Pollock—are responding by slashing items from ingredient lists.
Good old fashioned common sense
Mom's daily demand to "Eat your fruits and veggies!" still makes for good advice today—though maybe not as naggingly so. This portion of the pyramid remains king, reports Pollock, who says that adding canned, frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables is still a major dietician recommendation and easy option for great health benefits. It's also a no-brainer way dieters can make their calories count with nutrient-dense choices, another of the study's consumer preference findings.
Right on cue, Dave Austin, store manager at Westridge Market in Ojai, Calif., notes a sales spike in the fresh produce department, in addition to the diet and supplement section. "As opposed to getting a canned corn, they're going to buy fresh corn," he says. "Our produce numbers after the holidays are fantastic, so I think people are eating fresh ingredients and cooking at home as opposed to grabbing fast food or eating at restaurants. There's definitely an increase of people who are preparing meals from scratch ingredients as opposed to buying frozen food/premade meals."
Tapering off at just as swift a clip, Austin doesn't display to accommodate this short-lived sales pattern. "By the time we would get merchandise schematics set or some way of maybe pushing those items, it's going to fade away just as quickly. So we don't necessarily cater to the trend, but it's definitely noticeable."
In contrast, Wright devotes some highly visible in-store real estate to weight loss/management and cleansing. "Right at the end of the year, after the Christmas rush is kind of over, we will build an end cap and/or floor displays specifically for the New Year's resolutions," he explains. A few end-cap-worthy trends: green coffee beans, raspberry keytones, passion flower, Natural Factors' PGX, the Dr. Oz factor on everything and the Paleo diet. "That also helps bring additional focus for people who may not have made this the destination for those products, but go 'Oh, yeah I wanted to do that, too.'"
With self-betterment programmed into our psyche ever since we’ve been old enough to understand the meaning of the word “resolution,” brands and retailers should be poised to make the most of these opportunities while weight loss—and the respective products—are still top of mind. After all, Valentine-consumed February in all its chocolate glory is right around the corner.