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Monitor: Consumers track health habits and challenge brands and retailers to keep up

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New consumer research in Nutrition Business Journal’s 2021 Personalized Nutrition Report reveals a significant number of Americans are tracking their diets and physical activity and are changing their habits in response to the data.

Natural Products Industry Health Monitor, March 12, 2021
 
A global lockdown might make weeks feel like months and months weigh like centuries, but business allows little room for ennui. As distracting as the daily inundation of the negative can be, the time to look forward is always now. In this feature, New Hope Network provides that right-now-right-here update. Look for the Industry Health Monitor every other Friday to learn the major news that is affecting the natural products market immediately and the less obvious insights that could dictate where the market may struggle or thrive in the months to come.
 

Consider this: Consumers are keeping track of health habits through technology

Americans are taking it personally.

Whether it’s a concern about health and specifically immunity that gave the dietary supplement industry its best year ever for growth, or the collective groan about the so-called "COVID 10,” people are paying attention to their health and habits. New consumer research in Nutrition Business Journal's 2021 Personalized Nutrition Report says that attention for many has been boosted by technology.

Significant numbers of consumers are tracking their activities and diets and nearly two-thirds said they were using tracking technology to do so. Among respondents, 40% said they were quantifying distance walked or counting steps and 38% said they were tracking physical activity or workouts. A smaller number, 26%, were tracking their sleep, but among the most notable numbers in the research was that roughly 25% of consumers reported that they were tracking their diet.

The importance of these findings for brands and retailers is what consumers say they are doing with this information. Among people who said they were tracking something, 37% said they had altered their diet and 25% said they had started taking a dietary supplement.

Whether or not the "COVID 10" or a more troubling recent study that calculates pandemic weight gain at 2 pounds a month belies all these alleged intentions, the natural products industry needs to be paying attention to the fact that consumers are paying attention to their health and daily habits in very detailed ways.

For retailers, that means figuring out a way to not get left behind as the personalized nutrition market gains steam. Companies selling supplements alongside testing and other personalization models are using subscription programs, which leave retail out entirely, but a new company profiled in NBJ’s Market Overview Issue can create personalized vitamin packets branded for stores.

For dietary supplement companies, the challenge could be more complex as fitting branded supplements into the packet model may prove difficult. Premium brands could face challenges downsizing margins to find a place in what is taking shape as a new channel.

Much of the natural products industry has been built on a subset of consumers who are reading labels. Some of those same consumers are beginning to apply similar scrutiny to their own habits. Tracking steps is nothing; the Apple Watch can already read users’ heart rates. Rumors hold that the next release will track blood sugar as well. Easier ways to track diets are surely in the pipeline.

Americans are paying attention. The saying goes that if you can measure it you can manage it, and the measurements are piling up. Opportunities will go to the brands that find a way to match up with new habits driven by new technology.

Natural Products Industry Health Monitor indexes

 

Consumer behavior indexes measure dramatic shifts in consumer behaviors as we march through COVID that is compared to a 2017 “normal” benchmark before COVID-19 emerged. These indexes are assessed through monthly surveys of how consumers perceive their shopping behaviors.

The natural products industry investment index measures dramatic shifts in investment activity as we march through COVID-19 that is compared to a 2019 “normal” benchmark before COVID-19 emerged. Nutrition Capital Network monitors monthly financial activity in the natural products industry.

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