'Health driven consumers are passionate, conflicted and disrupting your business': The Hartman Group

By Niamh Michail contact

- Last updated on GMT

'Today’s consumers want to be able to buy indulgent health and wellness products anywhere,' says Shelley Balanko, senior vice president of global consultancy firm The Hartman Group. © iStock
'Today’s consumers want to be able to buy indulgent health and wellness products anywhere,' says Shelley Balanko, senior vice president of global consultancy firm The Hartman Group. © iStock

Related tags: Nutrition

Consumers are in conflict – they want food that is indulgent, healthy and convenient. But this conflict also opens up big opportunities to companies who know where to look for the next trend, says one consumer analyst.

The first step for new product developers in tapping into today's food and nutrition trends is to understand the consumer base and identify where, on the  health and wellness continuum, consumers fall. And since the continuum is not based on demographic factors such as age, gender, ethnicity or religion, it can be applied in any country or culture, according to Shelley Balanko, senior vice president of global consultancy firm The Hartman Group. 

There are three segments: the smallest is known as 'the core' and while it constitutes only around 13% of the population it is made up of the "gurus and evangelists"​ - these are the individuals who are actively interested in health, nutrition and wellness and will be spotting and setting future trends, Balanko told FoodNavigator.

Meanwhile around one quarter of consumers can be placed in ‘the periphery’ – they are not very involved or aspirational about their health and wellness objectives, and the rest fall into ‘the mid-level’ biggest group.

“The [mid-level consumers] are engaged and trying to learn more about health and wellness –  they are going on company websites and looking for new solutions but they are struggling with the challenges of modern life,” ​said Balanko. “They represent a really large and desirable [consumer segment] for most food and beverage manufacturers.”

“It’s important to understand what’s happening in the core and to look to that for inspiration. It’s also useful in terms of the time-frame, because we know it takes 3-5 years to get a product from inception to market. So if you look to the core for inspiration that will allow you time to get your product to the market just in time as the trend is becoming mainstream. You won’t be the second or third company to be ‘following’ the trend.”

The most successful companies will be the ones that show they are empathetic to this conflict, 

This could mean thinking of new ways at getting products to consumers by expanding retails channels – “because today’s consumers want to be able to buy indulgent health and wellness products anywhere.”

Biodynamic: The new organic

So what is trending? Ingredients that have an inherent functionality such as herbs and botanicals can boost a product’s healthy status, and are seen as healthier than added vitamins. Think Matcha tea, cold-pressed juices and instant powdered mushrooms.

Another way is to go beyond organic and get biodynamic certification. “[This is] one area where we’ve seen European consumers are ahead of US consumers. We’re just beginning to see this bubble up as an indicator if quality and authenticity that goes beyond organic, and this is for packaged foods as well.”

The Demeter logo, which certifies food products as being produced according to its holistic biodynamic requirements – is being increasingly seen, and an online database allows consumers to search for biodynamic Demeter-certified products in categories as diverse as baby food, drinks, spices, fruit and vegetables.

Interested in finding out more about what’s driving health conscious consumers and the potential for your business?

Book your place now at FOOD VISION 2016​ where Shelly Balanko will give a presentation  “Health driven consumers: Passionate, conflicted and disrupting your business.”

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