Game Changing trends: The storytelling strategies for brand success

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Getty | ra2studio
Getty | ra2studio

Related tags Trends Consumers health & wellbeing Gut health

Consumer expectation of health and wellbeing focused food and drink has evolved so quickly that the big trends of last year are already outdated but here are the newest trends and the key strategies for success.

After its insightful Global Gamechanger Report for 2019​, health and wellness brand strategy and innovation consultancy HMT (Healthy Marketing Team) has pulled together its latest consumer research and cultural consumer research to help brands understand emerging consumer beliefs for 2020 and provide insight into how to bond with the younger consumers - the ones behind the emerging trends and who respond to the emerging brands.

HMT's founder and senior consultant Peter Wennström says this year's report emphasises the importance of storytelling for brands looking to connect with consumers of today.

"The trio – trend, consumer, brand - is what you must be able to manage to be successful with your brand innovation. And it is the storytelling that joins the dots and forges the bond between your brand and your consumers. This is the purpose of this report. To help you develop the Stories To Tell for Brand Success in 2020!"

He explains that the "power of belief" is strong, with consumers connecting with brands that exemplify their beliefs. When bonding is done right, brands will enjoy unpaid endorsements of products on social media and in communities, with influential consumers “spreading the gospel” of what they love about the brand.

However, bonding done wrong can leads to trouble. The report warns: “You risk alienating them, being dismissed by them as a fake, or worse insulting them by being seen as a hypocrite trying to exploit their values for your gain.”

Gamechangers of 2020

1. Food for Health and Wellbeing

Consumers are realising that what they consume has a direct impact on how they feel and on their overall wellbeing.

HMT’s key strategy for this consumer mindset is “active nutrition” which focuses on education before claims and a shift away from commodity, towards added value.

Trends within this strategy include: synbiotics and my gut instinct; new sugars; and optimal nourishment.

HMT argues that the “old” way of providing gut health products was through products emphasising the power of probiotics. An example it gives is Activia yogurts.

It says that the new story is for products to offer a combination of pro and prebiotics as a complete gut health combination. An example it gives is Uplift 

uplift cookies

Foods Gut Happy Cookies​, from the US, and last year's NI Probiota Pioneers winner Nouri​. This supplement is claimed to be the only product on the market to deliver the combined power of probiotics and plant-based omega oil..

What’s more, the report points out that savvy consumers are starting to pay attention to how much fiber they consume and they even recognising that there are different types of fibres.

“Synbiotics are being used in an ever-growing number of products. Lifestyle influencers tell you that you can find prebiotics in onion, garlic, bananas and many other ingredients, one of them being a chicory root which gives birth to inulin that is gaining on its popularity,” the report states.

New Sugars ​is a popular strategy for catering to the health and well being focused consumer. The old way of catering to this trend was through artificial sweeteners, such as in diet sodas. But the new way t is by offering natural sweeteners with functional benefits, such as with Troo Foods​ inulin syrup, which provide the consumers with their daily dose of fibre.

Brands can also offer consumers “optimal nutrition” with products that will help with recovery and replenishment and generally help with athletic endeavours. Whilst the old answers to this might have been chocolate bars with added protein, consumers are now looking for a far greater range of macro and micro nutrients.

What’s more, HMT says that adaptogenic substances are becoming popular as actives in sports nutrition world. They are super-herbs such as Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Maca or Holy Basil that help your body resist to the damaging effects of stress and restore a balanced physical and mental state.

One such exampleis Purpose Bar, which is high in protein but also provides prebiotic fiber from chicory root as well as “rejuvenating superfoods” such as maca and vegan protein for the perfect post gym fix.

2. More, older and wealthier

good gout kidz

In conjunction with population growth, a large percentage of the world are getting wealthier and thus more demanding in terms of their needs and wishes. HMT’s strategy for this need is “inclusive nutrition”  which focuses on personal beliefs and motivations rather than rational facts and universal truths.

“The perception of parents prioritising self-care being selfish and bad parents is changing,"​ states the report. "Today, millennial parents have figured out that self-care does not equal selfish. Instead, Self Care equals Self-preservation which in turn equals Family-preservation.

“The availability of books and the Internet provide a wealth of resources, different parenting ideas, and culturally diverse perspectives from which parents can consider all sorts of information and opinions when creating an individualised approach to family life.

“They also tend to preserve the same lifestyle they had pre-kids I.e. if the parent believes in a wholesome diet, or even veganism, they will apply the same lifestyle to their kids as well.”

The report offers the example of Good Gout Kidz, from France, which works with chefs to make recipes from natural ingredients.

Another opportunity this game changer opens up is the trend for healthy ageing regimes to start in consumers' 20’s. Whilst the old way of doing this may have been with the use of external products, consumers are now looking for products that help them age healthily from within as well

One example of a product that speaks to these consumers is the mushroom coffee mix brand Four Sigmatic Superfood Beauty Mix, from the US, offering beauty adaptogens Schisandra and amla, plus hydrating mushroom tremella, plus vitamin C and biotic for glowing skin.

3. Resources are getting scarce

This describes the move from seemingly unlimited, to limited resources and the way to cater for this is with sustainable nutrition. 

According to HMT, while last year's game changing consumer may have been interested in living a more sustainable life through basic recycling efforts, this year's sees it as their responsibility to save the planet and they are overhauling their lifestyles to try and have an impact.

It's these consumers that are leading to the rise in plant-based foods, cosmetics and cleaning products, as well as an increase in the number of brands looking to attain B-corp certification.

Plant-based is a clear strategy within this trend but consumers have moved from imply plant-based, to "clean" or less processed plant-based alternatives which don't come with an label filled with unrecognisable ingredients.

One such example is Rise Bar, from the US, which claims to offer the "simplest" protein bar, with its products containing around five "real food" ingredients.

4. Production with natural and transparent processes

2020 consumers feel that manufacturers can go too far with processing and worry that nature's nutrients are being lost in the process, according to HMT.

Rise bar

The strategy for appealing to these people, it through natural nutrition and one way through providing totally transparency on the process behind the products. 

The report states: "As consumers are on the race of finding the most clean and green brands that truly care about their health goals, a disclosure of the brands entire supply chain and values, is becoming crucial."

Happy Family Organics, in the US, has a Clearly Craned baby foods line which comes in clear pouch packaging and features not only the product’s ingredients and nutritional values, but also the actual recipe for the baby food as well as disclosing what exact farms they work with.

5. Science for a Smarter Future

This game changer is centered around the fact that pharma’s monopoly on curing is over and where nutrition, especially in terms of disease prevention, is taking over.

The strategy for catering to this trend is with targeted nutrition.

One form of targeted nutrition outlined in the report is ‘adaptogens’ -  a group of plants and herbs that can support the body’s natural ability to heal with stress through the endocrine and autonomic nervous system.

One example they give is the brand Hum, from the US, which sells a caffeine free “Uber Energy” supplement formulated to elevate energy levels through adrenal strength including eleuthero, ashwaganda and rhodiola.

Suntory, a Japanese brewing and distilling company group made a mixed tea drink called Black Sesame Barley Tea for people with high blood pressure. The blood pressure-lowering effect is achieved through the sesame extract "sesamin peptide" which can lower blood pressure. In addition, barley, barley kernel, soybean, black sesame are mixed to ensure good taste and nutritional value.

Also falling within this interest for science driven nutrition, HMT notes that there’s a trend for perceiving sleep as a superpower, with consumers moving away from the notion that sleep is something they have to get, and towards the idea that sleep has to become part of their daily self-care routine.

“Sleep is as important as eating and exercise, when you are well-rested, your cognitive performance increases as well as your productivity and mood and the risk of non-communicable diseases will decrease significantly.”

One example of a product tapping into this trend is Healthful Co. Ltd. Nice Dream, from Thailand, which is a plant-based functional drink containing adaptogens, L-theanine and other natural extracts to promote a good night sleep for office workers, pilots, stewards or seniors

6. Technology Lifestyle

The next game changer is Technology Lifestyle and this is seeing consumers paying less attention to their mobile and more attention to their soul and wellbeing.

The report states: Today we are looking back at this decade with a new young generation where it is almost the standard to be suffering from different mental issues, such as depression, stress and anxiety. With the results and research on the topic in our hands we are now actively moving into a conscious use of technology and social media with  the end goal of nurturing out mental wellbeing.”

As such, consumers are looking to cut through the noise with meditation, sleep analysis and phone use timing controls.

Sustained Energy is the Goal As part of the wholesome approach, consumers realise that the only right way to get either an energy boost or a calm down, is through a clean natural solutions that sustain your energy in a long-term without any energy dips in-between.”


Therefore, consumer are moving waway from stimulants such as caffeine, and towards natural boosts, such as those found in Asian medicine.

One example of a drink for those looking to cut through the noise, is Recess Sparkling CBD Drinks from the US which pairs cannabinoids and adaptogens for a one-two punch of millennial chilled-out bliss. It’s communication states:  “We all have too many tabs open in our browsers and in our brains. That’s why we made Recess: each can is a moment to reset and re-balance. It’s how you wish that 2pm coffee would make you feel.”

Another example is Moon Juice, from the US, which is a “clinical strength daily stress management blend of adaptogenic herbs”.

Another trend within this Technology Lifestyle game changer is ‘wellness witchcraft’ which the report explains “s all about connecting to your body through a dash of ancient spirituality, mythology or folklore, often influenced by eastern practices.”

One example of brand catering to this trend is Amaiva Joy of Living Tea, from the UK, which tells consumers to “Brighten your day” with a mood-enhancing tea.

Seven Chakra balls is a Thai brand taking the idea a little further with raw protein balls formulated to enhance energies in different parts of the body.

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