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Consumers worldwide embrace healthy living strategies

In a global survey, we asked 28,000 consumers in 23 countries about the measures they take to maintain their physical health. The results show that people are taking their health seriously and investing time in their physical well-being. Against this backdrop, we see a real opportunity for companies to help consumers in their quest for better health by offering products and services that complement consumers’ existing efforts. Our survey reveals some good news for consumer goods companies with clear opportunities to engage consumers more extensively, particularly in regard to oral care, healthy eating, sunscreen, vitamins and supplements, and personal grooming products.

Healthy eating market is prime with consumers

With healthy eating being ranked so highly by consumers (see chart below), it is clear that there is a huge opportunity to engage people with products that promote a healthy diet. Our research revealed some stark regional variations in this trend. While almost six in ten globally say that they eat healthily, this figure plummets in some territories, most notably in Japan where less than a third (29%) claim to regularly eat healthy foods to maintain health. These large discrepancies have to be weighed against different national mindsets, which influence what people view as ‘healthy’ food, whether they naturally relate this to their physical health and – in Japan, for example – a cultural trend towards under-reporting. Even with this added context, the results suggest that there is significant variation in the extent to which the healthy eating market has achieved penetration and point to new opportunities for further development. In particular, Japan, Poland, Russia and Korea have less than half of consumers reporting that they regularly eat healthy food to maintain their health, suggesting there is significant scope to develop products specifically tailored to these markets.

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Oral care market offers room for expansion

Oral care has long been a mainstay of the consumer goods industry and our survey reveals continued opportunities to develop and extend this market. Over half (54%) of consumers globally say that they follow a regular oral care regimen, making it one of the most popular interventions to maintain physical health. The research showed a clear bias amongst older consumers, with those aged 50-59 most likely to maintain a good oral routine at 64%. In contrast, youngsters are least likely to invest in oral health – less than half (45%) have a regular oral regimen. These results show that there are further opportunities to expand the oral care market, and in particular, to target the young with information and products that have more appeal and relevance to their lives.

Top 4 activity_oral care

Skin care, vitamins and sunscreen trail behind

While still relatively popular, skincare and personal grooming products trail significantly behind oral care. Just over a third of people (38%) say that they use these products regularly, to maintain their health. Vitamins are used by around a third (32%), and just 30% use sunscreen. These results suggest that consumers worldwide see these products as being discretionary. There is an opportunity for brands to communicate the risks and associated health benefits more effectively to grow this segment.

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Two major themes emerging for FMCG

In our view, consumers are ready to engage with more branded health and wellbeing products, but only if they add value to consumers’ healthcare regimens. As we look to the future, personalization and the ability to differentiate effectively between consumers of different ages will be key. There is an opportunity for companies to offer solutions that are tailored to these different tastes, preferences and life stages.

We see two major themes emerging from this research for FMCG companies to note when looking to increase their revenues within the health and personal care market:

  • Make it easy for me to be healthy

Companies need to deliver health benefits in new and interesting ways in order to capitalize on the enthusiasm for being healthy. Those brands that make it easy for consumers to be healthy and who can find innovative ways to deliver healthcare services in the home will lead the way. This could be done for example by bringing out-of-home treatments into the household, such as those currently only available in spas, surgeries or clinics.

Some forward thinking brands have already started to make inroads in this space – Crest’s White Strips for example enable consumers to experience cosmetic dentistry in their own bathroom. We believe that such innovations offer significant areas for growth and will be well received by consumers who are prepared to invest in improving their health.

  • Engage the young

It is clear that the world’s youth have not yet acquired the healthier habits of their parents and grandparents. In all areas except exercise, they lag behind their elders. Smart companies could change this trend by actively marketing to the younger demographic and developing products and services that are particularly targeted at their needs and lifestyles. For example, younger consumers may be more willing to embrace a brand or product which matches their particular routine, has a bolder design aesthetic or is congruent with their own set of values.

Alongside these initiatives to tailor products to a younger audience must be communications campaigns that seek to inform the young about the importance of taking care of themselves during their youth, and challenge the dominant perception that it’s only the old who need to worry about investing in their health.

Matt Valle can be contacted at matt.valle@gfk.com.

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