Click to edit...

According to the GlobalData 2018 Q3 global consumer survey, 51% of consumers globally are already buying, or interested in but not actively buying, food/drinks specifically designed to support fitness/exercise routines. The core consumers for products targeting performance and energy can largely be split into two groups: specialists (body builders, athletes etc.) and active lifestylers (mainstream consumers who engage in some form of regular exercise or use sports nutrition for lifestyle reasons). Although both represent opportunities for manufacturers, the relatively low number of specialists means that the greater target opportunity will be active lifestylers. There is some crossover between these groups but the broader subsets of consumers within the active lifestyler group provide the chance for greater variation in products. 

In the upcoming report from GlobalData, ‘Ingredient Insights: Energy and Performance’, associate analyst Matthew Perry explores the role energy and performance are playing in the food & beverage industry. As health consciousness broadly increases as a factor in consumer’s product choices, brands would be served well by considering how their products can cater to active lifestyles. Although there is a diversification in the types of activity consumers may be looking for support in, the trend towards some kind of performance functionality is broad. Drawing from research detailed in the report, we take a look at how manufacturers should consider energy and performance products.

View GlobalData Reports

Natural means healthy: Catering to consumers’ dietary requirements

Body image plays a large role in consumer interest in performance based products; manufacturers must consider that performance products need to support larger health goals and not only provide immediate energy. With the top motivation for exercise found to be ‘to support general health’ (41%) according to the GlobalData 2017 Q4 consumer survey, closely followed by ‘to look or feel good’ (39%) and ‘to lose weight/burn fat’ (38%), products should be low in sugar and preferably natural. As opposed to stereotypically sugar and chemical packed energy drinks, manufacturers should look to tap into natural energy sources and present products as a supplement to a healthy lifestyle.

62% of consumers in GlobalData’s 2018 Q3 global consumer survey were found to always or often be influenced by how food products impact their health and wellbeing when choosing what to purchase. Furthermore, the GlobalData 2017 Q4 global consumer survey found that 69% of consumers considered ‘natural’ to be what ‘healthy’ means and 58% said in the 2017 Q1 survey that they consider a product marketed as suitable for their dietary requirements to feel more tailored to their needs. As more consumers move towards an increased focus on choosing healthy products and active lifestyles, manufacturers must consider that while there are a variety of functions to serve in this space they will nearly all be better perceived under the ‘natural’ banner.

62% of consumers in GlobalData’s 2018 Q3 global consumer survey were found to always or often be influenced by how food products impact their health and wellbeing

Allowing for that, manufacturers need to be conscious of the fact that consumers are looking for the focus on providing a healthy product to extend beyond the finished product. Brands can benefit from consumer interest in products marketed to their dietary requirements but must be aware that consumers are becoming increasingly ingredient-attentive. Claims of being ‘natural’ or the use of terms such as ‘energising’ must therefore be backed up by product formulations; such transparency will be particularly successful among younger, higher-information consumers. 

With the global average of consumers paying high or very high attention to the ingredients used in the food and drinks they consume increasing from 52% to 54% between 2015 and 2017 (GlobalData 2015 Q2 and GlobalData 2017 Q1 global consumer survey), it is imperative for brands to approach products in this category from the ground-up and not simply look to take advantage of popular labels.  

Energising and performance boosting: exploring natural stimulants and lean proteins

When targeting consumers interested in performance products, manufacturers should consider positioning their products not only as healthy additives but as supplements in a hectic lifestyle. GlobalData’s 2015 Q1 consumer survey found that 52% of consumers often feel like they need an energy boost to get them through the day, while the 2017 Q1 survey found that 76% of consumers are concerned about tiredness/fatigue and 68% are concerned about overworking. Manufacturers should therefore seek to ensure that not only do they provide a product that is broadly healthy and supports dietary goals, but, to broaden appeal, should do so while providing a functional performance benefit whether for daily life or active exercise. 

The challenge of innovating in this sector will be answering to both these demands simultaneously; synthetic formulations can more easily answer the need for an energy boost than healthy alternatives. However, considering the consumer trend towards natural products, manufacturers should look to natural stimulants and sugar alternatives. Lean proteins should be also be a point of exploration; with 63% of consumers claiming to be concerned about muscle tone in the 2017 

52% of consumers often feel like they need an energy boost to get them through the day

Millennials will be the most receptive consumers in these areas, with consumers in this age group (18-34) perceiving themselves to be more physically/mentally drained and stressed than their older counterparts as a result of more demanding lifestyles. While the 2017 Q1 survey found 18% of millennials to be concerned and actively buying products to address overwork, the number dropped to 14% among those aged 35 and over. 

Similarly, while 24% of millennials said they were concerned about tiredness/fatigue and actively buying products to address it, only 19% of those 35+ said the same. With greater health consciousness and the proliferation of social media and its effects on body image, this younger consumer group will be the prime target for products that offer both energising and performance boosting functionality.

Targeting pre- and post-exercise needs: tapping into protein’s popularity 

Although 51% of consumers are interested in food/drinks specifically designed to support fitness/exercise routines, it should be noted that not all of those consumers are actually buying such products. In fact, 29% of those consumers expressed an interest in energy and performance products but are not yet buying them. Brands should therefore look to prioritise converting this interest into purchases. 

In part, this can be done by specialising products to target both before and after exercise and the different nutritional needs required for each. For example, the GlobalData 2018 Q3 global consumer survey found that the ‘high protein’ was the most prioritised claim (36% of consumers) when choosing food or drink before a workout but after exercise, the highest priority claim was ‘hydrating’ (38% of consumers). 

Although this puts food products at a greater advantage for targeting nutritional needs pre-exercise, when it comes to post-exercise functional drinks will be most in demand. However, the second most prioritised claim post-exercise was natural ingredients (31%), closely followed by low fat (30%). Both claims offer possibilities for functional food products, although require formulating products that may be less directly performance-related and more broadly offer a healthy snack option. Moreover, manufacturers should consider making use of flavours such as green tea and ginseng which not only have natural perceptions but are positively considered for their own functional benefits.  

The GlobalData 2018 Q3 global consumer survey found that the ‘high protein’ was the most prioritised claim

Pre-exercise however, food products are well placed to tap into protein’s popularity. GlobalData’s 2017 Q1 consumer survey found that egg protein was notably perceived as having the most positive impact on health (65% of consumers). While chicken, milk and meat proteins were all fairly close (58%, 56% and 55% respectively), brands should avoid whey protein as only 40% of consumers perceived it to have a positive impact on their health.

The 2017 Q1 consumer survey found more than 60% of consumers considered both pulses and peanuts to have a positive impact on health; whether in protein powders or snack-like bars, both are good bases for performance products.  Perfecting performance products will require a delicate balance between various elements, but there is a clearly expanding demand for brands to service. 

Share this article