The new US health landscape is here. What does it mean for brands?

US health trends

US health trends

Strong shifts in the way people approach diet and exercise are being seen in the US with less of a focus on losing weight and more on an overall healthy lifestyle. Personalisation is also key, a new study shows.

Wearable tech and the athleisure trend are both playing their part in this and sugar has taken over from fat and cholesterol as the key diet concern.

US consumers will seek to personalise their health and wellness in 2017, according to The NPD Group. That should mean wearable devices that track footsteps and apps that track calories enabling consumers to develop their own personal plans to meet their needs, rather than relying on health plans based on averages.

NPD said dieting is on the decline, but the idea of “my own diet” is still rising as the most common way consumers take control of their intake, according to its continual tracking of consumers’ eating attitudes and behaviours.

“Consumer attitudes toward health today have evolved beyond diet, exercise, and the specific attributes (presence or absence) of food items,” said Darren Seifer, NPD Group’s food and beverage industry analyst. “Now they’re looking for personal plans that meet their own specific interests, and more importantly, their lifestyles.”

The study showed that exercise, for example, is not necessarily increasing as part of the new health and wellness lifestyle, nor are consumers typically losing weight, but from the activewear worn to the foods consumed, they are embracing a lifestyle centred on wellness.

They’re wearing fitness trackers, athleisure apparel, and athletic footwear. In many cases they’re interest in these items is as much as looking the part of an active lifestyle as it is actually having one.

From an eating behaviour standpoint, this lifestyle is about eating “wholesome” food, such as fresh, organic, or non-genetically modified items. Concern for and avoidance of traditional health-related attributes, like fat or cholesterol, is waning, although sugar is still a concern.

NOPD said the trends gathering steam include:

* Sweating the small stuff

It’s the little things grabbing consumers’ attention these days; they can be small but influential ways to garner loyalty among consumers. Increasingly consumers are looking to support brands and companies that do more than manufacture a product —they want to support causes and actions aligned with their values. People feel they’re doing right when they support companies that are connected to locally sourced ingredients, donations to charities, sustainable environmental practices, and animal welfare practices.

* The future is now

Technology is quickly making its way into how consumers acquire foods and beverages because it saves time. Although the use of technology is currently a small behaviour, NPD Group expects to see more people in the coming years use retailers’ websites or third-party sites like InstaCart to acquire foods and beverages.



* Home is where the meal is

It’s becoming more common to make meals at home while also using dishes sourced from restaurants. Those purchased components are more likely to be appetisers or side dishes, indicating consumers use these dishes as quick ways to round out or complete their meals. It’s yet another sign people want freshly prepared items in the home without having to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. This is a true generational shift; younger consumers already consume fresh foods at rates higher than older adults did when they were the same age. As these younger consumers age, NPD’s forecast shows their demand for freshness in a hurry will only increase.

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