I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the insightful conference by Mintel and the Marketing Institute Ireland on the evolution of dieting and how diet niches are slowly but surely seeping into mainstream supermarkets from small health food stores. Set in the lavish Westbury Hotel on September 10th, 2015, the 45-minute booked out breakfast briefing guided by David covered an incredible amount of consumer insights in such a short timeframe.
David began his talk by firstly breaking down the agenda…
- How dieting has gone from niche to a mainstream lifestyle.
- How people are returning to “natural” and “real” food and drink.
- How it is driving two main health trends: Getting rid of the bad stuff and digesting more of the good stuff.
Lifestyle dieting has indeed entered the mainstream market with two thirds of Irish consumers in 2013 saying that they wanted to be in better physical health and 61% knowing what they should and shouldn’t eat to keep healthy.
In today’s world, consumers are more anxious about what they consume, the 2013 horsemeat scandal cemented this fact with 59% of Irish consumers being more concerned about the safety of meat. The solution is pretty straightforward as consumers continually pursue more “natural” products. Companies are also aware of this as natural/no additive food claims for Irish product launches increased from 13% in 2005 to 28% in 2014.
Consumer’s anxiety has led them to ultimately embrace more pre modern diets such as the Paleo Diet. The clear popularity of this diet proves that the consumer’s fears of factory foods and modern day diets are very real.
David spoke of brands, which were fully embracing this trend. He gave examples like the Caveman Cookies, Cookies with ingredients that cavemen had access to (which are apparently delicious too).
He also spoke of the hugely popular nákd cereal bars (which are now valued at £13 million in retail) and how they are an excellent example of combining nutritious food with a strong brand personality.
The rise of the self-diagnosed food intolerance/allergy consumer was also discussed. According to David, 33% of Irish consumers have self-diagnosed themselves with a food intolerance or allergy. In truth it doesn’t matter if it is justified or in their heads as it is leading a big push to “free from” diets.
The two main driving forces behind this “free from” mindset are the “lifestyler” individuals who believe it to be a positive step towards health and wellness and the media claiming that with such “free from” diets, one can resemble a star celebrity. It is not factual but purely thought based.
We further heard that protein is no longer understood as something which helps build muscle but instead as something that helps to maintain a healthy weight.
Although consumers tend not to think of mainstream brands belonging in this category, it is also not stopping them from entering it. Brands such as Nature Valley and Nestle are happily providing “protein” and “gluten free” bars and breakfast cereals in the mainstream cereal aisle.
“Free from” also includes meat free products such as the cleverly branded Secret Sausages, Vegetables in disguise products (which, as a vegetarian, I have been searching desperately for everywhere!)
It is important to note that “free from” appears to resemble more of a trend then a fad (such as carb free) and looking at the US market, (which can be used as a strong predictor for European trends) it is clear that “free from” innovations are on the rise.
Saying this however, David mentioned how not all brands may be the most suited for “free from claims”. Heinz “gluten free” pasta and pasta sauce example have not fared as well as expected for several potential reasons. Firstly, people associate the brand with tinned foods and condiments and secondly they seem to have relied solely on a “free from” claim and not on taste or personality.
This short post merely scratches the surface of what Mintel and David discussed but to summarise
- Dieting used to be associated with negativity but has now moved into a more positive terminology, which is weight wellness instead of weight loss.
- Many diets can be considered a fad but their underlying principle remains the same, consumers are looking for a purer, healthier and happier way of life.
- These natural and real food and drink trends will continue to increasingly become more popular.
- Perhaps most important for a brand to remember is that the actual taste of the product and the personality it portrays are key triggers to success and no brand can solely rely on a nutrition claim.
After the presentation, David was flooded with questions from eager-to-know-more attendees and answered all in an informative and professional manner. Mintel are known for their incredible insights and this talk further confirmed that not only to me but also to everyone in attendance.
This article was originally written by Cian from Mccannblue.ie