More than any other factor, taste drives consumers’ nutrition and performance purchases, with 47% of shoppers citing it as the main reason they choose the nutrition products they do. And that’s just one insight to be gleaned from Comax Flavors’ (Melville, NY) latest primary research into consumer behavior, use, and attitudes toward nutrition and performance products, released December 19.
Fielded in May 2017 amongst 1,000 male and female U.S. respondents aged 18 to 70-plus, the study focused on protein powder, ready-to-drink protein drinks and protein bars. Noted Catherine Armstrong, vice president of corporate communications for Comax Flavors, in a press statement, “Nutrition & Performance products are now readily available and marketed to people with active lifestyles and we are seeing activity in plant protein. We wanted to better understand habits and usage among the general population in this market.”
Among the findings’ highlights is the aforementioned prominence of taste in consumers’ nutrition and performance purchases. But while taste may be what drives them toward such products, consumers’ top reason for using nutrition and performance products is the attribute “healthy,” with 45% of protein powder users, 50% of RTD beverage users, and 55% of bar users citing that as their main reason for use.
When looking specifically at the attitudes of protein powder consumers, 37% cite formula content as important to purchase intent, while 44% use the powders in dairy or nondairy preparations, 31% in sweet preparations, and 19% in savory.
RTD drinkers appear to have strong opinions about beverage flavor, with 29% of survey respondents favoring berry-flavored drinks. In fact, berry was the most popular flavor among respondents in the silent generation (38%), Gen Xers (35%), and Gen Y consumers (30%).
As for protein bar fans, sweet flavors like apple pie (29%), berry (27%), coconut (27%), and “indulgent” (38%) seem to carry the day, with only 8% of respondents choosing “savory” bars. But more than half of those surveyed enjoy peanut butter as a bar flavor—which, conceivably, could go in either a sweet or savory direction.
With protein’s popularity at no apparent risk of waning, Comax saw a clear need to get a handle on what consumers want and expect out of their protein products. As Armstrong stated, “Once reserved for athletes and heavily dominated by whey protein, the protein market across applications including protein powder, ready-to-drink (RTD), and bars is continually evolving.”