Healthy Aging in 2022: Consumers are actively pursuing long-term health in multiple ways

Health and wellness are influencing food, drink, and supplement choices around the globe. In recent years, consumers have placed greater urgency on addressing health problems. While this can be attributed to COVID-19 concerns to some extent, this is actually a long-term trend driven by the desire to maintain a good quality of life.

Health goals have historically tended to be short-term and based on addressing one specific issue, such as weight loss. Over the last couple of years, however, consumers have adopted a broader approach to wellbeing. Indeed, in FMCG Gurus surveys, 52% of consumers said in 2021 that they had adopted a long-term approach to health—a 10% increase compared to two years earlier (42%). Undoubtedly this trend has been influenced by COVID-19 to some extent, with 60% of people saying they have become more conscious about the importance of preventing health problems by leading a healthy lifestyle.

This change in attitude cannot be attributed solely to the pandemic, however. Instead, there has been a seismic shift and recognition among individuals that they want to stay fit and active until as late in life as possible. These consumers are noticing that their diets are not as healthy as they should be and are taking a proactive and preventative approach to wellbeing.

People are now looking to make fundamental lifestyle changes, with 58% surveyed indicating they are more frequently educating themselves about their health. In addition, health goals have become broader and are now seen as lifestyle goals, meaning that even consumers who deem themselves to be in good health are looking to improve their eating and drinking habits and lifestyle traits.

Health Goals

These proactive and preventative consumers say that over the next couple of years, they would like to address a variety of physical and emotional health areas.

Unsurprisingly, immunity is the area that people (68% of survey respondents) would more like to address, reflecting how health goals have evolved and are focused on disease management as people remain mindful of future variants of coronavirus. Other noticeable areas of health that consumers would like to improve are digestive health (53%) and mental wellbeing (48%). More people are recognizing the link between the digestive system and immunity and seeing how gut health relates to an increased prevalence of health problems. Meanwhile, high levels of uncertainty over the last couple of years has resulted in a greater number of people suffering from stress and anxiety, poor sleep health, and an inability to relax—problems that were already widespread prior to the pandemic.

As consumers recognize that many areas of wellbeing are interlinked, it will drive urgency to address these areas over the next couple of years.

Becoming Proactive

To address these areas of wellbeing, 49% of people surveyed said they have made changes to their diet over the last two years, looking to minimize their intake of ingredients deemed to be dietary evils and maximizing their intake of health-boosting nutrients. However, many consumers recognize that diet alone is not enough to maintain long-term health. As such, 61% said they have looked to increase their levels of physical activity (reflecting that they feel they spend too much time being inactive), while 36% have sought to improve their mental wellbeing and 49% are trying to boost their sleep health.

For all of these wellbeing concerns, consumers will seek out better-for-you products with active-ingredient claims that can support their goals. Products with a variety of functional ingredients and benefit claims will appeal from an efficacy, convenience, and value perspective. At the same time, it is crucial that brands provide clinical and science-based evidence on packaging to support claims, as people can be skeptical about the validity of claims made in the health and wellness market in general.

Future Goals

Across the globe, the aging population continues to grow, even in countries previously associated with younger demographics. In addition, consumers continue to be worried about future variants of coronavirus. Finally, they also realize that their current diets and lifestyles may be increasing their risk of long-term health problems such as cancer.

As a result, consumers will continue making fundamental changes to their diets and lifestyles to address a variety of physical and mental health issues, driving demand for products that help facilitate the cause. This is something that will intensify urgency to tackle all areas of health, irrespective of whether people are currently suffering from symptoms, thereby creating new opportunities for innovation within the health and wellness market.

About the author:

Will Cowling is the marketing manager at FMCG Gurus. For more information about FMCG Gurus’ latest reports, including its COVID-19 survey series, please e-mail info@fmcggurus.com.