Immune health: Show consumers the evidence

Consumers want to invest in products to support their immune health. But they also want evidence that immune-health products work.

Society’s initial fears over COVID-19 may have faded, but they still fundamentally changed consumer attitudes towards health and wellbeing. Consumers are now looking for long-lasting ways to enhance their wellbeing and to prevent potential future illness before infection—namely, by prioritizing their immune health. Our data show that 69% of global consumers now define a good immune system by how quickly they recover from illness. Consumers accept that they will get ill—but in their eyes, recovery time is crucial.

Energy levels also significantly influence consumer perceptions of immune health. Consumers recognize that those who suffer from fatigue are generally more susceptible to health problems. In light of these revelations about the importance of immune health, people have taken a more proactive approach to their health, focusing on how their diets and lifestyles can be improved to maximize overall wellness.

Consumer Concerns About Immune Health

People are more attentive than ever to the current and future state of their immune health, exhibiting a higher concern for healthy aging and long-term health. Unlike before, when the most common health goal was aspiration of a better physical build, the focus has now shifted to minimizing vulnerability to disease and illness alongside maximizing one’s overall wellness and longevity.

The pandemic offered the opportunity for consumers to criticize their own health and the areas they need to improve. This led them to accept that a poor diet is a direct factor in long-term health problems and poor immunity. Behaviors such as over-indulging, being reliant on convenience food, and not monitoring nutrition intake are more broadly recognized as causes of concern for gut health and immunity. During the pandemic, there was also an increase in unhealthy dietary behaviors, like comfort eating, because there was less pressure on routines and self-discipline. So consumers are grappling with those impacts as well.

Consumers also admit to higher levels of inactivity, spending too much time on digital devices and becoming less mobile at home. Inactivity not only increases their risk of health problems like obesity but also jeopardizes their immune health as they are not being exposed to outdoor conditions that would otherwise naturally boost their immunity.

Consumers now recognize the areas that directly impact immunity and are seeking to find solutions to these concerns in order to build the integrity of their immune system and maximize health to prevent future disease and illness.

Consumer Actions Toward Immune Health

FMCG data show that from 2019 to 2022, there was a noticeable jump in consumers who deem their diets as healthy, with 3 in 5 reporting that they maintain a healthy diet in 2022—a 10% increase from the year prior. Also, 71% of global consumers want to increase their intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, with a newfound emphasis on back-to-basics nutrition. Food, drink, and supplements deemed as natural are now also seen as more appealing to the 78% of consumers who say they now examine claims on products before purchasing.

Consumers are adopting a more holistic approach to health, recognizing that all aspects of health are equally important and impact one another. There’s a higher demand for food, drink, and nutritional supplements that have multifunctional benefits.

The main benefit people are interested in is immunity. As more information about the microbiome and good bacteria for gut health emerges, consumers are looking to incorporate more of these properties into their diets to maximize their digestive and immune health.

Products with clinically proven claims validating authenticity are also on the rise in popularity. FMCG Gurus insights reveal that 78% of global consumers are more likely to purchase immune-supporting products if there are scientific claims that support the effectiveness of the ingredients. This is more important than ever as more consumers are becoming skeptical of health-boosting claims, feeling that brands may not have their best interests at heart. Therefore, ingredients and claims backed by scientific support are highly appealing.

The Way Forward

Consumers want to improve their dietary and lifestyle habits in order to better their immune health. They’re more attentive to ingredients and claims, seeking to ensure they receive the maximum benefits from products. Everyday food and drink products should look to promote genuine health-boosting claims in order to engage effectively with modern consumers who want reassurance of maximum efficacy.

Consumers are more skeptical of the health and wellbeing market. To overcome this, brands should look for innovative ways to validate health claims. Ways to achieve this could be promoting any clinical evidence in a simplified format in order to prevent confusion, which is a barrier consumers report that makes it more difficult to achieve a healthy diet. Additionally, providing QR codes that consumers can scan to find the supporting clinical evidence offers transparency and reassurance. This not only builds consumer trust but also makes it more likely that the individual will buy these products because the claims can be validated in an easy and accessible way.

About the Author

Emily Ann Smith is content and editorial executive at FMCG Gurus. For more information about FMCG Gurus’ latest reports, please e-mail info@fmcggurus.com.