Sports nutrition marketers have traditionally focused on young men, sports teams and hardcore athletes. In future, however, they will need to spend more time targeting women, weekend warriors and consumers pursuing individual sports and fitness activities from yoga to walking, according to a new report.
“When it comes to targeting prime consumers of sports nutritional products, 6.3 million fitness walkers comprise the single largest and most attractive market segment”, says market researcher Packaged Facts in its report: ‘The Sports Nutritionals Market in the US: Sports Drinks and Nutrition Bars’.
“Those taking yoga classes (1.3 million) as well as those pursuing outdoor activities such as mountain biking (1.5 million) and camping and backpacking (1.2 million each) are more numerous than the soccer, football, softball, baseball or volleyball players using these products."
The report then goes on to explore opportunities in two segments: Nutrition bars (energy, diet, sports, high-carb, high-protein, low-calorie and balanced nutrition bars) and sports drinks.
Sales of sports drinks estimated to grow 6% in 2013; sales of nutrition bars estimated to grow 14%
US retail sales of sports drinks are estimated to reach $7.4bn in 2013 (up 6% vs 2012) and could be worth $6.9bn by 2017, it predicts.
But bars are growing faster, with sales expected to reach $2.6bn in 2013 (+14% vs 2012) and approach $3.9bn by 2017.
“In 2012 there were 27.7m consumers who ate at least one nutrition bar in the last 30 days. Nutrition bar users constitute 12.1% of the population. There are 3.9m adults who ate 10 or more nutrition bars in the past 30 days, and 14.6m who ate five or more bars during this period.”
Nearly one in three adults seriously involved in weight training use nutrition bars
Meanwhile, nearly one in three adults seriously involved in weight training use nutrition bars, while other groups with a high percentage of nutrition bar consumers include karate/martial arts enthusiasts (28.5%), aerobics enthusiasts (27.5%), users of cardio machines (24.7%) and joggers/runners (24.4%), reveals the report.
Heavy users are also more likely to be watching their weight, says the report.
“Consumers of at least three nutrition bars in the last 30 days have an above-average propensity to be on a diet. More than four in ten (43%) agree with the statement ‘Most of the time I am trying to lose weight by dieting’, compared to only 29% of adults on average.”
The nutrition bar market will also benefit from long-term trends in eating habits, it predicts.
“Between 2007 and 2012, the number of consumers who often snack between meals increased at a faster rate than general population growth.”
Women are more likely to eat nutrition bars
According to Simmons NCS data, women are more likely to eat nutrition bars (55% of those eating at least one bar in the last 30 days are women, while 45% are men), says Packaged Facts.
“Female consumers of nutrition bars outnumber their male counterparts 15.2m to 12.4m and offer a major opportunity for nutrition bars as well as other sports nutritionals geared especially for women.”
Men more likely to consume sports drinks
In contrast, men account for 64% of high-volume users of sports drinks, with younger men the biggest users, says Packaged Facts.
“Men aged 18-34- make up 15% of the population but 31% of those consuming five or more sports drinks in the past 30 days.”
However, the number of high-volume sports drinks users (those consuming eight or more sports drinks in the last 30 days) has been declining in recent years, offset by a rise in consumption among casual sports drink users.
What is a sports drink anyway?
The definition of sports drinks is also changing as marketers seek to reach out to health and fitness enthusiasts, women and ‘weekend warriors’, as well as young men.
“The sports drink is [increasingly] defined in terms of the characteristics of the end user rather than the intrinsic qualities of the drink itself”, says the report.
“For example, coconut water is marketed as being ‘like’ a sports drink, while protein-enhanced drinks such as Muscle Milk target serious athletes and fitness buffs by claiming some of the properties of sports drinks.”