The growing gap between consumers' attitudes and behavior was one of the key trends identified by the market research company from its 2004 Health and Wellness Trends Survey.
When it comes to dietary supplements, the survey findings indicated that 70 percent of consumers believe that taking a vitamin, mineral, or dietary supplement every day is important. Despite this, only 60 percent take multi-vitamins on a regular basis, and only half of these take them every day.
Retail sales of supplements in the US were $19 billion in 2004 - an increase of six percent on the previous year. But if supplement marketers promote the benefits of taking these products every day rather than sporadically, NMI predicts that sales could increase considerably, by ten percent or more.
The survey also showed that 86 percent of consumers believe that diet is linked to health, yet less than 50 percent select foods based on nutrition. Forty-five percent of respondents said they know they should eat more healthily, but do not.
An attitude of 'it won't happen to me' amongst certain demographics likely has something to do with these statistics, but there are other factors at play too.
NMI managing partner Steve French said: "The difference between attitudes and behaviors indicates a continuing struggle for consumers to fully integrate health and wellness measures into their lives."
For instance, convenience is an important consideration when coming up with product concepts. On-the-go lifestyles may mean that consumers devote less time to meal planning, but a packaged product they can fit in their pocket could help deliver the nutrition they need, when they want it.
Moreover, some of the recommendations made by the USDA, such as consuming between five and nine portions of fruit and vegetables per day or two portions of fish a week, could be difficult for some, particularly if they have an aversion to the food in question.
In this case, packaged foods containing the equivalent nutrients, sometimes with the taste masked, may make the advice easier to follow.
Other aspects that may feature high on the consumer's check-list of desirable factors and help bridge the gap between awareness and action include effectiveness, ease of availability and value for money.
The US government has introduced initiatives this year aimed at educating consumers in healthier lifestyles. Perhaps the most high profile is the MyPyramid food guidance system unveiled in April, which depicts the five main food groups and is loaded with symbolism meant to help consumers make healthier choices for food and exercise.
While NMI says that education is obviously key to the success of supplements and healthier food products, much of the onus rests with manufacturers, who must pay attention to the lifestyles of its consumers, looking at how they incorprate products into their daily lives.