Top NMI health and wellness trends: Part II

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Consumer protection

In the second part of a series on top trends identified by market
researcher Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), examines the trends coined 'Dr Me', 'The
Culture of Sustainability', 'Golden Opportunities', and 'The New

The eight major trends identified by the group are expected to have a long-term impact on the health and wellness and sustainability arenas in the food sector, through 2015 and beyond. NMI is due to release full information later this month, but the group gave a brief presentation of the eight trends - and their countertrends - to attendees at Expo West​ in Anaheim, California, last week. Dr Me ​This trend reflects an increased interest by consumers to maintain their health through independent actions. According to Steve Preston, who presented the seminar, people have started "taking heath care to self care". ​Preston, senior director of marketing for Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy, a chain of stores offering a combination of traditional prescription medicine and natural remedies or prevention products, said the group has seen "record double-digit increases in supplement sales".​ Customers are particularly interested in healthy aging products, omega-3, calcium, probiotics, sexual vitality, anti-inflammatory and sleep and anxiety. According to NMI, the Dr Me trend is driven in part by dissatisfaction with healthcare, advertising and access to online health portals. As a result, consumers are finding new, non-traditional ways to manage their health, including consumer directed health plans, alternative medicine, and preventative DNA testing. The research group also highlighted the countertrend of obesity, diabetes and heart disease being on the rise despite increased consumer interest in managing their own health. The Culture of Sustainability ​NMI president Maryellen Molyneaux presented the next trend, stating that "sustainability will become the most significant social movement of our time. It will permeate every aspect of consumers' lifestyles, business infrastructures and other societal constituencies". ​According to Molyneaux, 60 percent of Americans are becoming increasingly concerned about protecting the environment, while 43 percent are actually doing something about it. "These figures are so high because this is an emotional trend, it's all about the future well-being of your family,"​ said Molyneaux. "Emotional trends can be capitalized on, but they can also blow up in your face if you're not authentic - so be careful,"​ she told attendees. According to NMI, corporate America needs to develop consumer trust. All companies are saying they are being friendly to the environment, so it is becoming hard to know which ones are authentic, it said. "But once you win that trust consumers will be much more likely to buy your product." ​ However, despite the increased focus on sustainability, the countertrend identified here is that consumers are actually becoming overwhelmed with sustainability initiatives and a significant 'green-washing' fall-out is expected as consumers learn to discern its true meaning and impact. The New Immunity ​According to Molyneaux, "a rise in allergies and weakened immune systems is believed by many to be the result of toxic home and work environments, as well as a food supply manipulated by additives, genetic modification, antibiotics, hormones and herbicides." ​These concerns, she said, are driving a growth industry in organic foods and allergy-free alternatives. "One third of American consumers are seeking ways to reduce inflammation in their bodies, as they are beginning to understand the connection with chronic health conditions." ​ Molyneaux said consumers talk to their physicians about 'big' conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, but not smaller issues such as immunity and energy because they believe they can deal with these without medical assistance. The countertrend identified is that immunity issues are still increasing, and compromising people's health. The consumer segment identified by NMI as the Eat, Drink and Be Merrys - or those people that do not pay attention to the impact of the foods they consume on their health - demonstrates the lowest awareness or interest in food ingredients, additives, environmental factors and their health impact. Golden Opportunities ​According to NMI, the aging population presents a growing opportunity for the food industry as this consumer group is experiencing an unprecedented level of autonomy, choice and lifestyle participation. According to author Brent Green, who presented this trend, food companies "absolutely must consider this market if you want to increase your business".​ Baby boomers, defined by Brent as those consumers born between 1946-64, currently make up 26 percent of the US population, or one in three American adults. Boomers have 70 percent of the nation's net worth, he said. Brent stressed that the two major ways to understand a generation are through the 'Cohort Effect" - or generationally-held values - and understanding a generation's 'life-stage', or what drives them. He advised food and supplement companies to keep in mind a number of core factors when considering their business for boomers. These include the fact that boomers are wellness and experience seekers, and that they also seek vitality and recovery from the products they purchase. In addition, he said they are motivated by narrative stories versus facts. "They will read facts, but you reach them through narrative." ​The countertrend identified here is that the issues of loss of independence, control and even financial resources represent profound social consequences for seniors, caregivers, governments and society. More trends ​Click here​ to read's article on the first four NMI trends: The Dual Society, Generation Zzzzz, Stop, I want off! and Giving is the New Taking.

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