The survey focused on healthcare in general, and classified alternative treatments as non-conventional or naturopathic therapies, which include things like chiropractic care, massage therapy, and herbal remedies. Questions were designed to see the current landscape of alternative medicine, and whether it is perceived as safe or effective.
According to the results, 30% of Americans of every generation believe herbal medicines should be covered by health insurance. Jennifer Colamonico, Vice President of Nielsen Healthcare, believes this trend is reflecting not just alternatives in treating, but in preventative care as well.
“As [Millennials] face higher deductibles for insurance, they look to make different self-care decisions including not only alternative therapies but also fresher foods, more over the counter treatments and getting medical care in different places (like retail clinics),” she told NutraIngredients-USA.
“Millennials interest in alternative therapies and botanicals is not surprising at all,” Amy Keller, director of education and training of botanical supplements company Organic India, told NutraIngredients-USA.
“I think it is logical that millennials would be pursuing natural medicine. Sitting ringside for their aging parents and grandparents experiences in western healthcare and pharmaceutical drugs would drive one to ask, ‘isn’t there a better way?’” she added.
Colamonico thinks that, in addition to low trust in pharmaceuticals because of headlines of price gauging, Millennials are healthier in general. “So we can infer that they have less experience – good or bad – with a health care system that often dismisses alternative therapies,” she said.
Benefits of an active lifestyle
An increasing interest in sports nutrition and health and wellness products mirrors an overall increase in physical activity, as market analysts have noted.
“Given what we know about the rise of the fitness culture among younger cohorts (not just Millenials), we might expect things like massage therapy and herbal medicines to continue to grow in popularity and subsequently in demand for insurance coverage,” Colamonico said.
Attempts have been made by several supplement industry associations to have at least Americans with HSA and FSA plans to buy supplements as part of their medical expenses.
“The one size fits all approach to healthcare in America isn’t working and people are seeking alternatives,” Keller added. “The more people learn about safe, effective traditional methods, treating each person as a unique individual the more compelling the alternatives become. It is just good sense. “
The survey data offers supplement industry players, especially those in botanicals, an optimistic forecast. “The younger generation is very activated by what is happening to modern society and the planet they intend to raise their children and grandchildren,” Keller said.
“The underpinning of botanical medicine is organic, whole herbs found naturally in their purest forms. The foundation of alternative therapies is the profound healing in human touch and connectedness. All of these pieces are needed for regeneration of our planet and our communities and the next generation is on board.”