In a webinar broadcast last week, a panel moderated by this reporter looked at the latest trends in the Healthy Aging sphere. The panel consisted of Guru Ramanathan, PhD, head of innovation for supplement retailing giant GNC, and Graham Rigby, chief of innovation for the direct to consumer brand Care/Of. Also on the panel were attorney Katie Bond of the firm Amin Talati Upadhye and consultants Mark Miller, PhD and Marc Brush.
Getting more bang for your life span buck
Miller said the basic idea is the concept of healthy aging to improve the quality of life for consumers, rather than to merely act as a prophylactic bulwark for the inevitable erosion that time brings on.
“There is this concept of the ‘health span.’ The health span is the proportion of your life span during which you are truly healthy. The goal is to have that health span be as close as possible to your life span,” Miller said.
Brush, who is a former editor of Nutrition Business Journal, said healthy aging as a category paints with too broad a brush for most innovation teams within the industry. The attraction for consumers, as Miller laid it out, is obvious. But crafting a message that they would understand has proven to be difficult.
“When I was at NBJ is was such a beast to try to define, because aging touches everything,” Brush said.
Getting at the root causes
“Lately I have been working with a lot of innovation teams with large consumer brands. What I have noticed is that a lot of brands are interested in this space, but they rarely try to market there. If they are forward thinking about this concept, they recognize that healthy aging is just too nebulous a concept to curry much relevance for the consumers,” he said.
“They start to drill down quite quickly into the relevant conditions. And what I’ve noticed is that more and more companies are starting to pay attention to inflammation,” Brush added.
Rigby, who prior to a recent move to Care/Of also helped drive innovation at the finished goods brand Organic India, echoed that idea. He said as the market has gotten more sophisticated, more formulators are starting to look at foundational principles for the issues that crop up as we age.
“A lot of what you are seeing from major brands is a focus on very anti oxidative ingredients to get at the root causes of aging,” Rigby said.
“What everyone is chasing in this new millennium is to defy what is prescribed as normal for your decade. Sixty is the new fifty, fifty is the new forty, etcetera. How do we move? Can we exercise in the same manner we always did, can I think in the same manner from a cognitive point of view? And among younger consumers, it’s a focus on ‘How do I look?’” he added.
Healthy aging concerns reaching younger consumers
Ramanathan said this is something that GNC has noted too; healthy aging isn’t just for older consumers any more. This brings up the rising tide of beauty from within marketing ideas, which are folding into healthy aging in unexpected ways.
“One of the interesting things that we are seeing is that there are more personalized definitions of aging. And I see consumers talking about healthy aging are very young. The idea is that I don’t want to look old, so perhaps I should start doing something about my appearance while I am still young. Hair, skin, nails and beauty—these are areas that have begun to attract attention even among a younger demographic,” he said.
Listen to last week's Healthy Aging on demand
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