The survey, conducted by market research firm Euromonitor International, collected data from 20,000 respondents across 20 markets around the world.
Around 48% of male consumers and 45% of female consumers chose ‘ready-to-drink’ (RTD) as their most sought-after sports nutrition product feature. This was followed closely by ‘low in sugar,’ which was the most sought-after for 43% male consumers 47% female consumers.
Mirroring demand for RTD products is the boom in product development in this format. Plant-based dairy-alternative brand Ripple, for example, launched its own line of single-serving protein drinks at Expo West this year, while retailers from 7-Eleven to Walmart are stocking their coolers and shelves with more RTD sports nutrition products.
Portability was another sought-after feature for more than 30% of the respondents.
“Consumers are most likely to reach for something that is easy to take on the go and doesn’t require preparation,” Lisa Holmes, survey manager at Euromonitor International told us.
“This is supported by the fact that ‘portable’ was among the top-five most desired features for sports nutrition products. Interest in RTD is also slightly lower among younger consumers, which would line up with the fact that they also tend to be more concerned about environmental issues.”
What else are consumers looking for?
In third place was ‘clean ingredient list,’ referring to formulations that do not use synthetic and artificial ingredients.
“Consumers want to give their bodies and fitness regimes additional support, but they do not want to make any sacrifices or trade-offs in their overall lifestyle. This means avoiding non-natural ingredients, sticking to their regular dietary restrictions and keeping things as convenient as possible,” according to the report.
Slightly more than 20% of male and female consumers said that they seek powder format products, with a similar amount consumers saying the same for bar format products. Inclusion of caffeine in the formulation was sought by around 15% of consumers compared to 30% for the inclusion of electrolytes.
Strength and muscle tone drive purchases
Euromonitor found that the reasons behind consuming sports nutrition products are relatively similar across genders, as both men and women consume these products to hydrate (43% for both genders), recover (41% for males and 37% for females), and increase endurance (42% for males and 36% for females).
In some categories, the difference between genders was more pronounced. The leading reason for male consumers to purchase sports nutrition products was strength and muscle tone, with 45% of respondents choosing this as their reason for consumption. Only 37% of females chose this as their reason.
Meanwhile, weight loss was a primary reason for 35% of female respondents, compared to 27% of males.