Sports brands scramble to say abreast of market changes wrought by pandemic

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Sports brands scramble to say abreast of market changes wrought by pandemic

Related tags Market advice Market research Sports & Active Nutrition Summit USA event content Unmetered

Sports nutrition companies will need to stay abreast of how consumers are interacting with their products—and especially how that has changed during the pandemic—to identify and capitalize on new opportunities, said a prominent market analyst.

Market researcher Diane Ray said the research her company has done shows that more and more consumers are seeking sports nutrition products out, but they are doing so on their own terms.  In order for companies to successfully reach beyond the core audience of hardcore gym rats and bodybuilders, it’s imperative to understand the mindset of these newer consumers.

Ray, who is the vice president of strategic innovation at the Newtown Square, PA-based Natural Marketing Institute,  will present a market overview session at the upcoming Sports & Active Nutrition Summit 2022, which returns this February as an in-person event.  For more information on the event, see below.

The advent of egamers 

NMI recently completed a detailed market research effort that looked into consumers’ attitudes on sports nutrition products.  She said the term is being stretched and pulled into new directions, some of which is driven by consumers’ attitudes.

For example, she said five years ago when such surveys were done almost no one would have considered video gamers as potential ‘sports nutrition’ consumers.  But now, the field is booming.  Advertising and sponsorship dollars have flooded into competitive online gaming.  And nutrition brands are scrambling to figure out what these consumers want and how best to give it to them.

In addition to the egamers, who mostly skew young, the potential market among younger exercisers is expanding, too.

“It’s been interesting what’s been happening in the younger age groups.  For years it was all about protein and creatine.  But now you have people going to the gym just to support their health or who want long, lean muscles. You don’t have to be an intense competitor to be considered a candidate for sports nutrition,”​ she said.

The importance of exercise

The longer term changes in the sports nutrition realm are now interacting with the changes wrought by the pandemic, Ray said.

NMI’s research found that the number of people who say supplements are important to their health has hit an all time high of 83%, while fewer people say exercise important (60%, though that has increased by 15% over the past five years).

Of supplement users, though, exercise is more important among supplement users. NMI’s survey found 80% of regular supplement users also exercise regularly, which amounts to 187 million adults.

The say/do gap

Ray said a big opportunity for the category is the say/do gap among consumers.  About 127 million Americans say they are concerned with issues central to the category, such as muscle building, having more energy, exercise endurance, etc.  But only about 40% of those, or 47 million, are actively doing something about those concerns.  That leaves a market of 87 million consumers as yet untapped by sports nutrition companies, Ray said.

Sports & Active Nutrition Summit 2022

Ray will be among the speakers at the Sports & Active Nutrition Summit 2022 which will take place on Feb. 14-16 at San Diego’s beautiful Mission Bay. The event is being put on in cooperation with the Sports Nutrition Committee of the American Herbal Products Association and also will feature a What’s Up With Supps networking event.   For more information click the links below.

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