“We want to be clear that we see personalization playing out across the entire wellness and health spaces, but it'll have the biggest impact on performance-focused consumers first,” said Niki Kennedy, director of insights and content at Glanbia Nutritionals.
The international nutrition company forecasts that sports nutrition products will diversify, smart technology will refine individual workout strategies and next-generation athletes will energize personalization in the coming year.
No one-size-fits-all athlete
In what she refers to as the “stratification of the athlete”, Kennedy said that “there is no one-size-fits-all athlete anymore” and that complex needs are starting to play out in the products that are being created for these different types of athletic and performance consumers.
“Now, pre- and post-workout are foundational to the sports nutrition category, but a quick look at performance goals indicates just how diverse the product landscape has become,” she added.
Glanbia’s latest Performance Nutrition Survey reported individual fitness goals ranging from weight loss and muscle building to maintaining healthy body composition and mental fitness. As such, it expects an increasingly diverse product landscape will continue to expand into more effective personalization around gender, age and needs.
CPG strategist Joshua Schall of J. Schall Consulting agrees: “Dr. Seuss famously said: ‘why fit in when you were born to stand out’, so it’s only natural consumers would desire CPG products as customizable as our individual uniqueness,” he told NutraIngredients-USA.
He added that this presents a challenge for a legacy value chain and supply chain optimized for make-to-stock products, which explains why CPG brands are starting to partner with, integrate or build technology solutions to enhance personalization.
Wearables and measurables
Personalization technology will become increasingly sophisticated, Glanbia predicts, moving beyond one-dimensional quizzes towards “wearables and measurables that give consumers real-time access to data about their nutrient needs, and AI will help them calibrate.”
As example, Kennedy highlighted the Gx Sweat Patch, which grew out of a Gatorade Sports Science Institute project to evaluate the hydration and nutrient needs of the Brazilian national soccer team leading up to the 2014 World Cup.
No longer reserved for the elite athlete, “that same type of technology is being rolled out to the everyday athlete at a pretty obtainable price,” Kennedy said.
The pared down version of the pro-original launched direct-to-consumer as a single-use patch that measures a user’s unique sweat profile and sodium loss. Combined with workout and body physiology data, it provides personalized hydration recommendations through the Gx Platform app. Gatorade also recently added a smart squeeze bottle to its “beyond-the-beverage” portfolio, which the sports performance company positions as “a personal hydration coach in a bottle”.
“We think that this type of real time, nutrient technology is going to go beyond hydration in the very near future,” Kennedy predicted.
Schall noted that fitness wearables like Whoop or even an Apple watch also provide several performance metrics and that continuous glucose monitors have become popular with athletes as part of their fueling strategy planning.
Next generation athletes
“Next generation athletes, like esports athletes, are going to help drive the category into a dynamic space,” Kennedy said.
This megatrend prediction draws on data from insights company Nutrition Integrated that shows that virtual athletes are looking beyond the old energy drink standby to fuel on-screen visual processing speed (64%), general energy levels (62%) and reaction time (60%), as well as alertness, sharper memory, performance accuracy and attention.
“Would high-level esports athletes be a great group of first adopters? Yes,” Schall commented. “Do I think this small cohort drives the innovation cycle towards the mainstream? No.”
Also on the radar is gender fluidity across the sports nutrition category and performance in general, which Glanbia notes will require brands to get creative when marketing around gender personalization.
“If we look at U.S. Gen Z consumers, of which 41% said they identify as neutral on the spectrum of masculinity and femininity, products of the future will have a new challenge in aligning with non-traditional gender norms,” Kennedy said.
Other themes on Glanbia megatrend: eatopia (eating towards holistic wellness), refocusing (energy and mental health), authenticity (sustainability, transparency and influencers) and co-creation (consumer feedback and limited time offers).
Sports & Active Nutrition Summit
Industry thought leaders will be speaking at the Sports & Active Nutrition Summit about the state of the market, quality and certifications, regulatory challenges, CBD, eSports, personalized nutrition, and more. The 2023 summit will take place February 15-17 in San Diego. For more information and to register, please click HERE.