In the midst of a global pandemic, wellness and control over one’s health has become increasingly important to consumers. Wellness is not just a singular state of being, its intersectional, and complicated by individual’s lifestyles, environments and economic security. Consumers are finding wellness not just in exercise and fitness, but in things like digestive and mental health, and global sustainability. In this “Evergi” changing world (ha…see what we did there), companies both small and large are branching out and offering a wide selection of health and wellness products to cater to the needs of the consumers. These are the top wellness need states to keep your eye on in 2022.
It is no secret that humans have significantly impacted the climate through greenhouse gases, plastic waste, and dangerous manufacturing practices…but we have reached a critical point. Many scientists believe we are nearing irreversible damage as early as 2030. While many people do not believe in climate change despite the assurance of scientists and politicians, the obvious effects are all around us. In 2020, Texas wherr I live, we saw uncharacteristic winter storms that left thousands of Texans without power and leading to over 200 deaths. Scientists have seen the continual melting of ice caps across the globe. We know that we can have a positive impact if we shift our behaviors, proven when pandemic restrictions ushered in a temporary decrease of 20% in global nitrogen concentrations. With some sort of climate related issue in the news weekly, a large segment of consumers are increasing stressed, and seeking to do whatever they can to help aid in the saving of our planet. In our Evergi study, we consider these consumers to be in the Sustainability need state (42% of American consumers); these are consumers actively making choices like repurposing, buying eco-friendly, and eating more plant-based meals.
This last point, plant-based eating and vegan diets are on the rise. 57% of American consumers acknowledge that plant-based alternatives are better for the environment. Agricultural businesses, especially those involving cows, are some of the worst offenders in global warming. These industries contribute to greenhouse gas emissions due to the methane production of cows, as well as deforestation to create fertile land. To feel as if they are having an impact, many consumers have switched to plant-based diets or have at least increased their consumption of more sustainable meat alternatives. Plant-based products are generally more sustainable as these products are often created with sustainability in mind, using plants like soy and peas that cause less greenhouse gases to be emitted. While scientists are still unsure of how impactful plant-based meat would be for the environment, it has at least given consumers some sense of aiding in the global climate crisis.
The global pandemic continues to rage on as the Covid-19 virus mutates and produces new variants. Consumers are seeking ways to help improve their immunity and take back control over their health. This pandemic has led to the rise of the Immunity need state (32% of Americans), with consumers who are tapping multiple ways to increase their personal immunity. This generally comes in the form of supplements and vitamins however we have seen other products brought forward claiming to boost immunity such as super food infused sauces, functional beverages, and health shots come to market. With consumers’ strong desire to stay healthy, who knows what the newest immunity boosting product on the market could be. Keep your eye out for innovation in this space, since immunity concerns seem poised to be with us beyond Covid-19.
Wellness has become more than just exercising and staying fit. Gut health has increasingly become important to those seeking a more holistic approach to their health. In our Evergi study, we found that 39% of Americans fall into the Gut Health need state, actively seeking out products to boost their gut health and aid digestion. As science has advanced and more information is shared socially, more consumers are aware of foods that irritate their body. These consumers tend to discover their allergy/irritation through a doctor or through trial and error. Many "fad" diets such as gluten free and keto diets, are actually meant for those with underlying conditions such as epilepsy and celiac disease. However, through trying these diets, some consumers determine that they indeed feel better when following them. (I am incredibly grateful that the gluten free diet gained traction when it did; it’s spawned a wave of tasty products for my dietary needs!) When restrictive diet fads become popular, it's only natural that companies would want to cater to those consumers. Gluten free, dairy free, low fodmap, keto and paleo products are now ubiquitous in the retail space.
Along with products free of irritants, many products now boast the ability to assist with digestion through the inclusion of probiotics. Some people still choose to take probiotics in the traditional form of pills, however we are increasingly seeing innovative delivery methods for these gut health improving products. One of the most common delivery methods would be yogurt and yogurt drinks meant to be taken in the morning to jump-start your gut health for the day. Newer methods include products such as cookies that contain probiotics meant to be eaten any time of day. Whether people will adapt to newer delivery methods or simply go back to the way of a tablet is yet to be seen. It is very clear that digestive health is more important now than ever for consumers.
Humans are inherently a social species. We built our civilizations and our individual lives around how we interact and fit into the greater group. Requiring millions of people to stay at home for months on end, separated from living and moving together, was bound to have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Although the global pandemic has strained individuals’ mental health, it has aided in starting a conversation around it. Many celebrities have fueled the rise in mental health discussion by being open and honest about their own scuffles with mental health. Simone Biles opened up about her struggles and the mental impact of sexual abuse after dropping out of the Olympics. Ariana Grande has been open about her PTSD and mental health struggles after losing her ex-boyfriend and experiencing an attack at one of her concerts. Many other celebrities such as Chrissy Teigen, Steve Young, Michael Phelps, and Lizzo have also been open about their experiences. With consumers being more open to discussing mental health, companies are focusing innovation on products claiming to improve mental health. Almost half of Americans (47%) are currently in this Mental Health need state, seeking out products that help them reduce stress, relieve anxiety, and find ways to revive their minds.
Products meant to improve mental health span many categories from beverages to snack bars to supplements. Many of these products tend to include ingredients like Ashwagandha, with claims of being able to boost mood. There are even adaptogen-infused trail mixes claiming to have a positive effect on mood. While it remains to be seen whether these products can improve overall mental health, there's little sign that companies will stop trying to appeal to the mental health consumer.
Stress is unfortunately a common presence in everyday life. 36% of consumers have indicated a stress level of 4 or higher (on a scale from 1-5). There are many causes of stress including money, work, the news, Covid-19, children, and general health concerns. With the number of stressors growing by the day, it's no surprise consumers are seeking ways to relieve that stress. 32% of American consumers find themselves in the Relaxation need state, indicating they either know they need to relax more or are actively using products specifically to induce relaxation.
While some consumers choose to exercise or listen to music to relieve stress many also turn to consumer goods. Relaxation can come from many different categories with the most common being alcohol, cannabis, and tobacco. While traditionally, someone coming home from a hard day’s work might reach for a beer or a glass of wine, the options now for alcoholic beverages are endless. They have the option to reach for a variety of alcohol-based products including seltzers, ciders, and even pre-mixed cocktails, all product categories on the rise among American consumers. In recent years we’ve seen the rise of functional beverages, promoting relaxation and socializing elixirs without the use of alcohol. Instead, these products rely on the naturally uplifting qualities of ingredients like CBD, cordyceps, and lion’s mane.
Functional beverages dominated the most recent BevNet conference in December 2021. In fact, BevNet’s beverage of the year for 2021 was Hiyo, an adaptogen enhanced, social elixir meant to replace alcohol. Additionally, we continue to see cannabis as an ever-growing market that consumers are increasingly using for relaxation whether that be through smokables, edibles or even topical products. With the growing need for relaxation there are certainly more relaxation geared products to come.
10% of Americans bought plant-based meat in the last 3 months. It's no longer a niche trend for vegans and vegetarians.
The trends of drinking smarter and drinking less alcohol are driven by consumers keeping health and wellness in mind.