It’s that time of year when I gather and review all of the food and beverage and foodservice research we’ve conducted over the past year and begin compiling the next annual edition of Eating Patterns in America. One of the continuing themes I’m seeing this year is how U.S. consumers are redefining what healthy and wellness means to them. Consumer attitudes toward health and wellness have evolved beyond dieting and exercise, and are now more about a personal lifestyle in which wholesome foods and beverages play a role. Personal is the operative word. More than half of Americans agree they work hard to live healthy but define healthy based on their own needs.
As part of our study, Consumption Drivers: How Need Shapes Choices, we looked at the how, what, and why behind healthy consumption choices. The definition of healthy eating has been broadened to include how food is processed and produced, like clean labels, fresh, non-genetically modified, or organic. This broader spectrum of wellness is a primary need throughout the day but it manifests differently at each daypart based on each consumer’s motivations. For example, those making healthy and nutritious food choices at breakfast and snack times are driven by the need for a healthy start. Men, 65 and older, women, ages 45 to 64, and adults with no kids fall into the well-developed group for healthy start motivations. The need for smart choices is present for people practicing restraint at lunch, cutting calories and sugar to lose weight. The demographic skews for smart choices include men, ages 18-54, kids, and teens.
Beyond healthy eating behavior, our research partner, CultureWaves*, points out that today’s definition of wellness also encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health. Balancing the mind as well as the body has led to the creation of numerous apps, products, and services built around monitoring the influencers of physical and mental health. With greater access to information about their personal wellness, consumers are taking increasingly more responsibility for their own health, choosing to be proactive instead of reactive. With the assistance of technology, information at their fingertips, wholesome foods, and accessible nutrition and workout programs, health and wellness fits seamlessly into consumers’ everyday lives.
The irony of this modern approach to healthfulness is that, collectively, we aren’t exercising or dieting more and we’re not losing more weight, but that’s no longer the point, we are embracing a lifestyle centered on health and wellness and future well-being.
*CultureWavesTM provides consumer insights that are used by some of the top companies in the world to add a layer of qualitative behavioral insights to the traditional quantitative data, giving perspective and real time evidence around the evolution of a category. http://culturewaves.net