With unprecedented access to information and an arsenal of tools at their disposal, consumers are taking active control of their own health."

Consumer and product trends show movement in a market and reveal new opportunities — and when changes in consumer preferences intersect with product innovation and effective branding, it’s time to take notice.

This is especially true now in the wellness sector, where even before the pandemic consumers were increasingly seeking out health and self-care solutions. Today, with interest in products for mind and body wellness at an all-time high, opportunities abound.

As they position themselves for a post-pandemic world, brands and retailers should consider these three fast-growing consumer trends:

1. Seeking self-empowerment

With unprecedented access to information and an arsenal of tools at their disposal, consumers are taking active control of their own health, even when they’re not sick.

Technology is one of the major drivers of consumers’ more proactive healthcare strategies. Biometrics and data analysis can help identify illness and disease earlier, while automation and self-service help remove friction between the consumer and their healthcare provider. Healthcare of the future will likely be made up of overlapping platforms that connect the user’s behavior, health history and providers into one seamless ecosystem.

Self-empowerment is a trend showing up in the rise of at-home monitoring products, such as a device that reveals when a body is burning fat or carbs, a smartwatch that measures blood sugar and a sleep-tracking mat that offers sleep cycle analysis, heart rate and snore detection all syncing to a health-tracker app. At-home testing kits, too, are taking off as consumers look for answers in the comfort and privacy of their own homes. They’re buying kits that help them understand how their thyroid is working or disclose food sensitivities, allergies, vitamin D levels, heart health and more.

Other items appeal to consumers’ desire for health and wellness products “just for me,” such as a personalized nutrition brand that collects a person’s DNA via a vial (similar to 23andMe) and provides feedback on what foods are best for user. One test on the market reveals a person’s disposition to develop more than 100 diseases, plus traits such as alcohol tolerance or propensity to baldness or obesity.

2. Striving for emotional wellness

A pre-pandemic study by Gallup on emotional states showed more than half of the American population experiences stress daily, 20% higher than the world average. After a year and a half of social turmoil and pandemic-driven isolation and disruption, we’re all feeling more fragile, but Generation Zers may be the most overwhelmed as they grapple with emotional challenges from anxiety and stress to depression — and emerging brands are taking notice. But in their quest to find calm in the storm, consumers of all ages are turning to stress-relieving products and practices.

We’re seeing emerging brands hit the market with natural and alternative foods and  technology-forward solutions, such as a blend of flower remedies that are marketed as being especially beneficial during traumatic or stressful situations; a full-spectrum light box said to improve mood, energy and sleep patterns; and an immersive meditation headband that offers real-time brainwave feedback.

Other products help manage stress through relaxing scents, such as compact personal diffusers and calm-inducing candles. In fact, from March to December 2020, candles and home fragrance ancillary gifts saw double-digit dollar gains, according to NPD.

Consumer interest in products containing adaptogens — herbs and mushrooms purported to support a body’s natural ability to deal with stress — rose 55% in 2020 and online conversations around adaptogens increased eightfold, according to Spoonshot.

Supplements with ashwagandha, for example, saw a 3,995% increase in sales in the U.S. sleep-support category for the 52 weeks ending November 29, 2020, according to SPINS data and are considered nearly mainstream. Now, we’re seeing more shelf space devoted to products containing holy basil, reishi, maca, ginseng and turmeric. Recent finds: A sparkling water infused with adaptogens and hemp extract and dissolvable strips formulated with ginseng, reishi and theanine promoted to minimize stress-induced irritability and promote an overall feeling of well-being.

3. Looking for renewal and restoration

Consumers are also picking up products that promise to renew, repair and replenish their physical and mental well-being.  A host of emerging products promise to work with the body’s natural circadian rhythm to heal and restore during sleep. These include overnight “cell renewal” supplements with ceramides, antioxidant ferulic acid and other ingredients to improve skin texture; overnight fat-burners, acne cures and hair-growth remedies; and a natural sleep aid formula designed by health professionals to support a person’s natural sleep cycle.

Others aim to restore mental clarity. Once thought of as products for seniors, brain boosters are now getting the attention of consumers of all ages. Among those gaining interest are a nootropic smart drink that boasts clinically proven ingredients to help heighten focus, boost productivity and energize the mind and a coconut-derived oil that can be added to other foods.

Whether leveraging the latest technologies or anchored in centuries-old practices, emerging brands in the wellness space are connecting with consumers looking for new products that promise to help prevent and relieve physical, mental and emotional ailments.

Advantage Solutions

Joe Driscoll
President, Drug, Advantage Consumer Healthcare and JLB
Advantage Solutions

Joe Driscoll leads Advantage’s drug channel business, Advantage Consumer Healthcare and JLB retail consultancy for Target. Before joining JLB in 2020, he served as CEO of Pearson’s Candy Company.

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