woman looking at milk

A Quick Re-Cap of the Insights from Our Immune Health Webinar

Senior Marketing Manager, Niki Kennedy, shared Glanbia Nutritionals’ overview of consumer insights on the pandemic’s impact on wellness and nutrition from snacking to supplements.  

Immunity is at the forefront of the nutrition space, and the recent surge in consumer interest raises many questions on consumer trends, regulatory best practices and the practicalities of developing products to bolster immunity from concept to shelf. 

The pandemic has impacted consumer interest and concern for immune health and it will continue to be significant. While concern over immune health is showing a decline according to survey data from FMCG Gurus COVID study published in February 2021, globally, it is still a very real concern. Recent studies show the overwhelming majority cite their loved ones or their own health among their top three concerns. When consumers are asked about their own health, most have concerns about the virus, indicating immune health continues to be top of mind. Additionally, the responses show an uptick in other concerns including weight gain as well as mental health, signaling the longer term effects of the pandemic may not be just related to immunity. The pandemic heightened consumer interest in their own wellbeing, as well as their families. But consumers also want to enjoy their products, so we expect to see continued growth in enjoyable functional formats like gummies, snacks and beverages. 

Immune Ingredients

There are a variety of ingredients consumers associate with immunity. Some of them are more obvious, like vitamin C, while others may carry an overall health and wellbeing halo, like protein.

gloabl immunity

Supplements

Globally, supplements have been boosted by consumers' concern with health and are expected to remain high. According to sales data from Euromonitor, North America has the largest impact on the supplement market dynamics, growing year over year by almost 12%, a nearly 10% increase from growth the year before. It is followed by EMEA and then ASPAC, with slightly less retail jumps. There are many factors at play including economic impact to certain regions, like in South America, but in nearly all regions, it appears the pandemic boosted supplement sales significantly. In Glanbia Nutritionals’ Proprietary US Consumer Covid Tracker results from March, April and May 2021, 43% of respondents report they are currently using or have used in the past month a supplement for immune health.  

A poll during the live event indicated that 61% of webinar attendees were using a supplement for immune health, significantly higher than the general US population from our Covid Tracker. 

While there have been indications of concern dwindling, we expect consumers to maintain vitamin and mineral supplement (VMS) usage. Based on Glanbia Nutritionals’ own survey data in the US, most people plan to maintain usage and among category buyers, two out of three people are likely to spend more, which is promising for the category.

person holding pill bottle

Snacking 

Snacking is an area that has huge potential when it comes to functional and health benefits, and this idea is supported by data from the Hartman Group. Consumers are looking for snacks that help their immune health. Studies indicated that consumers who were working out of the home last fall were highly interested in snacks that supported their immune system. And the trend isn’t limited to the US. A Glanbia Nutritionals’ snacking case study in the UK and Ireland at the end of 2020 revealed that among nutrition bar consumers, immune system support is very important, with many similar ingredient associations as the US.

We wanted to know where our attendees stood on indulgence and health when it came to snacking. Not surprisingly, most attendees (57%) indicated they had chosen snacks that were both nutritious and indulgent. Nearly 1 in 5 (18%) indicated they had mostly chosen snacks that were comforting or indulgent with 16% leaning toward nutritious snacks. Only 9% of attendees indicated they didn’t snack at all. 

For brands targeting younger consumers in particular, understanding their snacking motivation is critical. Younger consumers are most often snacking to cope with stress/frustration or to comfort themselves, but they are also trying to limit their snacking, likely because they are indulging. There are opportunities for brands that can provide snacks that either 1) have ingredients that help with stress relief or relaxation or 2) can make snacking more appealing from a health perspective and for immunity. Brands should focus on nutritious indulgence to appeal to Gen Z & Millennial consumers. 

Protein is another opportunity to provide a nutrition benefit. Globally, consumers are making the connection between protein and immune health, as evidenced by data from FMCG Gurus. 

Functional beverages 

Functional beverages are a great opportunity for immune support ingredients. Beverages are used by consumers for a variety of reasons, especially for energy and hydration. However, immunity is now ranking second most appealing in terms of interested consumers and is in the top five for current usage by functional beverage consumers, according to the Hartman Group. Additionally, Glanbia Nutritionals’ own data confirms that functional beverages, especially juices and enhanced waters, are a category that US consumers want to see immune support ingredients in. 

Beverages are also a great opportunity to signal immunity to consumers through flavors. For brands considering building a beverage targeted towards an immune conscious consumer, consider citrus flavors which are associated with vitamin C, as well as superfruits like cranberry and the super popular elderberry, or other soothing kitchen remedies like ginger and honey.

Watch the full webinar here that features an in-depth discussion with regulatory expert Justin Prochnow of Greenburg Traurig. 

To dig deeper into the insights we found, or start a collaboration on your next product development for the post-pandemic consumer, contact us today. 

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