In the last six months, the UK has seen a surge in healthy living. The top five health-related buyer behaviour changes are giving entrepreneurs a new direction to take their businesses and focus on healthier living. Rather than push products, store owners can provide customers with the tools to make more mindful buying decisions about what goes into their bodies.
In this article, we will explore these 5 behaviours:
1) Buying organic produce; 2) avoiding processed food; 3) cutting out meat; 4) taking supplements or vitamins; and 5) drinking water instead of sugary drinks like soda or juice. Let's examine each one individually and see how it impacts consumers' mental states as well as physical fitness levels
1. Buying organic produce
Buying organic produce is one of the top five health-related buyer behaviour changes that has seen a surge in recent years. Organic-grown foods are usually healthier than their non-organic counterparts because they are free of synthetic chemicals, chemical fertilisers, and heavy metals. Additionally, organic fruits and vegetables often have significantly higher levels of antioxidants (which protects against chronic disease). Although organic produce can be more expensive than non-organic, the benefits outweigh the cost. The environmental benefits associated with buying organic cannot be ignored. According to a study by The Soil Association, organic farming can build up soil fertility and help increase biodiversity in surrounding areas damaged by conventional farming methods. This reduces the need for pesticides which will have significant long-term impacts on our environment.
Sales of organic food and drink in the UK rose by 6% last year to a record £2.2bn. After a sixth year of consecutive growth, organic food and drink sales have bounced back after plummeting following the recession. Last year’s £2.2bn figure – up from £2.09bn in 2016 – beats the pre-recession all-time high of £2.1bn in 2008.
“We know shoppers are putting increasing value on trust, transparency and traceability when making their purchasing decisions,” said Clare McDermott, business development director, Soil Association Certification.
“Organic delivers on those values and is also increasingly seen as the healthy and ethical choice thanks to mounting evidence of the difference between organic and non-organic, both in terms of nutrition and environmental impact.”
2. Avoiding processed food
The UK's most popular health-conscious purchase is the avoidance of processed food. This includes taking care to read ingredient lists and seeking out fresh fruits and vegetables instead. Stores with this focus have been seeing a significant rise in sales over the past six months. One of the primary reasons for this shift is that customers take their health into their own hands. Awareness has shifted to focusing on individual needs and what works best for each person. All of this is driven through new research on food and what makes it good versus potentially harmful. Customers are also interested in organic produce, which can be very expensive. One of the biggest instances where customers are making conscious buying decisions is when looking for ways to cut down on food costs.
Along with customers wanting to avoid processed foods, they also pay attention to new research on how certain foods can be good for them. One of the top five buyer behaviour changes is seeking out calcium-rich alternatives to dairy products, which means more non-dairy milk varieties are being sold across all health stores. For many customers, this means looking for almond milk or soy-based options.
Health stores are seeing an influx of dieting customers trying to boost energy levels or have special dietary restrictions. This means that they're starting to carry alternative organic snacks that are good for avoiding certain ingredients. Along with attention to ingredient lists, customers are looking for ways to make healthier choices when it comes to snacks. As a result, some of the most popular health-conscious customer buying behaviours include looking for grain-free and dairy-free snacks with healthy fat content.
Stores focused on healthy eating have seen a rise in customers seeking out alternatives to traditional cooking. Customers want to reinvent how they eat by finding creative new meal ingredients, snacks, and ideas for getting the family together for meals. Along with this shift, stores also see an increase in healthier cooking techniques. These include healthy frying options and re-envisioning how certain foods can be incorporated into a nutritious dish.
3. Cutting out meat
Eating meat has been shown to increase health problems, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and cancer. One of the top five buyer behaviour changes is therefore cutting out or reducing meat consumption.
As more people cut out meat, the demand for plant-based proteins is increasing. This has led to an increase in knowledge on healthy eating and an interest in vegan food products. Vegan diet culture is catching on worldwide as the benefits of cutting down or eliminating meat are becoming more known.
As more people become aware of the benefits of vegan diets, they are looking for healthier options that meet their needs. This is a trend that is likely to continue as health-conscious buyers push the market forward. This is not to say that meat products are bad or unhealthy for people. It is about making more mindful buying decisions, so your food contains fewer additives and is healthier overall. For example, vegetarian sausages can be as tasty as traditional pork sausages, but they often contain less fat, salt, calories, and preservatives.
4. Taking supplements or vitamins
In the UK, taking supplements or vitamins continues to see growth. People are seeing the effects of not having a balanced diet and looking for ways to add more nutrients, into their diet. In response, mainstream retailers have been focusing on stocking a larger range of vitamin supplements in-store.
So what can health store retailers do to stay ahead of the mainstream channels? Health Store retailers should prioritise stocking a more comprehensive range of supplements that offers higher quality and results-oriented solutions tailored to customer needs. Some might say that there is nothing really new there, but it just highlight even more no how important it is to differentiate themselves from the competition. They also need to offer ranges with different price points to meet peoples affordability. Furthermore, retailers need to stay up-to-date with current trends and work with supplement brands that provide education and support for their products in stores. After all, mainstream retailers will not have someone standing in the store to offer advice to customers on which is the best supplement for their health needs and budget.
The idea that vitamins and supplements need to be bio-available in order for them to work is something of a new discovery with consumers. In the past, we thought if something was ingested, it would have an impact on our health. We know now that many substances will pass through our body with less active nutrients ever making their way into our body to make real difference to our health. So what does this mean? Bio-availability matters! Therefore, it is now important to check the label to see how much of a vitamin or supplement is on the label and then check if it is in its most active form to deliver a bio-therapeutic effect.
Bioavailability can be increased by using active form nutrients i.e. methylated forms, and different delivery systems and carriers. Liposomes are one of these delivery systems.
Liposomes are small spheres suspended in a liquid. They entrap nutrients within the liquid inside and outer membrane, which is made of the same material as that of our cells. They are able to decrease bioavailability obstacles such as poor absorption rates due to high molecular size, low solubility, instability at physiological pH levels, and lack of cell permeability. Liposomal Supplements are increasingly in demand due to their ability to increase bio-uptake for nutrition and seem to be trending amongst vitamins, which means more people are looking for products that meet their needs in providing maximum benefits.
Glutathione is an ingredient that has seen rapid growth in interest as it known to reduce the effects of ageing, and there is a huge demand for Glutathione in health stores right now. Known as the 'master antioxidant', Glutathione helps boost the immune system, skin, brain, eye and liver health and detox heavy metals. Because Glutathione is not easily absorbed, the most effective delivery of Glutathione is in Liposomal Liquid form.
Vitamin D is another supplement that has seen an increase in popularity. Of course, Vitamin D is primarily obtained through sunlight, but more people are looking to supplement it, with more time spent indoors and changing seasons. For retailers, it is vital to understand the change in Vitamin D requirement from consumers to ensure they stock products that provide Vitamin D3 in the correct doses. Before Covid, 1000IU of vitamin D per day was seen as the norm, but with new evidence suggesting higher amounts should be taken daily, this level has doubled to 2000IU. With new evidence emerging about how vitamin K2 is more beneficial in helping to distribute Vitamin D3 more effectively, people are switching to a Vitamin D3 & K2 combination.
Vitamin D3 is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, improving bone health and preventing cancer, amongst other things. It can be found in fish oils, eggs and fatty fish like tuna.
These are just a few of the supplement trends happening in the UK's Health Food Stores. It shows how important it is to ensure that retailers stay tuned to the rapid changing needs of health conscious consumers.
5. Drinking water instead of sugary drinks like soda or juice
The fifth top buyer behaviour change for health stores is drinking water instead of sugary drinks like soda or juice. This change has been encouraged for a few years now, and it's finally catching on.
To cater to those who want a healthier option, more and more health stores offer healthy drinks for sale. Coconut water is found in most health stores because it has benefits like electrolytes and helps the body rehydrate. Other items include sugar-free kombucha, which recently became popular for its probiotic properties.
Store owners can continue to promote healthy drinks among customers by offering specials on certain drinks every week. Also, having contests or hosting special events like yoga workshops can get people excited about drinking more water and give them an incentive to try the healthier options in the store.
Conclusions and takeaway points about the top five health-related buyer behaviour changes
Buying organic produce, avoiding processed food and cutting out meat is a trend that's been around for years. But with the rise of veganism and other diets like gluten-free or paleo, people are more conscious about what they put in their bodies than ever before. This shift has been moved up a gear as a result of Covid where people are even more conscious about eating more healthily. One example is offering healthier drinks to customers who want something better for themselves but don't know where to start looking. Another way store owners can help customers make healthy choices is by better understanding their needs and suggesting the best products to get them started on their new journey.
The one thing about Health Stores which sets them apart from the larger supermarkets and pharmacy stores, is there unquestionable professional health product knowledge. No other store sector can provide the expertise and advice on health products, better than a health store. Health Stores must maintain this position and look at ways to re-enforcing this point to their customers. They must also ensure that they present the latest trends in product innovation on their shelves and ensure staff are educated to provide the information to consumers so they can make an informed buying decision.
Whatever you decide your strategy will be, keep these top five buyer behaviour changes in mind when developing it so that your store can take advantage of the growth potential.