Healthy is the new wealthy. It’s not an exaggeration to say that health is the country’s new prestige barometer – meaning that the great majority of Americans would rather be considered healthy than wealthy. From getting more sleep, to eating less meat, Americans are beginning to think more about their health and the monetary costs of achieving and maintaining health.
1. America’s Infatuation with Boosting Energy… Naturally.
The recent surge in the popularity of liquid energy shots like Red Bull, Monster and 5-Hour Energy, should continue. Far beyond a Millennial-only trend, these products are becoming increasingly popular with seniors, as evidenced by 5-Hour’s partnership with actor John Ratzenberger. There is a potential for a backlash as health-seeking consumers look for the same boost from 100% natural sources with ingredients they can pronounce. These could include green tea extract, vitamins, whole grains, raw foods like bananas and dates, and specifically designed products like Jamba Juice and V8 Energy Shots.
2. Sleepless in America…Especially Among Women.
Sleep may be to this decade what fitness and diet were to the 1980s and 1990s. Faced with new evidence linking inadequate sleep with weight gain, high blood pressure, depression and lowered immunity, more consumers will connect health with shut-eye in 2012. Seventy-six percent of Americans want to improve the quantity and quality of their sleep, while the National Sleep Foundation says that two-thirds of all women have regular sleep problems. Globally, sleep deprivation affects the quality of life of 45% of the world’s population, according to the World Association of Sleep Medicine.
3. The Rise of the “Flexitarians.”
While the U.S. vegetarian/vegan population will remain small, more consumers in 2012 will become “Flexitarians,” those that consciously reduce their meat intake for health reasons but still occasionally enjoy animal protein. According to an Allrecipies.com study, more than 1/3 of home cooks reported eating less meat compared to a year ago, for the purpose of eating healthier and to save money. One of the best evidences of this trend is the growing popularity and social media following of the nonprofit Meatless Monday initiative, developed in association with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
4. Digital accountability.
The road to health and fitness can be a lonely one. People have always relied on the “buddy system” to increase their motivation to workout or achieve a personal health goal. Now, technology and social platforms are stepping in, to provide new ways to empower and motivate people to improve their health. For example, Stikk.com empowers consumers to create “Commitment Contracts” to lose weight, exercise regularly or quit smoking, while the Reebok Promise Keeper awards users with a Facebook or Twitter “call-out” when they complete a scheduled workout. 2012 will also be marked by more products like FitBit Ultra or Jawbone Up, which allow participants to wirelessly track their physical activity and progress online.
5. DIY health? There’s an app for that.
The DIY health movement that started as a backlash to high medical costs and impersonal service will continue to surface in 2012 in the form of smartphone applications enabling consumers to monitor their health 24/7/365. Examples range from Withering’s Blood Pressure Monitor, which takes the user’s blood pressure and sends it directly to a doctor, to the Skin Scan, which scans and monitors moles over time. The 9,000+ health-related apps in the Apple App Store is expected to balloon to 13,000 by the end of 2012.
These trends will have major implications for marketers and retailers looking to sway consumer opinion in the New Year and beyond. By looking at shared values instead of the more traditional metrics, we’re able to connect people at a deeper level on the basis of their common emotional and philosophical beliefs about health and wellness. The study gives us a unique vantage point to identify, follow, and predict consumer trends with surprising accuracy.
The Values Institute at DGWB is a social science research division of Santa Ana-based DGWB Advertising & Communications. The agency’s Balanced Healthy practice teamed up with Iconoculture in early 2011 to study the behavior of the 74 percent of Americans who actively take steps to maintain or improve their health. A total of 2,800 adults ages 18 and above participated in the national online study rating personal values and health actions. This undertaking led to the creation by DGWB and Iconoculture of six new healthy consumer segments that are based on shared values rather than traditional usage and demographics.