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Canadians are putting their personal health and wellness needs at the forefront

Ipsos’ Kathy Perrotta on Canadians’ evolving health and wellness needs

Canadians’ needs, preferences and choices are being impacted by a colliding set of societal, cultural, economic and geo-political forces. Canadians are also resetting their health and wellness priorities.

The trend toward balanced health was well underway before the pandemic, but the lockdown period prompted a short-term shift toward collective well-being as we cared for each other. However, as things have normalized, Canadians are once again focused on being proactive with their health and are taking control with personalized health goals.

Their approach continues to focus on nutrient and nourishment intake, physical benefits and emotional well-being to support efforts to live well with healthy longevity. (Societal health or the well-being of the world and its citizens still factors into conscious health decisions.)

Ipsos FIVE consumption tracking reports that more than one-third (33%) of decisions in an average day are motivated by the demand for healthy and nutritious foods and beverages. This realignment of personal regimes offers a unique opportunity for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice operators to meet renewed expectations.

Nutrient and nourishment territory

The traditional health focus on nutrient and nourishment intake – more of the good and less of the bad – remains the largest territory influencing just under half of health-related decisions. And more than one in six label-reading consumers (64%) report that on-package detail from label flashes, nutrition facts tables or ingredient labels impacts their decision on whether to buy a product.

Country of origin, calories, sugar, protein, fibre, organic, artificial-free ingredients and flavours, and product naturalness all rank as important labels influencing choices. It is important to note that nutrient priorities do, however, change by product.

READ: Making the case for health guidance in the grocery store

Though this space is not the fastest-growing territory, it will remain important as new front-of-package labels hit store shelves and consumers see more labelling around sugar, saturated fat and sodium content. In FIVE’s ongoing tracking, more than two-thirds of adults (67%) report that these labels will impact their future buying decisions.

Physical benefits territory

Undoubtedly, the pandemic heightened consumers’ awareness of the power of foods, beverages and their functional ingredients to aid in their physical well-being. Emanating from that experience is the rising consumer focus on immune-boosting foods, beverages and ingredients. Immunity motivated choices lean to options that have a functional, fortification or fermentation element. Interestingly, beverages, led by strong innovation in this space, are more often selected. Mined from the FIVE database, the top item choices are: 1. Fresh fruit, 2. Juice, 3. Enhanced water, 4. Yogurt, 5. Hot tea, 6. Bread, 7. Cereal, 8. Milk, 9. Kombucha.

Ingredients such as turmeric, ginger and garlic are also being included in Canadian diets for their perceived immune-boosting benefits.

Emotional well-being territory

This territory is the fastest-growing health space led by demands to balance moods, boost focus and concentration, and relieve stress.

Interestingly, the rising demand for products that aid in emotional well-being shows strongest development among generation Z and millennial cohorts (11 to 42 years old). These items also hold a strong appeal to multicultural Canadians led by those from Chinese and South Asian origins.

READ: As more consumers prioritize health and wellness, grocers step up their offerings

These important groups are the fastest-growing cohorts in the Canadian population and represent the largest share of working adults.

The realignment of health priorities represents a huge opportunity for retailers and manufacturers. As demand grows, success in this space will be highly dependent on personalized communications rather than opting for a mass messaging approach.

Aiding consumers in their consumption decisions is key. Consider the integration of on-site or online nutrition consultants, and expert blogs and podcasts to assist consumers in their wellness journeys. When it comes to decisions around living a better quality of life with optimal longevity, rest assured Canadians are listening and willing to invest. 

This article first appeared in Canadian Grocer’s November 2023 issue.

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