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‘Wellness’ is a concept that has taken on a life of its own. More than a trend, it is now becoming a movement and a way of life for many consumers in the UK. In fact, analysis from Google Trends reveals that wellness is no longer tied to the typical New Year spike in January but is now an ‘always on’ behaviour.
“It’s a shift that appears to go far beyond the more immediate effects of the pandemic, with potentially a long-term and far-reaching impact on the products and brands we buy,” Google’s wellness report says.
We’ve looked into six things that the fine food retail sector should know about wellness in order to understand their customers’ motivations, know which products to stock and how to boost sales.
According to Google’s research of search traffic, wellness has had sustained interest in the UK over 2020 and 2021, growing 21% year-on-year, indicating that your customers have likely heard at least a little about the wellness movement. When it comes to the products you stock, this means in addition to traditional wellness favourites, such as teas that offer calming benefits, you may find success with more advanced products, such as functional drinks which use specific ingredients to help consumers lead healthier lives.
Google has tracked a rise in search interest related to vegan foods across the entire food retail chain, with searches for ‘vegan meals’ up by 58% year-on-year, and ‘vegan recipes’ up by 40%, showing that both those looking for a quick meal or a scratch cooking experience are on the hunt for vegan foods. Other areas that might be impacted by the wellness craze are low and no alcohol drinks and products with strong sustainability credentials. For retailers and brands, Google says this growth poses an opportunity to align with “growing areas of interest in the category,” so finding your niche is key.
As the wellness industry grows, consumers who are interested in this lifestyle will be looking to support food and drink brands that not only improve the health and wellbeing of themselves, but also support the wellbeing of the planet. Attracting these ethical shoppers can be done through the products you stock, the transparency you provide around sourcing and environmental impacts, and even what you post on social media.
The rise of healthy food and drink has brought about an increase in consumers who are interested in the role that food and drink might play in their mental health as well as their physical health. A holistic approach is inspiring consumers to find products that “improve mood and boost brain health, as well as those with emerging functional ingredients,” according to Mintel’s Global Food and Drink Trends 2030 report. As well as products with traditional health claims such as lower sugar, botanicals like valerian root, chamomile flower, lemon balm and passion flowers claim to boost mood, while products containing CBD are said to have a calming effect on consumers.
Shoppers are ready to get into the nitty gritty of wellness, Google found. For instance, searches for ‘what is a vegan’ were down by 26%, but more specific, active searches, like ‘best vegan protein powder’, up 55%, were on the rise. This data shows that consumers are moving beyond the learning stage and are ready to ask more in-depth questions around these topics. For retailers, once again this means that consumers already have the basic knowledge, and they’ll likely be coming to you with more specific questions related to food wellness.
Another wellness-related trend that Google identified is ‘slow living’. Associated with minimalism and low-waste lifestyles, the search engine confirmed that many people took up new hobbies over the pandemic that were previously considered too time consuming, such as baking bread. Businesses associated with these industries, like cooking, can tap into this trend by marketing products as part of this slow living lifestyle – think scratch cooking a complex recipe or slow-roasting food over the course of a day.
With these insights into the wellness trend, retailers can better understand the shifts in behaviour that many of their customers are experiencing, leading to improved sales and customer retention.