By 2040, the average global life expectancy is projected to rise to 76 years, marking a noteworthy increase from 72 years in 2020 and 68 years in 2000. This impressive achievement has been made possible by various public health successes that have significantly improved healthcare access and quality of life. World Health Day 2023 is celebrating this positive trend with the slogan, "Health For All". However, while it is important to acknowledge and celebrate these accomplishments, it is equally important to recognise the evolving health challenges that will continue to impact both consumers and businesses in the future. This article aims to highlight these challenges and their significance.
Lifestyle diseases are becoming more prominent
As we move on beyond pandemic, one of the biggest concerns in the health domain is the increasing prevalence of lifestyle diseases. Deaths from diseases of the circulatory system such as ischaemic heart disease and cerebrovascular diseases remain the top reason for global deaths from diseases, followed by cancer (malignant neoplasms) and respiratory system conditions. In the absence of proper precaution and care, unfortunately, incidences of the top causes are not forecast to recede.
At the same time, health risk factors like high blood glucose and high blood pressure are becoming more prevalent, complementing the rocketing global obesity rates. Interestingly, despite the growing rates, healthy weight is disappearing from consumers’ radars, signalling that higher BMIs are a new normal of today’s and the future population.
Though there is growing awareness about the need for health and wellbeing, it is not enough to fight against the exploding epidemic of unhealthy living. Brands along with advocates of health are focusing on developing and launching multifunctional products, services and solutions. For example, in July 2022, Swedish food tech start-up Mycorena announced that it had created a prototype for the world’s first mycoprotein-based butter. The product, which is made from a unique fungi-based fat ingredient requiring very few additives, is intended as a healthier alternative to conventional butter, being both cholesterol free and lower in saturated fat.
Perception of health also helps identify growth pockets
According to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey 2022, more consumers, especially from the young cohorts such as millennials and Generation Z, are prioritising essential aspects of health like mental wellbeing and having a healthy immune system. Consumers, especially those aged 15-29, who have reported “severe” or “moderate” impacts of stress, highest among all age groups, are turning to “digital detox” and “minimalism” trends, both of which have mindfulness and reducing stress at their core.
Post-pandemic consumers are interested in multifunctional products that provide convenience while helping them to fight stress and focus on their mental health and immune system. Several packaged food companies are already riding on the trend by launching ready-to-consume food and beverages with added nutrients or local ingredients which are used as unique selling points. For example, in 2022, Tera Food & Beverage Co in Thailand launched two new herbal-based functional RTD products under its QminC brand: Ginger with Honey and Finger Root with Honey. The drinks are low-calorie and contain beta-glucan to provide immunity and fight infection, as well as vitamins C, D and E and zinc. In the mental health space, Natrol has launched its Natrol Sleep+ line which is an expansion of its sleep aid product. The latest product includes a blend of its standard melatonin sleep aid with l-theanine, ashwagandha and lemon balm for relaxation.
Top three strategies to address consumer pain points in health
Despite advancement in the medical field, comparatively better access to healthcare and the intensive movement towards healthy lifestyle, the health challenges for consumers are daunting. While public health organisations focus on “health for all”, health at individual level remains multilayered. Thus, for organisations to capitalise on opportunities for expansion and growth, the focus should be on three key aspects: convenience, multifunctional, and mental health-orientated.
For more discussion and analysis read our report, New Consumer Landscape: The Consumer Is Changing.