Young Women’s Health: Global Attitudes Towards Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Among the Under 30s and Market Impact

September 2015

As women aged under 30 years have more time and money to spend on themselves as they delay motherhood and pursue careers, investing in preventative health has become a priority. Drawing on results from Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends Survey, this new global report examines young women’s attitudes towards health and fitness, and the opportunities this brings in a range of markets, including weight management, dietary supplements, health and wellness, and sports clothing.

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Women's general health

Although only a slow-rising demographic, young women are becoming more economically empowered, due to their increasing tendency to further their education, gain professional employment and delay marriage and starting a family – often until their 30s or 40s.

Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends survey of 2013 found that, on the whole, under30s females perceive themselves to be in good health. 71% rated their health as 8-11 on a scale of 1-11, while just 6% rated their health as 1-4.

French and Brazilian women were most likely to consider themselves to be very healthy, with 41% of French and 40% of Brazilian women under 30 years giving their health a 10 or 11 on the scale.

Womens' attitudes to health prevention and wellbeing

The Global Consumer Trends survey revealed that taking health supplements is very common among under 30s females. As many as 71% of this group said they take health supplements or vitamins, although a below average 15% take them on a daily basis.

Consumption of health supplements seems to increase with age, as only 67% of females in the younger segment (aged 15-19 years) take them at all, and only 12% of this younger age group takes them daily.

Womens' attitudes to smoking and drinking

The survey confirmed that young women who smoke are in the minority. As many as 71% of under30s females said they never smoke, compared to 66% of all respondents. The percentage of non-smokers was much higher among the teenage contingent (80%).

Vaping (or e-cigarettes) is becoming increasingly popular among young women all over the world, and is frequently used as a way to quit smoking. The global market for vapour devices is estimated at US$5 billion globally, led by the US and the UK.

Alcohol consumption is common among young women, as they increasingly delay marriage and children in order to live life to the full. In addition, many are joining professions traditionally dominated by men, such as finance, which have a strong drinking culture.

Womens' attitudes towards fitness

Women still lag some way behind men in terms of sports participation, a factor that has been blamed partly on the lack of women’s sports coverage in the media, and partly on the stigma attached to female sports participation in some societies.

Nevertheless, more women than ever are taking up fitness activities, inspired by social media posts, energetic celebrities, the proliferation of fitness devices and apps, and government and sports companies’ efforts to engage women.

Celebrity and the media are a driving influence on young women’s attitudes towards health and fitness. Health-conscious female role models, such as Kim Kardashian, regularly post so-called “fitspiration” images on social media websites showing themselves working out.

Womens eating habits and nutrition

There is an enormous amount of pressure on young women to conform to media ideals of beauty. Bombarded with images of skinny models and celebrities from an early age, girls are conditioned to believe that “thin is beautiful”, and are on a constant mission to lose weight.

At the same time, overweight and obesity have become a major public health issue in many countries. This increases the risk of problems such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, gallstones, certain cancers, sleep apnoea, infertility and depression.

Womens' attitudes to vitamins and dietary supplements

Global sales of dietary supplements amounted to US$51.9 billion in 2014, having jumped by 21% in constant value terms since 2009. The vitamins sector grew at a lower rate of 12% over that period, to US$25.0 billion.

With increased market segmentation, there are a number of multivitamins brands formulated specifically for women – especially pregnancy and beauty supplements. In the UK, some 23% of multivitamins are targeted at women.

Probiotic supplements are also popular, as studies have shown they can help treat ailments such as vaginal yeast infections, UTIs and IBS. Overall, sales in the probiotics category rose by 61% in constant value terms between 2009 and 2014, to US$3.9 billion.


Spas and beauty parlours are benefiting from the growing focus on wellbeing, as they provide young women with a way to relax or spend time with friends. Global spa revenues grew by 7% in constant value terms over the 2009-2014 period, to reach US$59.7 billion.

Spas are going beyond relaxation, beauty and leisure services to offer products such as cosmeceuticals, functional ingredients that have an effect on the body (including anti-ageing ingredients), injectables and detox treatments.

Sports clothing and wearable tech

Women’s increased interest in sports and fitness activities, combined with a fashion for wearing athletic gear on an everyday basis, has significantly boosted the market for women’s sportswear. The US women’s sports apparel market grew by 8% in 2014 alone to reach a value of US$19.4 billion.

Nike was a key driver in the US market in 2015, directing its marketing efforts specifically towards women with its “Better for It” initiative. Women now account for a fifth of Nike’s sales, and the company has opened female-specific stores in the US, China and the UK.

Sports nutrition

Sports nutrition is a fast-growing area, with global sales rising by 52% in constant value terms between 2009 and 2014. Nevertheless, very few sports nutrition products cater to women’s specific nutritional needs.

This is changing, as sports nutrition continues to push further into the mainstream and manufacturers are looking to increase their appeal among non-core users, such as wellness- and fitness-minded women.

Studies show that women who visit gyms are increasingly using supplements, such as protein shakes, to maximise the effectiveness of their workout. These are often endorsed by fitness-minded celebrities, such as the UK’s Active Woman brand, advertised by Melanie Sykes.

Health foods and drinks

An increased interest in nutrition and food origin among younger women has driven the global market for health and wellness products. This trend is apparent mainly in developed markets but also among urban consumers in emerging markets, such as China and India.

With consumers thinking about food in the context of healthy eating rather, than just reducing calories, fortified and functional (FF) products and organic products have performed far better than BFY (better for you) products in recent years.

Other types of fresh food have benefited from the trend towards natural ingredients. The popular Paleo Diet requires followers to eat only naturally occurring food, such as grass produced meat, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables.


Young women will continue to take a growing interest in their personal health over the forecast period, influenced partly by the increasing amount of health messages and nutritional information targeting them via the media and internet.

The rising number of women delaying motherhood and going into higher education and employment means they will have greater disposable incomes to spend on health and fitness, as well as a growing need to achieve a work-life balance.

Many women will adopt a more holistic view of healthy weight and body image as they realise the need for total nutrition and exercise regime change, rather than relying on “miracle cures”.

In line with the focus on healthiness and nutrition, young women will pay closer attention to food labels and eat more naturally healthy foods.

The future may see more vitamins and dietary supplements formulations developed to appeal to young women, such as those containing B vitamins, vitamin D, calcium, iron, probiotics or female-friendly plant extracts such as evening primrose oil or grapeseed oil.


General health
Health prevention and wellbeing
Smoking and drinking
Attitudes towards fitness
Eating habits and nutrition
Market trends
Vitamins and dietary supplements Spas Sports clothing and wearable tech Sports nutrition Health foods and drinks
Summary 1 Young Women’s Health: Opportunities For Marketers


Table 1 Number of Women Aged 15-29 by Country 2009/2014
Later motherhood
Women wait longer to have families Improved access to contraception India and Latin America have the youngest mothers Chart 1 Age of Women at First Childbirth in Selected Markets 2014
Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends survey


Perception of personal health
Most consider themselves to be healthy Chart 2 Young Women: Perception of Personal Health by Age Group 2013 French and Brazilian women score highest Japanese women have negative attitude Chart 3 Young Women: Perception of Personal Health by Country 2013
Health prevention
71% of young women take dietary supplements Chart 4 Young Women: Frequency of Taking Health Supplements/Vitamins by Age Group 2013 US women are the largest supplements consumers Chart 5 Young Women: Frequency of Taking Health Supplements/Vitamins by Country 2013 Popular women’s supplements Summary 2 Vitamins and Dietary Supplements Beneficial to Women VMS market trends Beauty from within Probiotics on the up Table 2 Global Sales of Health Supplements 2009/2014
The pressures of modern life 70% of 20-something women engage in stress-lowering activities Chart 6 Young Women: Frequency of Participating in Stress-Lowering Activities by Age Group 2013 Indian women most likely to seek relaxation Chart 7 Young Women: Frequency of Participating in Stress-Reduction Activities by Country 2013
Spa trends
A focus on wellness and beauty Spas play a big part in Japanese culture Chinese market thrives Table 3 Revenues from Spas in Key Markets 2009/2014
Smoking levels lower among young women Chart 8 Young Women: Frequency of Smoking Cigarettes by Age Group 2013 French and German women smoke the most Chart 9 Young Women: Frequency of Smoking Cigarettes by Country 2013 French women favour flavoured cigarettes The vaping boom Table 4 Female Smoking Prevalence by Country 2009/2014
A drink to unwind Chart 10 Young Women: Frequency of Consuming Alcohol at Home by Age Group 2013 Chart 11 Young Women: Frequency of Consuming Alcohol Away From Home by Age Group 2013 German women consume most alcohol Binge drinking on the rise in France Indian women abstain Chart 12 Young Women: Frequency of Consuming Alcohol at Home by Country 2013 Chart 13 Young Women: Frequency of Consuming Alcohol Away From Home by Country 2013 Opportunities for drinks manufacturers


Women become more active The celebrity influence Functional fitness Most women exercise at least once a week Chart 14 Young Women: Frequency of Taking Part in Physical Exercise by Age Group 2013 Indian women are the most active This girl can Chinese women become more empowered Japanese women buck the trend Chart 15 Young Women: Frequency of Taking Part in Physical Exercise by Country 2013 Women’s team sports become more popular Running takes off The yoga boom Table 5 Young Women: Frequency of Sports Participation by Age Group 2013 Brazilian and Indian women participate most in team sports Japanese women avoid sport – though this may be changing Chinese prefer individual activities The UK’s “protein princesses” Table 6 Young Women: Frequency of Sports Participation by Country 2013
Women’s sportswear
A burgeoning sector Fusing fitness with fashion Net-a-Porter launches new activewear concept Fast fashion retailers enter the fray Chinese market remains dynamic Trainers with skirts are the fashion in Japan Table 7 Sales of Women’s Sports Apparel in Key Markets 2013/2014
Fitness apps and wearable tech
Digital coaches Young women are key users of fitness bands Sportswear companies develop their offerings The future is wearables
Sports Nutrition
Celebrity influence Expanding the target audience Table 8 Global Sports Nutrition Sales 2009/2014


The world is getting bigger US has highest levels of female obesity Chart 16 Female Obesity by Country 2009/2014
Weight management
Women aspire to be thin Weightwatchers retains a loyal following Almost a quarter of under 30s on a weight loss diet Japanese women stay slim Chart 17 Young Women: Weight Management by Age Group 2013 Chart 18 Young Women: Weight Management by Country 2013
The weight management market
Under 30s a key market South Korea sees a boom in diet shakes Herbalife dominates in meal replacement slimming Weight loss supplements continue to grow The emergence of new formats Slimming teas remain stable OTC obesity suffers heavy losses Table 9 Global Sales of Weight Management by Type 2009/2014
Special diets
Allergies and food intolerance on the rise Chart 19 Young Women: Food Intolerances by Age Group 2013 Chart 20 Young Women: Food Intolerances by Country 2013 The “free from” market Lactose- and gluten-free products go mainstream US market benefits from tighter regulations surrounding gluten-free Table 10 Global Sales of Food Intolerance Products 2009/2014
Meat avoidance
Ethical vegetarianism gains ground Young women more likely to be meat-avoiders Chart 21 Young Women: Dietary Preferences by Age Group 2013 Chart 22 Young Women: Dietary Preferences by Country 2013
Food attributes
The young eat healthier The dangers of salt Organic food: The jury is out Shunning sugar The backlash against corn syrup Chart 23 Young Women: Food Factors Sought by Age Group 2013 Chinese women seek fortified foods Chart 24 Young Women: Sought-For Food Attributes on Food Labels by Country 2013 Sugar backlash strongest in China and the UK Brazilians wary of corn syrup Added salt unacceptable in India and China Chart 25 Young Women: Ingredients on Food Labels Sought by Country 2013
Trends in health and wellness products
“Reduced” claims no longer enough Chinese seek to rebalance their diet Backlash against artificial ingredients benefits the NH category Organic food goes mainstream The trend towards healthier drinks Surging demand for coconut water Health benefits of green tea Stevia drinks Table 11 The Global Market for Selected Healthy Food and Drinks 2009/2014


Health and fitness will take priority Continued trend towards later motherhood Chart 26 Forecast Age of Women at First Childbirth in Selected Markets 2014/2019 Obesity rates will keep edging up Chart 27 Forecast Mean Female BMI in Selected Markets 2014/2019 Diet shakes will continue to thrive Table 12 Forecast Global Sales of Weight Management Products 2014/2019 A greater focus on the nutritional qualities of food and drink Anti-sugar movement to gain momentum A bright future for health and wellness products Special dietary requirements to become more common Table 13 Forecast Global Sales of Selected Health Foods and Drinks 2014/2019 The need for preventative self-care Potential for segmentation within sports nutrition Table 14 Forecast Global Sales of Selected Health Foods and Drinks 2014/2019 Growing participation in sport Spurred on by the online community Fitness is fashionable The expansion of wearable tech Dedicated social networks will develop Mindfulness devices Opportunities in “athleisure” apparel


Questions included the Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends survey of 2013:


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