Last year was often described as “unprecedented.” It was one in which we all had to say goodbye to “normal” and adapt to the trials and tribulations of COVID-19. The pandemic brought about major changes in consumer behaviour, with people having to find new ways to stay fit and healthy while mostly being confined to their homes
As such, mobility has become a top concern for many … and certain trends are growing faster than anticipated. This means companies around the globe must adapt quicker than ever before to find the right solutions — all while catering to a rapidly expanding consumer audience.
To help supplement companies prioritise on-trend solutions, tap into evolving science and shine a light on emerging consumer behaviours, Jaume Reguant, Healthcare Director at Bioiberica, examines the top five factors influencing the mobility market that you need to know about to take your product innovation to the next level in 2021.
Previously, notions of joint health and mobility have centred around the ageing population and managing conditions that tend to come with getting older, such as osteoarthritis.
Perhaps the only exception to this was athletes taking supplements to boost their performance. However, the growth of the “active nutrition” category, built on a wider range of consumers turning to exercise to support their health, has fuelled a shift in consumer demographics interested in joint health — bringing mobility into the mainstream.
This trend has been growing for some time; between 2014 and 2018, active nutrition represented the largest segment (24.9%) of new product launches featuring a joint health claim.1
But in 2020, even more people sought to take their health and wellness into their own hands, looking for new ways to exercise, improve their diet and stay fit. In fact, reporting on the impact of the COVID-19 on consumer behaviours, FMCG Gurus found that 30% of consumers turned to supplements in the first 6 months of the pandemic to help manage their overall health.2
Throughout 2021, we will likely see mobility shift even further into the mainstream, away from being a concern of older generations or seasoned athletes.
In fact, further research from FMCG Gurus already shows that consumers aren’t just seeking nutritional solutions before or after a big workout, but to support an overall healthier lifestyle (with 41% of consumers using sports nutrition products in everyday life).3
This is unlikely to be a short-lived trend; for many, the COVID-19 outbreak provided the motivation to make long-term lifestyle changes, so expect to see increasing numbers of younger people looking to support mobility in the coming months.
The knock-on effect of a broader spectrum of consumers is a wider range of needs. With less focus on “physically active” consumers and more on “health conscious” ones, we expect to see more crossover between product categories than ever before.
This shift is part of a larger trend towards holistic health as consumers increasingly seek to improve overall feelings of well-being, rather than targeting a specific health concern.
A significant 61% of global consumers say they are interested in products that address cognitive, digestive, heart, immune, skin and joint health, even when not suffering from specific health problems.4
To capitalise on this, companies must take a more integrated approach to their solutions, incorporating muscles, tendons and movement as a whole. Think less “joint health” and more “holistic mobility.”
Convenient “better for you” products that are not just nutritional, but also bring added health benefits, support mobility and improve fitness or sports performance, are likely to appeal to consumers more than products that aim to target problems in isolation.
Providing multiple benefits through combined solutions requires formulation flexibility. In 2021, new generation ingredients are expected to become more established, or find their way to market, to meet the growing demand for effective products with market standout.
In the mobility space, for example, collagen has been the cornerstone of product formulation and remains a popular choice; there was a 30% increase in US dietary supplements containing collagen in 2018.1
Historically, hydrolysed collagen has been one of the sector’s key ingredients, but it has its limitations; it can impact a product’s overall taste owing to the presence of protein off-notes, as well as having an unappealing texture.
This is where new ingredients are rising to the fore. Native type II collagen is efficacious at a low dose of just 40 mg/day, as opposed to the 10 g/day required for hydrolysed collagen.5,6
For manufacturers, it provides increased flexibility and compatibility with other ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine.7 For consumers, it means needing only one supplement per day.
Type II collagen has been gaining traction in recent years; it was the second fastest growing joint health ingredient between 2014 and 2018.1 With increased demand for holistic solutions, expect popularity to go nowhere but up! In fact, the native type II market is forecasted to grow by 4.9% CAGR to $252.3 million by 2027.8
It may come as no surprise that functional foods are on the rise; between 2017 and 2018, launches of functional foods increased by 17% and has continued to grow as customers look for food and beverage products with added nutritional value.
In addition, consumers’ lives are becoming increasingly busy, creating a need for tasty, convenient, on-the-go products that support their health.
In the wake of the COVID-19’s health-consciousness boom, functional foods remain an NPD priority; research suggests that 29% of consumers are eating and drinking more functional foods and beverages in response to the pandemic.9
Don’t expect the traditional capsule supplement to go away just yet though: the same report suggests that 31% of consumers are taking more supplements too.
Capsules remain a firm favourite amongst joint health manufacturers as they enable the safe containment of a wide range of ingredients, making them ideal for new holistic mobility solutions wherein functional foods may be hampered by formulation challenges.
Low dose ingredients — such as Bioiberica’s Mobilee hyaluronic acid matrix and b-2Cool native type II collagen — can help with this challenge, but we expect traditional supplements such as pills and capsules to remain present for now.
With consumers pursuing more active, healthier lifestyles, it’s no wonder that there’s been a stark increase in products with active health claims. Take collagen product launches, for example, for which joint health was the fastest-growing claim between 2015 and 2019.10
There is, however, evidence of growing consumer scepticism when it comes to health claims, and regulatory bodies are cracking down on claims that are deemed to be deceptive; one such high-profile incident includes experts at the British Dietetic Association warning of “wrong and immoral” advertising in 2017.
Low levels of consumer trust can lead to confusion about the benefits of key ingredients. So much so, that last year, the Collagen Stewardship Alliance called for more transparency and verification of the science behind claims to protect consumers.
Now, more than ever, people want to feel that their health and wellness is in good hands; and, given the current global climate, we anticipate the increased scrutiny of health claims in 2021 and beyond.
To start addressing this issue, manufacturers must seek ingredients with scientific backing and proven efficacy, especially if they are looking towards emerging ingredients for use in novel formats that may not yet be established in the market.
The joint health and mobility market is seeing rapid growth and huge diversification as consumers of all ages demand more from their nutrition; the continuing COVID-19 pandemic is set to expedite this growth through 2021.
Although supplements are still a preferred delivery format, the rising demand for alternatives presents both a challenge and an opportunity.
Now is the time to innovate — but supplement manufacturers must look for scientifically backed ingredients that demonstrate efficacy to build and maintain trust in their products and the wider industry, as well as ingredients that respond to the demand for holistic solutions.
New generation ingredients — such as b-2Cool native type II collagen — which are effective at low dosages, are ideal for the development of convenient, holistic products and will help propel growth for brands in the next 12 months and beyond.