chaz2In recent years British consumers have been happy to shell out for food and drink products and supplements that promise to help them become and stay healthy. But with the Coalition Government wielding fiercer cuts than Freddie Krueger, and consumers slamming on the brakes, the booming Healthy Living market could face ‘A Nightmare on High Street’ over the next few years.

For decades healthy living has been one of the most powerful purchasing motivators – as important a motive as feeling good and looking attractive is in the personal care market. But that was before the cuts. Just how ‘elastic’ in good old fashioned price/demand terms is the market for healthy living products going to be between now and 2014? It’s anyone’s guess.

Based on Mintel’s recent survey of internet users aged 16 plus, which of course took place before the cuts so doesn’t reflect people’s intentions in the new situation, Brits’ attitudes to health and lifestyle divide into four types: Health Freaks (17%), Health Aware (19%), Moderation In All Things (32%), and Am I Bovvereds? (32%.)

Health Freaks are especially likely to be older consumers, but there’s also an above-average representation among 25-34 men. They like to take ‘short cuts’ to healthy eating, eating ‘superfoods’ and following the ‘five a day’ rule for fruit and vegetables.

Health Aware consumers are also especially prevalent among 35-44 and over-55 women. They are interested in and fairly knowledgeable about health matters, and more than three in ten are always striving for a healthier lifestyle. They have a more conventional approach to health than most, preferring to stick to common-sense rules, and not particularly interested in keeping up with the latest health advice. They take a fairly stringent approach to eating, being especially likely to avoid chips/other fried foods. They also tend to avoid sweets, chocolate and red meat but take advantage of foods with specific health benefits, such as cholesterol-lowering spreads or probiotic yogurts, and are enthusiastic about ‘superfoods’.

Moderation In All Things is commonest among 45-54s, but also fairly prevalent among the over-55s, and women aged 25-34. They’re not obsessive about healthy diets but avoid unhealthy foods. One in five are ‘always’ dieting, and despite their stressful lifestyles, they place a priority on finding time to relax and unwind

Finally, the ‘Am I bovvereds?’ have stresses in their lives like everyone else, but tend not to take time out to relax and unwind. They’re not particularly interested in health checks, preferring to ‘live for today.’ They eat very little fruit and vegetables, but often consume sugary and fatty foods, and are nearly twice as likely to be male as female. Younger consumers (16-24-year-olds) are particularly susceptible, along with many 35-44s.

The bottom line is, Healthy Living products are a discretionary spend. The big question is, if the core consumers, the Health Aware, are cutting back, how much will healthy living products suffer?

The Grocery Trader

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