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HEALTH | 06.02.2020

Healthier habits impact sales models and consumption

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The lockdown that has been imposed in many countries due to the coronavirus pandemic will be a turning point when it comes to many people’s habits. This is not a surprise given that most societies that have been compelled to adhere to this measure have never experienced anything like it. One of the trends gaining traction is the concern over leading a healthy lifestyle in which a balanced diet and exercise are particularly important.

Changes in consumption habits

While people have been on lockdown confined to their homes, similar trends have been observed in most countries. This includes things like the obvious surge in healthcare product purchases, especially those associated with protecting against infection, the substantial rise of e-commerce in some industries and an undeniable drive to adopt healthier habits.

In this sense, the pre-COVID-19 global trend that pointed to the growing interest in healthy eating and practicing sport has skyrocketed for two reasons: firstly, spending more time at home has led to people diversifying their diets and paying greater attention to what they eat and planning meals so that their diet is healthier; secondly, better health might help us be less prone to the devastating consequences not only caused by this virus but any other virus that may emerge from now on.

The United Nations itself recommends adopting healthier eating habits and emphasizes the importance of eating fruit and vegetables in a recent guide. “Healthy eating plays a key role in people’s health, as it strengthens the immune system, while sustainable habits, such as avoiding food waste, help maintain the health of the planet,” it explains.

The importance of food

Various studies and surveys have been carried out to ascertain this new reality. One example is the study carried out in Spain by the company Upfield featuring a sample of 2,000 people. It shows that during the quarantine, fruit consumption increased by 66 percent, vegetable consumption by 59 percent and that of fresh produce by 49 percent.

The main reason given by respondents for this was greater concern over their health (67 percent). This change is particularly relevant among the youngest generation; 80 percent of those aged between 25 and 34, and 73 percent of those aged between 18 and 24, claim that from now on, they will be more aware of the importance of their eating habits. In addition, 75 percent of everyone surveyed confirm that they will continue to make healthy and sustainable eating choices. A key aspect of this is—and will continue to be—the commitment to zero-KM products, since they not only revitalize the local economy but also contribute to a reduction in pollution from transport.

Furthermore, another example can be found in a Euromonitor study, which predicts that the food supplement market (concentrated sources of nutrients to supplement the diet) will increase by 22.2 percent by the year 2024 in Colombia, something that will be replicated in other Latin American countries.

Fitness, sport, physical exercise…

As with the food industry, the concern over maintaining good physical shape through regular exercise has been another feature of the lockdown period and it appears that this will continue to feature once things get back to normal.

A study by Mercado Libre in Argentina shows that 8 percent of the online orders made in the first few weeks of lockdown were for sports and fitness products, outperforming other sectors that traditionally sold more. In fact, sales grew 72 percent.

These figures are in concert with data from a survey conducted by the marketplace Doctoralia, which found that 51 percent of people have remained active in terms of exercise in their homes. Moreover, 36 percent had even increased their physical exercise compared to before the pandemic.

This desire to stay in good shape does not seem to be diminishing either. According to a report by Allied Market Research, sales of exercise machines will increase 10.1 percent every year until 2027. Most importantly, those sales will not only be for training centers and gyms, but 13.1 percent will be demand from companies that want to offer their workers a place to train with the aim of showing that they are committed to their employees’ health and for them to become more productive as a result.

Business values

As expected, these changes in consumption habits are having consequences on the world of business, both on businesses that are closely related to the food and fitness industries and on those who need to adapt to the new reality.

Most analysts currently stress the need to focus on communicating values and humanizing messages. More than ever, customers have become the center of business activity and they are no longer only choosing one brand or another based on products and prices, they are also looking for something extra: a commitment and a philosophy to believe in.

In addition, consumer confidence is recovering after plummeting in March and April. In the United States, for example, the first upturn since the beginning of the pandemic occurred in May, according to The Conference Board index. Something similar is happening on the Old Continent. As the European Commission just announced, consumer and business confidence is growing again after two very poor months.

New sales channels

In addition to this rise of values, which have special relevance in the market of healthy and sustainable food (environmentally friendly livestock and agriculture, local product consumption, etc.), interest in health has also resulted in the growth of e-commerce, making it a channel that many businesses will have to ‘explore’ if they do not want to lose a portion their sales.

After all, once consumers have experienced its benefits, many will still choose not to go to a physical store. In this instance, the food industry was less advanced in using e-commerce because buyers preferred to see what they were buying. However, with going the regular supermarket no longer possible, online orders increased, including amongst those segments of the population that used to be reluctant to use this sales model (older people).

In this regard, countries such as the United Kingdom have already experienced an increase in the sale of food (fresh produce) online. In a study by the company Amcor, it was stated that this sales model will grow 66 percent until 2023 in the UK.

This trend, which was gradually being adopted in some countries, is therefore expected to take hold in many more countries, even where consumers are more used to leaving their homes to make a purchase.

In short, companies will have to meet the needs and desires of people after having gone through a situation that may have changed our consumption habits forever; in the case of food and fitness, this seems to be for the better.