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4 lesser-known functional nutrition trends set to make a big impact in 2020

2020-02-21 17:05 Friday


The consumer expectation for healthy and wellness-focused nutrition has evolved quickly over the past year in the Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world. So much so that several of the biggest trends of 2019 are already considered by some to be out of date.

Therefore, let's take a look at a few of the focus points to emerge recently which have been singled out as key strategies for success. Today's nutrition companies must be in tune with the right trends, the right consumers and the right brands if they want to be successful through innovation.

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1. Storytelling to create a consumer bond

The importance of storytelling should not be overlooked by brands looking to connect with the consumers of today. Storytelling joins the dots and creates the bond between a brand and its customers.

Experts insist consumers will connect best with brands that exemplify their own beliefs. When the bonding is done correctly, brands will enjoy free endorsements of products on social media and within communities, with influencers spreading the word on what they love about the brand.

However, done wrong, storytelling can lead to unforeseen difficulties. Some warn there is a risk of alienating a customer base, being dismissed as 'fake', or even worse by being seen as a hypocrite for exploiting a group's values for short-term gain.

2. Sustainable food and drinks

A key trend of 2020 describes the move from seemingly unlimited, to limited natural resources. One of the ways to cater for this is seen to be with sustainable nutrition, including sustainable production and sustainable ingredients.

According to experts, while last year's consumer may have been interested in living a more sustainable life through basic recycling efforts, in 2020 it is seen as their responsibility to go green and they’re reconfiguring their lifestyles to try and make a positive impact.

Plant-based is a clear strategy in this area, and consumers have already moved from products that simply imply they are plant-based, to choosing "clean" or less process-intensive plant-based alternatives which have a recognizable, short list of ingredients.

One such example is Rise Bar, from the US, which claims to offer the "simplest" protein bar, with its products containing around 5 "real food" ingredients.

3. Scientific nutrition for a smarter future

The monopoly pharmaceutical companies have held over providing curing and nutrition, especially in terms of disease prevention, is fast disappearing. One of the main opportunities for new brands to cater to this trend is through targeted nutrition.

An example of targeted nutrition is 'adaptogens' - a group of herbs and plants that proponents say can support the body's natural ability to heal with stress through the endocrine system and nervous system.

For example, in Japan, Suntory, a brewing and distilling company group made a mixed tea drink called Black Sesame Barley Tea for people with high blood pressure. The claimed blood pressure-lowering effect is achieved through the sesame extract "sesamin peptide".

The US brand, Hum, also sells a caffeine-free Uber Energy supplement formulated to raise energy levels through adrenal strength including eleuthero, rhodiola and ashwaganda.

Consumers are increasingly looking to get either an energy boost or something to calm them down, and they are doing this through clean, natural solutions that promote energy levels over the long-term without any dips in-between.

Consumers are moving away from better-known stimulants and towards natural boosts, such as those found in natural medicine. For example, Amaiva Joy of Living Tea, from the UK, which tells consumers to "Brighten your day" with a mood-enhancing tea.

4. Sleep-boosting formulas

Rounding out this interest for science-driven nutrition, there is also a trend for thinking of sleep as a source of health, with consumers moving away from the notion that it is something they have to have, towards the notion that it should be part of their daily self-care routine.

Sleep is being seen as just as important as eating and exercise. One example of a product tapping into this trend is Healthful Co. Ltd. Nice Dream, from Thailand, which is a plant-based functional drink containing L-theanine, adaptogens and other natural extracts. It promotes itself as offering a good night sleep for office workers, stewards, pilots or seniors


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