CHICAGO — Consumers are shunning cookie-cutter diets in favor of personalized health and wellness plans, according to The NPD Group. While dieting is declining, “my own diet” is ascending as the most common way consumers take control of their intake, according to NPD’s tracking of consumers’ eating attitudes and behaviors.
“Consumer attitudes toward health today have evolved beyond diet, exercise, and the specific attributes (presence or absence) of food items,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for The NPD Group. “Now they’re looking for personal plans that meet their own specific interests, and more importantly, their lifestyles.”
Looking the part
The new customized health and wellness lifestyle is less about actually living a healthy, active lifestyle and more about appearing to live one, NPD said. These consumers aren’t typically losing weight or incorporating exercise into their routines, but they are embracing the appearance of a lifestyle centered on wellness. From an eating behavior standpoint, this includes eating “wholesome” food, such as fresh, organic or non-G.M.O. items.
“Concern for and avoidance of traditional health-related attributes, like fat or cholesterol, is waning,” NPD said, “although sugar is still a concern.”
The rising popularity of technology that tracks footsteps and calories, such as wearable devices and apps, has enabled consumers to develop their own personal plans to meet their needs rather than relying on health plans based on averages, NPD said.
Additionally, technology is becoming an avenue to acquire healthful food and beverage. In the coming years, NPD said it expects more people to use retailers’ web sites or third-party sites, such as InstaCart.
Fresh meets fast
As consumers seek fresher, more healthful meals without all the prep time, they are making meals at home while also using dishes sourced from restaurants, NPD said. The purchased components are more likely to be appetizers or side dishes to help round out or complete meals.
“It’s yet another sign people want freshly prepared items in the home without having to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen,” NPD said.
This demand for quick, fresh options signals a generational shift; younger consumers eat fresh foods at rates higher than older adults did when they were the same age.
“As these younger consumers age,” NPD said, “their demand for freshness in a hurry will only increase.”
While consumers want to feel good about the food they buy, they also want to feel good about the company that makes the products and about how the food got to their tables.“Increasingly consumers are looking to support brands and companies that do more than manufacture a product — they want to support causes and actions aligned with their values,” NPD said. “People feel they’re doing right when they support companies that are connected to locally sourced ingredients, donations to charities, sustainable environmental practices, and animal welfare practices.”