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Health & Wellness Trends: Energy Is More Than a Beverage

Energy Is More Than a Beverage

“Wellness” is everyday life. As we’ve documented extensively in this newsletter over the years, we’ve witnessed a profound cultural shift from “health” to “quality of life” and from reactive health to proactive wellness. While consumer segments may continue to vary in their level of knowledge, their degree of influence and their intensity of engagement in wellness institutions, they now largely share the idea that health and wellness is about a higher quality of life for longer. This broadened notion of wellness has become a tacit part of culture rather than a lifestyle choice or an alternative movement.

A vital element of health and wellness today is “energy.” Having the right amount of energy means that consumers can “live the life I want.”

Energy is a broad topic and, much like the mindsets around health and wellness, it means diverse things to different people; there is no single consumer definition of energy. Yet consumers across all age groups feel the need for sustained, balanced energy. Suffice it to say, energy is much more than a beverage.

“I need to have lots of energy. I can't do what I need to do without it…coffee is an artificial energy, but it primes the pump. The best energy is cardio and protein and veggies. It's deep and comes from a different place.” —Mid-level Wellness Consumer

Today, we hear consumers talk about energy as a problem that has developed into its own distinct health concern on par with issues like controlling weight and physical fitness. This is a departure from the past: energy management today is a balancing act that affects all other aspects of wellness. Consumers take this balance into account in their health and wellness habits and purchases, including foods and beverages.

For the majority of consumers, the very definition of health and wellness is having the energy to live an active life, and yet, whether young or old, having too little energy is a key trigger for a change in health and wellness views. As the following table illustrates, our Health and Wellness 2015 report finds that while 6 in 10 consumers say “having enough energy for an active lifestyle” is important to meeting their wellness aspirations and goals, almost a third of consumers view their energy levels as urgently needing improvement.

What health and wellness means

Today’s consumers view health and wellness holistically and as a complicated balancing act made of many interrelated parts. This balancing act is seen today as more than just calories in and calories out. The following chart depicts that whether aspirational or achieved, balance is key to feeling well for consumers in all segments.

Energy Management Through Food & Beverage

Many consumers think of energy levels as a daily cycle, recognizing that energy levels naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. They manage their energy levels through individual combinations of ritual, eating with digestion and nutrition in mind, followed by periods of activity and relaxation. This conception of energy and energy management is founded upon the idea of a mind-body connection.

Consumers often see healthy foods as energizing and less healthy foods as energy depleting. Simple carbs, fatty or sugary foods and heavy meals are all seen to zap energy, making you feel tired and lethargic. There are a few sneaky foods that consumers see as causing an energy spike with a crash later – soda and sugary foods are the main culprits. These are good in a pinch for a quick energy fix – but you’ll pay for it later!

All consumers use food and drink to manage energy levels, but health and wellness orientation affects their choices. For those actively managing energy-related conditions like anxiety and stress, fatigue and depression, food is the second or third most common preventative measure, typically behind exercise.

For most consumers, however, lasting nutrition – such as complex carbs, lean protein and plenty of fruits and vegetables – is seen as key to keeping energy levels up throughout the day, along with the occasional caffeine jolt. Most consumers see an implicit connection between digestion and energy – heavy meals make you feel sluggish and lethargic, while light, healthy meals make you feel energetic.

Further information about the report: Health & Wellness 2015


Food & Beverage Occasions Health & Wellness Trends


As leaders in the study of American food culture, The Hartman Group has been tracking how Americans shop for food since the 1990s. From one-stop shopping to multichannel shopping to online markets and click-and-collect, we continue to track consumers’ evolving perceptions, needs, habits and relationships with food retailers. New to the 2017 report is a special section on the expansion of the discount grocery channel, the emerging fresh-format channel and smaller-footprint retail formats.


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