Which Health Trends are Making the Biggest Splash among Consumers?

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Over the past few years, the wellness industry has made significant inroads among American consumers. Today, wellness represents a $4.2 trillion industry[1] that appeals to a broad base – a significant upgrade from the celebrity wellness gurus of the 1980s.

Almost weekly, there seems to be a new trend hitting the market. With so many new ideas out there, we thought it would be a good idea to take a step back and see what consumers are saying about recent trends to shed some light on where they might be headed.

CBD Oil

Weed’s come a long way over the past few years; well, CBD oil, that is. Patients swear by it, doctors are green-lighting it, and investors are betting millions on it. So, what exactly is all the hype about?

We looked at 746,233 medical conversations online and found that, CBD oil discussions have grown by 583% since 2016.

Consumers are flocking toward CBDs as they prefer an all-natural, or “non-pharma” approach to treating pain, anxiety, and stress – which are the most common medical reasons for using CBDs. This is especially true for pain relief consumers, as 15% of pain relief conversations indicate that CBDs are used to reduce exposure to addictive medicines like opiates.

Beyond its medical applications, consumers are turning towards CBD oil for its general wellness properties (27% of the total conversation). Consumers are supplementing CBD oil with foods like chia seeds, coconut oil, and coffee to deliver intended wellness results. Look for major food brands to capitalize on this space as consumers continue to pair CBDs with healthy favorites and super foods. How are consumers using CBDs? Inhalants comprise the largest share of the CBD conversation (19%), but we don’t think that’s where the future of CBDs are headed. Since 2016, tacking, or applying CBD oil directly to your gums, and topical application mentions have grown by over 80%.

Riding the Keto & Low Carb Wave

Consumers are growing more aware of the foods they put into their bodies and are using specialized diets, such as keto or low carb, as a tool for health and wellness. According to the Harvard Medical School, the Keto diet is an effective short-term weight loss tool and can improve blood sugar control for patients with Type 2 diabetes.[2]

The idea of using a low-carb diet as a “tool” for weight loss or as a way to “control” health indicators also resonates among consumers. Upon analyzing over 2.5 million low carb conversations, nearly 30% of consumers mentioned weight loss while 15% discussed diabetes control. In short, consumers are using specialized foods and ingredients as a way to take control of various health and wellness concerns.

“Doctors can suck it. I’m staying on keto for the rest of my life. My endocrinologist team kept telling me this isn’t a sustainable lifestyle, I was going to regret it, I need carbs, etc – all in spite of the great progress I was making. I’ll be finding a [new] doctor… [Diet] is the answer to keeping myself healthy and my health in control.”

-Anonymous Reddit User

Beyond the low carb conversation, consumers are targeting health concerns with other dietary guidelines. Take plant-based diets, for example. We examined over 1.8 million plant-based diet conversations and found that over 50% of the conversation is composed of consumers discussing health goals, such as clean eating, energy, and GI health.

While you might expect a vegetarian or vegan to have an aversion to processed foods, the implication here is that there is a growing faction among consumers who view food as a functional health tool, rather than a tasty ingredient. As new dietary trends emerge, it will be important for brands to capitalize on a diet’s functional application for health and wellness, thinking of a consumer more like a patient rather than an amateur chef.

Functional foods are useful only if consuming them leads to meaningful health and wellness benefits. Consumer sentiment, and more importantly scientific research, tends to agree with trends like CBD oil or low-carb diets for targeting specific wellness goals. Every food and beverage brand should wonder if there’s a functional “way in” for their products – that is of course if they haven’t found one already.

[1] 2019 Wellness Trends, Global Wellness Summit
[2] 2018 Ketogenic Diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you?, Harvard Medical School