Immunity Opportunity: Where to Focus Post-Pandemic

Nov 22

Mike Hughes, Head of Research, FMCG Gurus, joined FrieslandCampina Ingredients at the 2nd Edition of the event Nutritional Health Solutions for An Evolving World to help translate detailed consumer insights about immune health into opportunities for brand owners.

If you weren’t able to watch the session, here are 10 key takeaways:

1. COVID-19 Accelerated Concern About Immune Health

COVID-19 has accelerated concern about health as consumers question their long-term vulnerability to disease and illness.

65% of global consumers said that they have become more conscious about their immune health as a result of COVID-19, up from 57% in April 2020.

2. Concern About Immune Health Isn’t New

However, even before the pandemic consumers were not satisfied with their immune health.
Immune health satisfaction is declining

3. Focus On Long-Term Health Problems

At the initial onset of COVID-19, consumers were worried about their vulnerability to the virus. Now consumers are questioning their diet and lifestyles in general and asking how vulnerable this makes them to other long-term health problems.

As a result, 75% of consumers are saying they will make a greater attempt to stay healthier in the future.

4. Modern Lifestyles Will Cause Issues Into the Future

But, modern-day lifestyles will continue to be an issue, even after the pandemic has passed:

  • 45% of consumers do not have enough time for exercise
  • 44% have experienced health problems that have impacted their quality of life
  • 31% say they have put on weight in the last 12 months
  • 23% admit that their diet is unhealthy

5. Shift to Proactive Approach

Consumers recognise that these poor diet and lifestyle choices are increasing the risk of long-term health problems. Over the last 12 months, health goals have shifted away from being aspirational to becoming focused on disease maintenance and minimising the risk of vulnerability to illness.

As a result of this, consumers will take a more proactive approach than ever before when trying to boost their health. To try and improve their immune health, 76% of consumers made changes to their diet, 60% began to exercise more and 53% looked to improve their mental well-being.

6. Consumers Are Turning to Functional Foods for a Boost

Consumers are seeking out functional food and drink that offer a health boost beyond just nutrition. In April 2020, 31% of consumers said they sought out fortified/functional food and drink more frequently in the last month, but this jumped to 44% in February 2021.

Consumers will turn to products they know and trust, as well as look to seek out new and innovative ingredients that offer maximum efficacy. In fact, 56% of global consumers say that they actively seek out new and innovative ingredients that really work.

7. Consumers Recognise That All Aspects of Health Are Connected

Consumers are adopting the notion of holistic health, recognising that all aspects of health are interlinked and impact each other, and that prevention is more important over cure.

Consumers looking to improve their immune health over the last twelve months were also looking to improve their brain and digestive health.

This is a reflection of how these problems are becoming more prevalent throughout society and consumers recognising the long-term health consequences associated with poor brain and digestive health.

8. For Supplement Brands, the Time is Now

There is a real opportunity for brands to capitalise on the growing popularity of nutritional supplements. 15% of global consumers have turned to nutritional supplements more frequently than normal due to COVID-19 in order to boost their immune health. So, how can companies take advantage of this opportunity?

  • Highlight safety and efficacy of products through promoting branded ingredients with scientific claims to build credibility
  • Ensure products are hassle-free from a cost, convenient and sensory perspective
  • Address idea of holistic health and how supporting immunity helps to address other health issues simultaneously

9. Trust and Scientific Evidence Over Claims Is Crucial

Consumers are more interested in supporting their health and wellness, but they are more skeptical of the health and wellness market.

Therefore, brands need to offer maximum transparency and credibility when making claims. As a result, ingredient-led claims will be more influential on purchasing habits than ever before.

10. Barriers to Healthy Living Need to Be Addressed

Several barriers that impact healthy living will need to be addressed by the industry:

  • Convenience: key when targeting those who need on-the-go products
  • Reassurance: brands need to educate consumers about healthy living and reassure consumers their product is the right choice
  • Nutritional labelling: needs to be transparent and easy to understand
  • Sensory appeal: consumers are not willing to compromise on taste in favour of nutrition, so addressing the taste perception conundrum is crucial
  • Attitude-Behaviour Gap: it is necessary for brands to recognise and address the attitude-behaviour gap to healthy living that exists

Download the PDF of this article here.



All data presented in this document was collected by FMCG Gurus from 2019 – 2021 and presented at the FrieslandCampina Ingredients digital event, Nutritional Health Solutions for an Evolving World by Mike Hughes, Head of Research, FMCG Gurus.

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