New report shows gaps in sports nutrition

From the gym bros to the dog walkers: innovating in a difficult macro- economic environment means producers need to know the gaps per consumer segment and get it right the first time.

The HMT — Healthy Marketing Team, an international agency for innovation, marketing and branding in food and health, has released a new report, conducted in collaboration with the University of Maastricht, looking at the innovation opportunities in sports nutrition.

According to Future Market Insights, the global sports nutrition market has a forecasted CAGR of 9.3% from 2021 to 2031. It is evident that there are opportunities in the field but not every trend is right for every brand. With 80% of new product launches failing within 12 months, especially in times of recession, it is crucial to know the space which a brand occupies in the mind of the consumer and which innovation will be accepted when coming from it. The new research therefore examines trends and innovation opportunities per consumer segment.

The main findings are a such:

  • There are two trends identified for the professional athletes or similar, which in the report are called “Technology stakeholders”: mental health/ focus and discipline-specific nutrition, and endurance activities and e-sports.
  • For the lifestyle stakeholders, fitness influencers or “gym bros”, the innovation spaces lie within stress reduction, inner balance, recovery, and sleep as well as plant- based options.
  • In the early mass-market are recreational sports people, ie those who aspire to follow an active lifestyle. The trend here is taking a holistic approach with multi-purpose products but also offering grab-and-go/convenient formats.
  • Finally, the report stresses that there are also opportunities to be had in the late mass market as long as brands make a conscious decision to address that space. There are consumers referred to in the report as “daily strollers”. For this group, infrequent low intensity activity is the goal without a performance objective. The trend here is indulgence with the sensory aspects as one of the main drivers for customers purchasing decisions. The other trends are simple functional claims such as high protein, vitamins, antioxidants, and low sugar.
  • Personalised nutrition and probiotics are two additional trends which are identified as transcending segments. According to the research both of these trends can be found across all consumer segments but what varies are the execution and the storytelling per each target audience.

The report is further looking at leading ingredients per segment and trend. For the lifestyle stakeholders and the stress reduction trend, ashwagandha and CBD are two of the upcoming ingredients in new product formulations. On the other hand, for the late mass market consumer, new generation stevia or added nutrients can go a long way in innovation.

Peter Wennström, founder of The HMT, said: “The purpose of our analysis is to highlight the gaps in innovation in sports nutrition. With a recession looming, many brands will have a hard time so it is more important than ever to understand the space you occupy in the mind of the consumer and what innovations are expected from your brand. So yes, to innovation, especially in times of crisis, and yes to better targeted innovations.”