Appealing to the New Protein Consumer
Who comes to mind when you picture a protein powder consumer? If we were to ask you this question in the early 1990s, it’s likely that you’d picture a bodybuilder. Probably male, and probably someone who spends most of his week at the gym. But that’s likely not who comes to mind today.
By the dawn of the millennium, far more shoppers were consuming protein products. Professional athletes took the cue from bodybuilders that muscle damage from intense training can be repaired by protein. Soon after, amateur and college athletes took the plunge and, in recent years, healthy living trends caused most people to take an active interest in working out — and getting the most of their workout with protein.
Breaking it down, there are a few consumers who play a major role in today’s protein market. One is the weight-loss consumer. In fact, more than a quarter of consumers who purchase protein products are on a weight loss journey. Plus, many consumers who are upping their protein intake are doing so because they want to satisfy their appetite (43 percent) or snack less (31 percent).
Another important consumer base driving the protein surge is the young and affluent shopper, who invests in fitness as part of a healthy lifestyle. What they care about most are health and wellness claims (like organic, natural, and non-GMO). They look for protein because it carries a health halo, and only want products that are of good quality.
This expanding consumer base has transformed the protein market well beyond powders. Today, brands innovate with bars, yogurt, cereal, and even snacks like potato chips boosted with added protein. And this innovation has been richly rewarded: Nielsen says that sales of food items with protein claims increased by about 5 percent in the 52 weeks ending July 2, 2016 (amounting to a rise of $19.6 billion in dollar sales).
But offering a food enriched with protein isn’t always enough to capture the purchase of mainstream consumers. And herein lies the challenge (or opportunity!): according to the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI), the majority of sports health consumers base their purchase on product quality (64 percent). Half of them will even choose quality over price. What does “quality” mean? NMI says sports nutrition enthusiasts’ top considerations are safety, clinical support, natural ingredients and, yes, digestibility. So how do you deliver this?
Proteolytic systems for protein products hold the key to offering sports nutrition consumers the quality they want — whether they’re training for a marathon or trying to drop that last five pounds for better health. Enzymes help expedite digestion, promote the optimal release of amino acids, and hydrolyze the proteins commonly used in protein products. In fact, in vitro research shows that adding 50 mg of BioCore AminoTap® PS to a whey protein isolate boosts BCAAs and glutamine release by 144 percent; adding 250 mg of the blend bumps that percentage to 260 percent in simulated gastrointestinal fluids.
The best news of all? BioCore AminoTap® PS can be encapsulated/tableted or added to any protein-enriched product, which means it can appeal to any consumer in this ever-widening base.
 “Protein Fever,” Mintel