The Next Generation of Sports Nutrition—It’s for Anyone…Really
When you hear the words “sports nutrition,” do you think of costly supplements and special shakes only found down a highly stylized (meaning black labels with muscled folks on them) aisle at the local supplement store? Until a few years ago, this was the obvious mental picture to have—enter the next generation of sports nutrition—something for everyone. And while there is still a dedicated market for core users (body builders) of sports nutrition products1, the market has expanded to include mainstream users, which includes a new target group, women.2
Presently, bodybuilders and extreme athletes only account for a small percentage of total sports nutrition category sales—but seem to account for most of the high-profile ad campaigns. The lion’s share of growth in sports nutrition, though, is in nutrition bars. According to a recent report, at least one in four people use nutrition bars, and it went on to add that it is women who are more likely to eat nutrition bars.3 Growth in this category has outpaced other sports nutrition products over the last few years and that trend is not expected to change.
While women are certainly helping to propel the sports nutrition market to places it has never been, there are other new segments that are driving substantial growth. Fresh on the scene consumer groups have emerged over the last decade, helping to redefine the face of this category. In addition to traditional “bodybuilders” and “weekend warriors,” groups such as “Lifestyle Users” (those who invest in an active lifestyle or crowd cultures such as yoga or walking) and Consumer Users (those who are heavily influenced by social media/trends and want a personalized experience) have been consistently pushing growth for the sports nutrition market overall.4
So, what is the new face of the sports nutrition market? Well, its anyone, really. But on average, its women and young adults who are reshaping the market and helping to create measurable growth. These groups are looking for the right products, right now, and it’s easier than ever to offer them exactly what they want. By providing features that allow emerging consumer groups to stay true to their core belief system (think label transparency and clean ingredients), marketers not only offer exceptional sports nutrition products, but they easily compliment these groups lifestyles. It’s the selfie generation, and users aren’t going to pose for a quick pic with anything they can’t have full confidence in.
It’s a new world out there, and manufacturers and marketers must explore that world with fresh ideas and a creative approach. Gone are the days when highly stylized labeling could do all the work for you—today’s brand recognition must be earned by garnering the respect of these highly unique consumer groups. And while that highly stylized aisle might still exist in your local supplement store, it’s probably smaller and right next to products targeting daily walkers, yoga enthusiasts and Zumba fans.
1., 5. Passport, Sports Nutrition: Drivers and Prospects, July 2017