Even more than wealth, good health is at the top of consumers’ to-do lists for 2013, a new survey shows. So jumping aboard the health wagon while it’s still picking up speed may be a savvy move for marketers and retailers in the coming year, experts say.
The top five consumer health trends for 2013 will be food-waste consciousness, wellness in the workplace, mini-meals and snacking, mainstreamveganism and gluten-free diets, according to a national survey of 2,800 adults conducted by the Values Institute at DGWB, a social science research group.
Consumers are increasingly adopting the ethos of “waste not, want not,” especially in the kitchen, the survey found. Almost four in 10 Americans (39 percent) feel guilty about trashing food, more so than any other “green” sin. Since some waste is unavoidable, though, communities and corporations alike are looking for ways to convert compostable scraps into disposable cash. Marin County, Calif., has begun processing wasted food from local groceries and restaurants to generate electricity, and Starbucks has found a way to recycle coffee grounds and baked goods into laundry detergent.
Employers are realizing that working health into the corporate agenda benefits waistlines and bottom lines. With health care costs expected to rise 7 percent, companies are improving employees’ health and minimizing health care expenditures by adding wellness programs. The survey predicts that we will see more discounted gym memberships, group Weight Watchers accountability plans, and active-design workspaces this year.
The trend toward mini-meals and snacking is expected to accelerate this year, as research has shown that those who eat between meals tend to have healthier diets. Already, snacks make up one of every five eating occasions in the U.S., the survey found. Especially prevalent is the advent of multiple mini-meals in place of the standard three squares a day. Salads, probiotic nuts and the ubiquitous cup of yogurt with fruit are slowly replacing breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Last year’s rise of the flexitarians is foreshadowing a trend toward meatless eating and outright veganism, vegetarianism’s older brother, the survey found. Consumers seeking exotic natural ingredients like jackfruit and quinoa have helped turn the tide, especially as increasingly popular Asian and Indian flavor profiles that turn their backs on animal products. The survey foresees the migration of herbivore-accommodating menus to mid-America from restaurants on both coasts next year.