COVID-19 has caused a relatively large and abrupt shift in the way millennials think about their health. This new way of thinking influences their beverage, food, and supplement choices, and understanding this will allow grocers to deepen their relationship with the 72 million Millennials born between 1981 and 1996.
Millennials outgrew baby boomers in 2019.
Recent studies show that today’s age millennials prioritize health and wellness over any other generation, and millennials’ importance for a healthy lifestyle has increased dramatically over the past decade. In addition, during the pandemic, their concerns about health and disease prevention increased.
Unsurprisingly, millennials are driving the three biggest trends in health and wellness. Immune-boosting foods and supplements, flexitarian diets and plant-based products, and solutions to improve sleep and mental health. Let’s take a closer look at how millennials and these trends interrelate.
Immunity-Boosting Foods and Supplements
Boosting immunity has become a huge passion for millennials since COVID-19, influencing their choice of vitamins, supplements, food, and beverages. This is a cross-merchandising opportunity that grocers can take advantage of better than any other retailer.
Millennials and Gen Xers, collectively between the ages of 26 and 45, have the most pronounced immune health concerns since the pandemic.
More than half (52%) of millennials who responded to the NMI survey say they have been more interested in immune-boosting foods since the COVID-19 outbreak.
Millennials, the generation that is most likely to use the web and social media for health information, consume many immune-boosting food items such as beets, apple cider vinegar, citrus fruits, fermented vegetables, garlic, ginger, green leafy vegetables, manuka honey, mushrooms, and probiotics.
Food and beverage companies have embraced the immunity-boosting trend. According to the Wall Street Journal, 383 food and beverage products with immune health claims were launched in the first half of 2021.
Plant-Based Diets Meet Health and Sustainability Needs
Millennials consider a vegetarian, vegan, or plant-based diet to be good for their health but choose these diets due to the drastic environmental impact of meat consumption.
According to a study, more than one in five millennials (22%) have adopted a vegetarian diet at some point in their life, and 16% have tried a vegan diet. But a much higher percentage, 45%, are adopting a flexitarian lifestyle, which means reducing meat consumption, but not completely. A slightly smaller percentage of millennials, 18%, are considering a dairy-free diet.
The majority of millennials feel that all of their nutritional needs could be met with a plant-based diet. But only 30% of consumers in the Boomer generation and older felt the same way.
Millennials say, ‘It’s OK to Not Be OK.
During the delayed 2021 Olympics due to the pandemic, number one gymnast Simone Biles, who qualified for the full-team competition, says she needs to focus on her wellness and mental health, symbolizing the young generation embracing and openly talking about mental health issues.
Michael Phelps, a millennial, spread the motto “It’s okay to not be okay” while speaking candidly about battling depression.
Healthscope’s 2020 Healthcare Trends Executive Report identifies openness in mental health as one of the top trends in millennials’ healthcare interactions. “Millennials have overcome the stigma associated with seeking help from healthcare professionals for mental health more than previous generations,” the report says. “Not only are they likely to identify behavioral health issues, but they may also seek treatment.”
Millennials understand that improving sleep quality leads to better mental health. Therefore, the tendency to eat certain foods and take supplements to improve sleep is closely tied to the mental health efforts of millennials.
In the midst of the pandemic, a CRN study found melatonin, magnesium, and CBD to be one of the most popular supplements for mental health and sleep health, regardless of the age of the consumer.
According to SPINS, among the lesser-known ingredients for brain health, three categories of nootropics are experiencing double-digit growth in usage by manufacturers. The consumption of Bacopa Monnieri, a brain function-improving herb used by Ayurvedic practitioners, increased by 148%. The use of phosphatidylserine, an amino acid derivative believed to aid memory, mental alertness, and cognitive function, increased by 109%. The use of DMAE, which is believed to support the production of neurotransmitters, increased by 104%.