Health and wellness: according to millennials

by Keith Nunes
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Healthy millennials
Millennials prefer to get nutrients from foods, research says.

LAS VEGAS — Consumers who fit within the emerging millennial demographic are interested in health and wellness, but not in the same ways as baby boomers and Gen Xers, said two speakers on Oct. 6 at the SupplySide West conference taking place this week in Las Vegas. The bad news is supplement manufacturers may suffer, but there is good news for the makers of functional foods.

“They are not pill takers,” said Jeff Hilton, co-founder and chief marketing officer for BrandHive, Salt Lake City, Utah. “They prefer to get their nutrients from foods.”

Jeff Hilton
Jeff Hilton

Hilton added that millennials have very unique attitudes about health and wellness.

“They are delaying prevention tactics,” he said. “They will use products as they need them. Preventive supplementation is not a priority. They are looking for products that facilitate their current lifestyle.”

In a separate session, Maryellen Molyneaux, president and managing partner of the Natural Marketing Institute, Harleysville, Pa., echoed some of Hilton’s points.

“Millennials use supplements when they need them,” she said. “They prefer to manage their health through nutrition.”

She added that members of the demographic have been driving the use of functional foods.

“In 2006, 66 percent said they had used a functional food,” Molyneaux said. “In 2014 it was 76 percent. That’s a big jump.”

Maryellen Molyneaux
Maryellen Molyneaux

Top-of-mind health concerns among the demographic include fatigue, brain health, weight loss and heart health, said Molyneaux. She said she considered heart health to be a “big opportunity” to focus on when marketing to millennials.

Hilton said he is fascinated by how consumers between the ages of 18-33 are open to mixing and matching their approaches to health and wellness.

“They prefer to customize their own approach,” he said. “They will choose an exercise program, maybe focus on eating organic, consider some supplements, but they prefer fortified, functional foods.”

During the question-and-answer session, an audience member noted it is not surprising millennial consumers, particularly those who are at the younger end of the demographic, may be putting off a focus on prevention. Hilton agreed, but said he sees an extra level of intensity in the demographic.

“They bring an additional intensity and focus to living their life as much as possible,” he said. “They are trying to maximize what they are doing at any given moment.”

He added that they also may view the topic of prevention differently. Whereas other generations may have viewed prevention as taking specific supplements, Hilton said millennials may feel their focus on exercise and diet is enough.

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