Sleep and mental sharpness drivers for shoppers

A Pearl report also reveals which frozen foods resonate with health-conscious consumers as they look to eat and age well.

sleep country
Consumers are investing more in healthy sleeping habits and staying mentally sharp. As a result, some are seeking healthy shortcuts for meal prep. These are among the key insights contained in Pearl Strategy & Innovation Design’s 2019 Health & Wellness Canada study.

Pearl asked 1,100 respondents (millennials, Gen X, boomers), in both official languages, about their attitudes towards health and wellness and how their shopping behaviours were influenced by these factors.

When it comes to health and wellness goals, these have remained relatively stable over time, according to Susan Weaver, Pearl’s managing director. The top three goals included aging well (89%), eating healthy (also 89%) and staying mentally sharp (88%). Weaver says her team was most surprised by this new-found interest in “staying mentally sharp,” which ranked slightly higher than even exercise (87%) as a health priority for Canadians, as well as in the growing prominence placed on sleeping well (86%).

Eating healthy

Part of staying healthy is eating right.

When asked which packaged foods they shop with health in mind, the following brands came out on top: Harvest Crunch, Quaker Oats, Kellogg’s All Bran, Mini Wheats, Kraft peanut butter, as well as President’s Choice canned lentils, beans and vegetables. These products were the top mentioned packaged foods for reasons that ranged from fibre content, to helping them feel full, to managing cholesterol, and being a good source of protein.


Nearly 9 in 10 of consumers cook from scratch, according to the study, but there is still an opportunity to market healthy frozen and prepared ingredients, both of which over-index among women.

According to the study, just under four in 10 frozen foods are purchased for health reasons. Atlantic Canada is least likely to purchase frozen products in general, while Quebec is most likely to purchase frozen meat and individual entrees, according to the report.

In the space, not surprisingly, veggies and fruit are top choices when it comes to healthy frozen food options; however, frozen seafood (77%) sits in third-place for its health considerations among those who bought the item in the last six months.

Green Giant Frozen Vegetables, President’s Choice Frozen Fruit, and No Name Frozen Vegetables were cited by respondents as top healthier food choices in the frozen category.

The top three refrigerated foods bought for health reasons include eggs (87%), yogurt (85%) and cheese (63%), however, the study results reveal a generational disconnect: millennials are 7% less likely to buy eggs and cheese. Activia Yogurt, Oikos Greek Yogurt, and Liberté Greek Yogurt were named the top refrigerated bands bought for health reasons (Oikos was cited as being low in calories, while Activa was lauded for its calcium content).

Foods like nuts, pulses and seasonings were also found to be sought-after snacks for health-conscious consumers.

“Spices are a huge opportunity,” Weaver says, adding that according to the group’s research, “Turmeric [for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant health benefits] is the number one spice that keeps coming up in our surveys when you want to make a product appear to be ‘healthier.’”

She says that when it comes to pulses, brands should emphasize the protein content, as weight maintenance is an increasingly important part of healthy lifestyles (a new 2019 survey entry, “weight maintenance” was cited by 80% of respondents as a health and wellness goal).

Sleeping well

When it comes to the importance of sleep, Weaver says there was a jump in results between 2018 and 2019, with 86% of respondents versus 74% citing healthy sleep as an extremely important goal. Millennials, particularly, cite “monitoring sleep habits” as a top health action they can take, coming in just behind “visiting a medical professional” in importance.

“There’s a reason why mattress brands are doing well – people are investing in their sleep,” says Weaver. And it’s not just about a high-quality mattress, she says, there are opportunities for brands promoting paraphernalia around healthy sleep, like cooling bamboo sheets or pillow cases. In fact, in the Pearl Health & Wellness Canada study, mattress/bedding came in third behind food and health insurance, as the three top products/services in the health space.

Staying sharp

Staying sharp came in a hair behind eating well (89%) and aging well (89%) at 88%. Weaver says millennials are putting mental health and well-being at the forefront of their lives. They’re putting greater emphasis on Avoiding/Reducing Stress (91%), Improving Mental Health (90%), and Improving Confidence (83%) than any other generation when it comes to health priorities.

CBD is also increasingly being used by millennials as an anxiolytic. According to the survey results, nearly half of millennials (44%) cite CBD and cannabis use as a recommended action for managing health and wellness, which – while not as high as researching the right health information (68%)  is still an important factor cited for leading a healthy lifestyle. (Millennials are also 8% less likely than other groups to purchase OTC analgesics, Weaver adds, something marketers of pain reliever brands like Tylenol and Advil should take note of.)