Immunity boosting is driving health trends

Research from Social Nature also finds transparency is important to Canadians, but brands should avoid the clinical approach.


A desire to boost immunity and being more proactive about health are driving health conscious purchasing behaviour.

That’s according to new research from Social Nature, a product discovery and consumer insights platform focused on healthy and sustainable products. It surveyed 3,200 North American consumers, including 1,514 in Canada, to get to its insights.

The survey revealed that 82% of Americans and 79% of Canadians are taking more proactive action towards health management than they were a year ago. This means they are increasingly looking to brands that can help them with things like healthy eating, reducing stress, improving sleep and emotional health.

But the biggest area where they are looking for help is improving immunity, up 25% year-over year, the fastest-growing concern in the survey. This is, not surprisingly, reflected in heightened demand for supplements.

“We are seeing 44% of [Canadians] indicate that they are taking supplements and 36% plan to take more immunity boosting supplements in anticipation of a second [pandemic] wave,” according to Social Nature’s VP of insights, Jessica Malach.

The findings also reveal that Americans want to understand the additional safety measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID. While this is among the top five concerns of Canadians, consumers north of the border are most interested in transparency in labelling and ingredient sourcing. This may be due to the fact that Canada is in a different stage of the pandemic, Malach says.

One in three Canadians are spending more time reading labels, and are particularly interested in reducing their salt and sugar intake.

Malach tells strategy that since Canadians are being pro-active with our health, it’s important for CPG brands to align their products with people’s newfound health goals. She recommends shifting away from “telling” about feature benefits, and towards more holistic and lifestyle marketing. She adds that transparency should still be top of mind, but brands should understand that people want to understand the story behind products, and don’t have to take technical or clinical approach to be upfront about what is in their products or what they do.

Another key finding is that North Americans are still seeking novelty across product categories: 73% of Americans and 70% of Canadians purchased a new product in a food, beverage, personal care or household category in the last month. However, new product trial seems to be more about simply wanting to try something new (according to 32% of respondents) than it is supporting new health goals or lifestyle changes (18%).

Driving in-store discovery through digital is key to tap into this phenomenon, Malach says. Online search for products, especially new ones, is continuing to grow, so it’s important to invest in a strong web presence, and in better search and attribution tagging, as there are a lot of diet and health product nuances, Malach says.

“Real-time data and immediate feedback is more valuable than ever as we navigate this new normal,” she says.

According to Malach, the opportunity for DTC commerce is huge: its insights reveal 25% of Canadians are willing to buy directly from manufacturers, depending on the category. And word-of-mouth continues to be as important as ever: one in five consumers have bought a product because someone in their peer network shared it with them.