A Shift in Digestive Health NPD

25 Oct 2016

The European landscape for marketing digestive health products has shifted dramatically and this can be seen in new product activity within this space. Softer claims are being used which link a “happy tummy” with overall well-being through visuals or text clues to this overarching message.

In Europe, the challenging health claims environment has led to a shift in the language used for digestive health NPD. The word “probiotics” is no longer allowed to be used in the EU, leading to an industry move away from the use of “probiotics” claims, to the use of indirect health benefit claims such as “with live cultures” or “with billions of lactobacillus cultures.” You could say that the language around digestive health is effectively changing from “probiotic” to “happy tummy.” Implicit messaging around the benefits of the product, with for example, a recent Danone Activia campaign focusing on “feeling good starts from the inside.” Some major European dairy industry players have further moved towards positioning fiber from oats, seeds or other cereals as sources for digestive health. For example, in Spain, Danone Activia Yogurt with Cereals and Forest Fruits features the following claims: “contains bifidus actiregularis,” “contains fiber” and “enjoy while you make your stomach smile,” after being forced away from making a more direct “probiotic” claim.

A Shift in Digestive Health NPD

There is an overall shift towards fiber, with consumers around the world looking to increase their fiber consumption, which is generally seen to be way below recommended requirements. According to a 2014 multi-market consumer study, China (34%), the US (30%), Brazil (29%) and Australia (26%), were among the key markets where consumers have tried to increase their fiber intake over the last 2 years. Within Europe, more consumers in Spain (34%) are said to have increased their fiber intake than in Germany (16%). Apart from probiotic cultures and fiber other foods have recently picked up digestive health as marketing theme. The recent resurgence in fermented foods is also leading to opportunity within the digestive health space. Age old foods, including sourdough, are featuring better digestibility benefits, with a +20% CAGR rise reported in “fermented” claims on global sourdough launches (2011-2015). The fermented drink kombucha is also worth watching in both hot and cold tea drinks, with Theonista Kombucha from South Africa, for example, featuring the claim “…positive effects on energy, digestion, metabolism and immunity.” The market opportunity for digestive health products remains strong, within both foods and supplements. Clever implicit marketing campaigns around live cultures and the adoption of fiber in both new applications, or through the resurgence of age-old processes, will be among the means to triumph within this dynamic environment.

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