People crowd in virus protective masks

If, as Shakespeare wrote, “what’s past is prologue,” then what behaviors and attitudes will we see play out in 2021 as a result of consumers having to cope with COVID-19 for a full year?

First, lessons from the past.

Prior to the outbreak of the worst pandemic in a century, The Hartman Group’s health and wellness research in 2019 highlighted rising anxiety as a primary health issue facing consumers. Confronted with the pandemic fear of contagion and faced with increased stress of daily life, we would all agree that the issue of anxiety continues to be prominent. Routine activities such as work, shopping, dining out, and childcare have all been disrupted and have contributed to a national mood that feels generally anxious and uncertain.

The fielding of the study behind our Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements report coincided with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. As the year wore on, we saw the disruptive impacts on household routines from the resulting anxiety along with stay-at-home orders and the pandemic’s role as a catalyst for engagement with health and wellness, although it is distinct from other health challenges consumers continually navigate.

Throughout the year, there has been a heightened sentiment in many of feeling anxious and overwhelmed — by information and messages, by lifestyle ruts that can feel inescapable, by daily work-life balance, by polarizing politics, and by big issues like social justice and climate change.

As our previous health and wellness research brought to light, being proactive in the face of these pressures can be difficult.

All of which brings us to today, where many consumers seek empowerment in order to take control of both their own and their family’s health through behaviors that build immunity and resilience.

The Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements report finds close to a third of consumers say they’re consuming more supplements, functional foods or functional beverages. This can take the form of adopting entirely new solutions or rededicating oneself to regular use of familiar ones. These efforts to address mental and physical health reflect holistic notions of health and wellness and consumer desire for empowerment and resilience.

What other ways has COVID-19 changed consumers’ daily routines? Among consumers aware of COVID-19, they’re doing more:

  • Sleeping (39%)
  • Exercising (37%)
  • Meditating/praying (33%)
  • Taking supplements (31%)
  • Consuming functional foods/beverages (29%)
  • Talking to healthcare professionals (20%)

Health + Wellness 2021

According to our Functional Food & Beverage and Supplements report, how consumers envision the future reflects their ideals; changes that solve for time and resource pressures are more likely to stick.

The following chart shows what changes consumers anticipate making after the threat of COVID-19 has passed.

HW changes after COVID chart 2_2

To gain a deeper understanding of the evolving attitudes, behaviors and the pandemic’s impact on ongoing trends, The Hartman Group is currently fielding its Health + Wellness 2021 syndicated study.

The study is ideally timed to take stock of where 12 months of a national pandemic have left the U.S. consumer in terms of evolving lifestyles and attitudes around health and well-being. From ability to source healthy foods and opportunity for exercise to new considerations and priorities for staying healthy, consumers have had to adjust how they operate in a novel environment and determine their individual answers to newly raised health and wellness questions:

  • Exercise is healthy, but is it safe?
  • Social interactions are important to my mental health, but will they make me sick?
  • I should eat fresh foods, but how do I buy them safely?
  • Should I elevate the priority I place on immunity-boosting foods and beverages within my diet?

Learn more and preorder your copy of the report: THG Health + Wellness 2021