In 2018, you will see the nutrition and wellness market, such as quick-service concepts and franchising, continue to evolve and influence other markets rather than make any sudden changes. Menus and other offerings will continue to get more nutritious and transparent to provide consumers with greater choice selection.
This does not feel like a trend, but rather a shift – and we are at the beginning of it. This shift – a focus on nutrition and wellness – is coming from the younger generations that have a lot of years left to carry it through the rest of their lives and beyond. They will instill their approach to nutrition and wellness in their children, too.
The shift is being driven by Millennial consumers (between the ages of 21 and 34) and the demographic following them, Generation Z (under 20). And, according to a Nielsen Global Survey, those generations are willing to pay more for better-for-you foods. Generation X (35- to 49-year olds) and Baby Boomers (50- to 64-year olds) are not far behind in thinking that health attributes are important – they are just less willing to pay a premium for them.
But, as the commodity of time increases in value for everyone – because we seem to have less of it – convenience is also shaping the nutrition and wellness market, just as it is in other markets. Therefore, consumers are demanding their time be spent on experiences, not merely purchases.
Consumers are looking for quick and nutritious options wherever they eat or purchase food. It is apparent on QSR menus and concepts. But, today, healthy does not just pertain to the amount of calories, fat and cholesterol in menu items; it also relates to the purity of ingredients and where they come from. QSRs are being more transparent about their ingredients. Panera and Chipotle have led the charge on that front. But, there are other restaurant concepts popping up – Freshii and Lyfe Kitchen, for example – that are taking a better-ingredients angle with their offerings.
Supermarkets are even getting into the act, offering nutritious prepared meals made with quality ingredients while the shopper picks out items from the aisles.
This shift in nutrition and wellness is a boon for the franchise industry. It opens up space for existing and new restaurant concepts focused on better-for-you options in the traditional fast food market. Because these appeal to Millennials and Generation Z, there is a built in audience just waiting for it. The focus on nutrition and wellness is also providing an opportunity for traditional concepts to lean in and embrace the shift, creating another potential avenue for sales and growth.
How Established Brands Will Adapt
Established restaurant brands of all kinds need to listen to their customers. At Smoothie King, we are paying close attention to what our guests are saying about their wants and needs.
We were founded on the development of a delicious product made with better-for-you ingredients to feel good about what you put in your body. We are going to continue down that path.
Our guests wanted cleaner and more transparent smoothie blends, which spurred our current Cleaner Blending initiative. For example, we are eliminating all artificial flavors, artificial colors and artificial preservatives, along with added hormones and GMO fruits and vegetables. We are also removing added sugar from our Purpose Blends, which includes more than 50 smoothies. Already out of our smoothies is gluten, trans fat, hydrogenated oils, ingredients prohibited by any regulatory lists monitored by NSF and high fructose corn syrup. This stems from listening to what is important to our guests today as we continue to deliver our custom-made smoothies that they feel good about.
At the same time, we are focused on convenience. Our guests want their nutritious snack or meal replacement quickly because they’re on the go. That’s why so many of our locations are drive-thrus.
We can expect to see more segments in the nutrition and wellness market overlap with different concepts or pairing up to deliver the greatest impact with the most convenience. The key is to intercept the guest and be available and convenient for them based on where they are. Trying to grab people out of their current patterns is difficult, so nutrition and wellness and food are all starting to come together in a lot of different ways. You see it with gyms partnering with health insurance companies for preventive medicine or smoothie bars and juice bars showing up in fitness centers. It goes back to the driving need for better-for-you options provided conveniently for a great experience.