Innovation remains fundamental to growth, and protein remains the dominant area in which to focus product development says Nicholas Morgan, managing director of Sports Integrated. Hydrolysed protein, protein blends, plant proteins and protein in combination with “greens” are interesting additions to the market and reflects the spectrum of innovation that spans the “core” to the “mainstream” consumer.
It remains to be seen which protein related concepts are successful, of which there are a number contributing variables. However perhaps the most important insight over the next 12 months will be to better understand the extent to which “sports nutrition” can evolve into a mainstream market where consumers are no longer defined by performance related outcomes, but outcomes more aligned health and wellness.
The link between exercise and nutrition is inseparable, and the increase in participation rates related to sport and exercise continue to substantiate the logic in targeting exercise enthusiasts. The opportunity is obvious, but there are risks also. Alienating core consumers remains a concern, whilst the energy (money) needed to educate consumers and differentiate versus a wider competitor base should also be considered.
Needless to say there will be winners and losers. The winners will inevitably find a way to navigate the broader landscape with products that have a strong scientific rationale, yet are inherently food orientated, easy to communicate, and focused on how nutrition can enhance the benefits of exercise to promote health. I just wonder whether we’ll refer to those successful brands in 12 months’ time as “sports nutrition”.