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State of the Consumer: Wellness Watch & Nutrition Buzz
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State of the Consumer: Wellness Watch & Nutrition Buzz

Jessica Hogue, Research Director, Online Division

More consumers in the U.S. are online talking about fresh and unprocessed foods when it comes to healthy eating, and a vocal segment of health enthusiasts are setting trends on the next wave of hot ingredients and spices.

To better understand these emerging trends in nutrition, Nielsen has been analyzing online consumer conversations about food and health and wellness since 2003. Our analysis highlights discussion trends among mainstream consumers and also quantifies buzz among health enthusiasts, a passionate and informed consumer segment that Nielsen monitors across 400+ social networks, key blogs and forums. Listening to what health enthusiasts care about helps us to see what’s next.

As we look at what consumers buy and how they talk about products, we’re able to quantify the online buzz around products and ingredients, as well as product label claims like low fat or high fiber.

One key trend we’ve observed is that health enthusiasts are expanding their palate with fresh citrus fruits and flavors.

  • Kumquat buzz among health conscious consumers and search activity* in Q4 2010 were up significantly in part due to inclusion in recipes.
  • Satsuma – a seedless fruit of Japanese origin – is on the rise with health enthusiasts touting high levels of vitamin C and fiber. Beyond health, Satsuma oranges promise a “beauty from within” benefit and are used in skin care peels.

*Google Insights

Ingredients & Spices to Watch

Health Enthusiast Segment

Ones to Watch MindShare

vs. prev Q

Satsuma 459%
Purple potato 187%
Jerusalem artichoke 112%
Kumquat 92%
Ambrosia herbs 88%
Gruyere 84%
Celeriac 71%
Holy Basil/Tulsi 66%
Garam Masala 50%
Anise 46%
Source: The Nielsen Company

Mindshare indicator is calculated as the percentage growth of share of

total segment conversation in Q4 from prior period

Comparing Health Enthusiasts with the Mainstream

Key observations from online conversations:

  • Fresh and unprocessed foods generate the highest volume of all online claim conversation across the mainstream audience.
  • Presence of fiber is on the rise with mainstream consumers – up 14% in Q4.
  • Preservative-free offerings should be watched closely given increasing mainstream interest (+8%)
  • Carb presence and sugar-free offerings are leading topics in terms of total volume for both segments.
  • Gluten-free interest is on the rise among Health Enthusiasts
  • Mainstream consumers are conscious of sodium offerings likely as a result of recent news on sodium content and manufacturers introduced reduced-sodium offerings.
  • Low- and no-sodium offerings are on the rise among health enthusiasts.

Top 10 Nutritional Topics
General Population Health Enthusiasts
Label Rank

by Topic Volume

Label Rank

by Topic Volume

1  Fresh/Unprocessed 1  Fresh/Unprocessed
2  Fruit and Veg Presence 2  Calorie Presence
3  Vitamin Mineral Presence 3  Fruit and Veg Presence
4  Oil Presence 4  Low Carb / Carb Conscious
5  Calorie Presence 5  Vitamin Mineral Presence
6  Soy 6  Sugar Free
7  Salt or Sodium Presence 7  Low Fat / Reduced Fat
8  Low Carb / Carb Conscious 8  Oil Presence
9  Low Fat / Reduced Fat 9  Soy
10 Sugar Free 10 Gluten Free
Source: The Nielsen Company