Nutritional Myths’​ Role in Accelerating Trends

published by Marit Veenstra,Brand Strategist & Insight Consultant at HMT

 

Trend /trɛnd/ noun 

“a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving

– Cambridge Dictionary 2021

As the definition of trend indicates, it is related to the way people behave, and by people, we refer to consumers. You can say that trends play a huge role in shaping the industry, as they can be seen as ever-changing consumers needs and thus, keep you up and running as a business.

Trends accelerate, meaning that they evolve from being a niche to being known and appealing to a broader consumer group – the mass market. When trends reach the mass market, they take a slightly different approach due to different consumer needs. The speed with which trends accelerate depends on factors such as consumers’ interest and awareness of their health, the environment, new technologies and much more.

It has now been a few months since we have launched our annual Global GameChangers 2021 Report: Fast-Forward to the Mass Market!– connecting trends, consumers & brands. Usually, our Reports focus on new, upcoming trends appealing to lifestyle consumers, i.e., early adopters. However, this year’s Report takes quite a different angle, where we focus on the trends in the mass market instead. Why?

Let’s clarify this with the help of nutritional myths…

Myths: The Never-Ending True or False Story

Myth /mɪθ/ noun 

 “an ancient story or a commonly believed but false idea”

– Cambridge Dictionary 2021

According to Cambridge Dictionary, a myth can be defined as an ancient story or “a commonly believed but a false idea” – indicating that myths are not always backed up by proven facts, but nevertheless receiving attention and being popular among a big part of consumers.

Where trends come and go, myths always remain. You probably remember a few: “don’t eat gluten, they are bad!”, “Fat is bad for you”, & “All detox diets are very healthy”. These examples are the so-called modern myths that are best described as fast-changing trends that mainly originate from social media. Even though they are characterised as time-consuming and complicated to understand for the average consumer, modern myths usually have many followers. However, just a small number of consumers stick to this ‘hype’ due to its complexity and questioned health benefits, as they are not always backed up by proven facts.

But next to modern myths, there is another kind, known as traditional myths. A traditional myth usually exists for centuries (e.g. an ancient story) and is passed on from generation to generation. They mainly originate from your ancestors – the typical “Oh grandmother knows this!” – Your grandmother’s wise words telling you what to eat or drink when you are sick, based on what she learned from her ancestors. As traditional myths are passed on for generations, they usually come with stories linked to your childhood, bringing back those happy memories. That’s why it can give you this feeling of safety & warmth – you trust it.

Even though myths are constantly challenged as being true or false, many consumers follow and trust them as it gives them something to hold on to.

COVID-19: Seeking Emotional Comfort by Going Back to Your Roots

Research* showed that during the past year, right after the COVID-19 outbreak, a nutritional narrative shift appeared in how we see specific food products, which occurred amongst a big part of the consumers who are/were staying at home. Instead of relying on known and proven facts about nutrition, many people went back to their “roots” and trusted their cultural heritage (again) when approaching their health and wellbeing with food – going back to ancient health tips & home remedies.

Especially during uncertain times like these, where information regarding food & health has never been more abundant, consumers tend to choose products that are familiar to them or with which they have an emotional connection. Even without knowing the product, consumers trust their instincts and always prefer something they can connect to and give meaning to. It is the emotional comfort consumers seek and can find in myths but usually lacks in mainstream products, which is the key factor behind the spread of such nutritional myths, thus influencing and accelerating trends.

So, coming back to why this year’s Global GameChangers 2021 Report focuses on trends in the mass market…

In the year 2020, ALL health trends have accelerated. You can guess why: COVID-19.

Nutritional facts and nutritional myths help(ed) accelerate trends towards the mass market, where nutritional myths help strengthen the familiarity of a trend by leveraging the hidden nutritional assets, giving consumers the emotional comfort they seek.

Do you want to know how you can apply this to your brand, or do you want to know more about this research? Feel free to reach out to us!

*This article is based on Kübra Camur’s research on “Nutritional Myths: How They Spread and Why We Can’t Let Go Of Them…” – one of our latest Cultural Analyst studies from HMT Consumerlab, in collaboration with Lund University. This study is rooted in applied anthropology, cultural analysis dives into the base drivers of consumer preferences and practices, their hopes and fears and the cultural aspects behind people’s consumption choices. During our practices, cultural analysis has been proven to offer business deepened knowledge on the cultural and social phenomena driving the future of the health and wellness market.

Cheers,

Marit Veenstra

Brand Strategist & Insight Consultant at the HMT

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Sources used:

–         Cambridge Dictionary, definition Trend: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/trend

–         Cambridge Dictionary, definition Myth: https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/myth

 


This insight piece is published by

Marit Veenstra 

Brand Strategist & Insight Consultant

Trends accelerate, whereby trends shift from being a lifestyle niche towards the new normal in the mass market. The speed with which trends accelerate depends on many factors, with the COVID-19 outbreak being a great example of how rapidly this can happen. It appears that nutritional myths play a crucial role in accelerating trends, as they can provide consumers with the emotional comfort they seek in such uncertain times. Curious to know more?
I wrote an article for HMT, based on Cultural Analyst Kubra Camur (Master Program of Applied Cultural Analysis from Lund University) research on Nutritional Myth’s Role in Accelerating Trends.