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Consumers’ health status, personal interests and life priorities continuously change with age. Demanding lifestyles of Thai consumer combined with early signs of ageing often trigger middle-aged consumers to become more concerned about their health, nutrition and resulting in increased interest in using functional food/drinks.

Latest research from Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, highlights that for 84% of Thai consumer health is a top priority, and even more so for consumers aged between 25-44. Among millennials aged between 25-34, over a quarter (28%) of consumers rely on products with added nutritional benefits to balance out their indulgence intake and 34% of consumers in the same cohort seek out the latest information on health and nutrition information.

Pimwadee Aguilar, Associate Director for Food & Drink, at Mintel said:

“The degree to which consumers choose to engage with functional food and drink products varies depending on life stage and lifestyles. The increase in health awareness often takes place after the first signs of health decline. As simple signs such as facial fine lines usually appear at around the age of 25, it is at this stage when consumers are really motivated to review their diet and attempt to improve it either through conventional foods, supplementation or medicine.”

“With consumers seeking convenient ways to make up for their imbalanced lifestyle, brands in the food and drink space have an opportunity to tap into this need state to help consumers feel at their best despite their busy schedule. To find success in functional food and drink business, brands need to develop products that provide customised benefits to fulfil the needs of different demographic groups.”

Performance enhancement is the key target benefit

Thai consumers are looking for ways to improve performance and delay the degeneration of health. Mintel research highlights that the top three benefits consumer look for in functional food and drink products include brain health (62%), eye health (55%) and skin health (53%)and that boost energy. However, 53% of consumers prefer getting nutrients through regular food and drink rather than through those with fortifications and this increases to 66%, among consumers aged 45+.

“Despite the significant demands for functional food and drinks with benefits for brain/eye health and energy, within the last three years, the Thai market has experienced very stable growth in product launches that cater to these needs. With new ingredients and product varieties that can deliver these benefits, there is still a large opportunity for business growth. In Thailand, ‘naturally functional’ ingredients or products are perceived to be better than ‘added nutrition’ among consumers. Brands can appeal to consumers, especially adults with food and drink products with functional benefits from natural sources as they convey ‘healthiness’ more strongly than those with synthetic ingredients. Product formats such as beverage powders and yogurts which can easily fit into many meal occasions, and presents an opportunity to penetrate exceptionally well with consumers as they contain ‘familiar, real-food’ qualities. Energy drinks and those with electrolytes, on the other hand, are consumed less, mostly due to their ‘overly processed’ image. To win consumer acceptance, manufacturers need to develop products which provide functional benefits, yet maintain ‘real food’ look and taste,” said Pimwadee.

Beauty inside out

Consumers want to look their best, even amidst busy lifestyles, as Mintel research reveals that over half of consumers look for skin health (51%) and over a third of consumers seek products that aid weight loss (37%). The interest is high, especially among female consumers, in functional food and drinks products that offer for skin health (63%) and weight loss benefits (45%). Finally, Thai consumers say they are aware and have consumed collagen (73%) and antioxidants (72%).

“Urbanisation has resulted in consumers leading hectic lifestyles which often increases their chances of physical and mental burnout and premature ageing. As a result, early signs of ageing on the face and body are triggering consumers, especially females, to seek solutions to delay the decline. Collagen and antioxidants are the most popular functional ingredients among consumers as they seek ‘quick fixes’ to improve physical appearance and delay ageing. Food and drink can play an important role in beauty as ingredients for healthy skin such as collagen are seeing high awareness and usage. It is essentials for brands to lead in educating consumers about ingredients and benefits the product delivers and offer convenient, effective and tasty beauty and weight management solutions to consumers,” concluded Pimwadee.

Press interviews with Pimwadee Aguilar, Associate Director for Food & Drink, Mintel are available on request from the Mintel Press Office.