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Amidst all the buzz surrounding health and wellness for modern consumers, Canadians aren’t pretending to be the pillars of health with the majority (66%) saying that they live a somewhat healthy lifestyle. This isn’t to say that Canadians are apathetic. New research from Mintel reveals that the majority of Canadians are not satisfied with their current wellbeing (65%) and most don’t feel in control of it (59%). It is clear Canadians are aware they can do more to be healthier.

Life is getting in the way and busy schedules are cutting into Canadian’s ability to care for themselves; as a result, Canadians say time (33%) and responsibilities (37%) are the top barriers hindering their ability to achieve the ideal level of wellness. Despite the need for shortcuts, however, few (21%) Canadians use heath technology to manage their health.

Carol Wong-Li, Associate Director, Lifestyles & Leisure, Mintel, said:

“As health management is by definition an ongoing pursuit, consumers aren’t interested in making drastic changes to their daily routines, so providing nudges and rewarding smaller steps will win the game. Companies and brands will find success by helping consumers simplify the quest for better health into more digestible elements. The focus should be more about building on to current behaviours, rather than pushing consumers to adopt new ones.”

Addressing mental wellness: stress as common as a cold

Mental wellness is becoming more and more of a priority for Canadians as 52% say they have experienced a mental health concern in the past year. Interestingly, mental health is an area that’s impacted by life stage; for example mothers with children under age 18 at home say they are more likely to experience anxiety (41% vs 29% of fathers), and Gen Z women say they are more likely to experience depression (45% vs 30% of Gen Z men).

With Canadians saying they are just as likely to experience stress (42%) as they are common ailments like the cold (41%), it is clear that mental wellness is a key area that needs to be addressed. This seems to be especially true for women, who are experiencing more instances of stress and anxiety: in the past year, 81% of women aged 18-24 say they experienced any mental health disorder, compared to 52% overall.

“As schedules are already full, wellness solutions must meet consumers where they are. Given that consumers today are having difficulty being ‘available’, companies and brands will benefit by layering on to activities that consumers are already doing. The reality is that many are multitasking – even when they are relaxing. As such, promoting second-screen activities, like colouring while watching TV, may be a key way to connect with consumers who are multitasking on their downtime – for example shopping on their phones while watching TV,” continued Wong-Li.

Community matters: friends/family aren’t credible, but are motivating

There is an interesting dynamic when it comes to health information sources and motivation. While trained professionals like specialists and doctors are seen as credible (45%), they’re not deemed motivating (25%). At the same time, few see family/friends as credible (19%), yet consumers are the most likely to get motivation from them (43%).

“Our research highlights the importance of building a sense of community in the health and wellness space. Whether it be to foster a sense of friendly competition or moral support, virtual communities could be an effective way to keep consumers engaged and motivated with healthy living habits – no matter their age. Looking ahead, virtual communities may be playing a bigger role in managing mental wellness as consumers don’t see their homes as a place of belonging due to working from home or other income-related circumstances, leading consumers to seek alternative places to or spaces to fill the void,” concluded Wong-Li.

More information and interviews with Carol Wong-Li, Associate Director, Lifestyles & Leisure, are available on request from the Mintel Press Office.