Consumer Behavior Trends: Attitudes of the Highly Active in the US 

Explore the latest consumer behavior trends in the US, including supplement use and marketing trends for highly active adults

March 13, 2024 – When looking at consumer trends, attitudes, and behaviors, consumers in the US can be divided into three groups that reflect their level of activity – highly active, moderate activity, or low activity.

Highly Active Adults Make Up Nearly 30% of US Adults

US adults who are highly active make up nearly 30% of all US adults. This group’s extreme activity level involves heavy daily physical work. Consumer behavior trends data shows the high activity group of US adults also includes athletes who are involved with frequent intensive activity that can be daily or done regularly throughout the week. Activities can include running or swimming. US adults who get moderate activity, making up 42% of respondents, engage in some physical work and lower impact activities such as teaching, golfing, doing laundry, or walking. US consumers who are at the lowest activity level (29%) have sedentary work and perform light activities, including working at a desk, reading, watching television, and driving.

Highly Active US Adults Have Healthy Eating Beliefs

Compared to US adults who are moderately active or low activity, consumers in the US with high physical activity levels are more likely to prioritize food and beverage as a tool for improving health. Consumer behavior trends showcase over half (56%) of highly active US adults use food and beverage to improve their health, compared to 45% of moderately active and 41% of low activity consumers. US adults who are highly active also know more about healthy foods and are the most confident that they can make healthy foods choices.

Consumer Behavior Trends

Highly Active US Adults Care Most About Their Food Choices

Consumer behavior trends reveal that US consumers who are the most active also are most likely to put time and effort into shopping for and preparing ingredients for a healthy diet. Here, the gap is significant, with two-thirds of high-activity consumers putting in extra effort, compared to half of low-activity consumers. Similarly, fortified foods and supplements appeal more to highly active people in the US than to those with low activity levels, 62% compared to 47%. The gap is greater regarding the belief that eating only natural foods comprises a healthy diet – 58% of highly-active US consumers believe this, compared to 38% of low activity US adults.

Specialty Nutrition Appeals to High Activity US Adults

Various types of specialty nutrition products are highly appealing to US adults who get a lot of physical activity. High-activity adults are most likely to use sports nutrition products, including products for protein (55% high activity vs. 29% low activity), energy (53% compared to 30%), and recovery, with a 20-percentage point difference (44% to 24%). Highly active people also are the most likely to follow a lactose-free diet, gluten-free diet, or plant-based diet.

High Activity US Adults Improve Their Health

US adults who are highly active also are proactive about their health. Over one-third say they have turned to functional foods to improve their health in the past 12 months; this compares to one-fifth of adults getting the lowest levels of activity. Sleep is also important to highly active consumers, with 43% taking action in the past year for better health. According to Innova’s consumer behavior trends, only 31% of consumers with low activity levels tried to improve their sleep habits. Highly active adults in the US are also concerned about healthy aging. Half view physical exercise as an action toward aging healthily.

Supplement Use Crosses All Activity Levels

Independent of activity level, consumer behavior trends demonstrate that adult consumers in the US took supplements to improve health over the past 12 months. Nearly one-third of US adults surveyed at all activity levels take supplements for their health. However, those at the highest activity levels most value fortified foods and supplements. High activity adults also lead others in selecting natural foods and clean labels.

Watch for Stepped Up Marketing to Highly Active Adults

Because high activity consumers show more interest in health, expect heightened marketing of functional foods and sports nutrition products with clean and natural labels, gluten-free, lactose-free, and plant-based products to that group. Products that combine physical activity, healthy eating and healthy aging may appeal, especially those that connect healthy eating to higher physical activity.

Products Can Be Marketed to All Adults

Since consumer behavior trends show that consumers with high or low activity levels are interested in various aspects of health and nutrition, products that could appeal across activity levels include energy and protein products for all levels of activity, supplements with specific health benefits, and products for better sleep. Opportunities also exist to educate low-activity consumers on the value of functional foods.

This article is based on our consumer insider report, “Pulse of the Active Consumer: Attitudes & Behaviors in the US.” If you are interested in reading this report, feel free to request a demo.
You can do this by either booking a demo or using our Contact Form.

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