Consumers Seek 'Health-Enhancing' Foods to Combat Winter Blues

NEW YORK — It’s almost time to put away the light autumn cover-ups and dust off the heavy winter coats. Winter is approaching which suggests the onset of the SAD season. SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of “winter depression” that is linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during shorter days of the year. But to what extent do consumers care about this?

According to Datamonitor Consumer’s latest research, one in five global consumers claim to be concerned about SAD. Unsurprisingly, this sentiment is particularly strong in countries that experience severe winters.  For example nearly a third of Polish consumers claim to be currently concerned about SAD, while a quarter of consumers in Canada express concern about this health condition.  

Consumers are turning to health-enhancing foods instead of over-the-counter medicines

A significant proportion of global consumers view health-enhancing food and drinks as a viable alternative to over-the-counter (OTC) medicines. Tanvi Savara, Food & Drink Analyst at Datamonitor Consumer notes that “consumers who express concern about SAD are seeking out health benefits from real food and drink, rather than medications. Our 2014 global survey showed that 66 percent of consumers concerned about seasonal affective disorder actively buy food and drinks to improve their health. In contrast, only 40 percent claim to use OTC medicines on a regular basis.” These findings reveal significant opportunities for the food and drink industry.

Target the innovation gap in “mood foods”

Well-informed consumers are recognizing the use of dietary and nutritional self-help strategies to improve overall wellbeing. In light of this, functional foods targeted at boosting mental health and wellbeing is a key growth area for manufacturers. 

According to Savara, “‘mood foods’ that make emotive claims offer opportunities for product differentiation in the over-crowded functional food space. It also provides an avenue for everyday mundane staples like bread to foster greater consumer engagement. As a result, products that boost mood and offer ‘healthier’ energy by using natural energizing ingredients such as ginseng, theanine and guarana are coming to the fore.”

Datamonitor Consumer’s latest infographic offers a snapshot of some of its research findings on consumers that are concerned about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Access the infographic here.