Five ways Covid-19 has changed health and wellness shoppers

How the pandemic has changed the way people take care of themselves

In a report earlier this year, we identified fitness enthusiasts as a unique segment of consumers who adopted new digital behaviors to reach their fitness and wellness goals. Consumers initially began this journey by watching fitness and cooking videos online and, a year and a half later, fitness enthusiasts have come a long way. While some consumers have renewed their gym memberships with the reopening of fitness centers, others have dived deeper into their digital fitness journey by building home gyms and juice bars. 

Here are some of the ways lockdown has changed the digital behavior of consumers.

1. Lockdown fueled healthy thinking 

Due to the pandemic situation that prevailed, it embarked on umpteen lockdowns. As a result, people spent more time indoors. Research suggests that people with stronger immune and respiratory systems were less prone to the virus than others. This triggered a sense of healthy living and pushed people to keep up with a fitness and wellness regime to be more resilient health-wise. Some took up activities that could suffice their mental well-being such as yoga, exercise, and much more. Other avid gym-goers made exercise arrangements at home to stay fit. Health domains saw a spike during April and May 2020 and our latest research suggests that people will continue to be more concerned about health and wellness even after vaccinations curb the spread of the deadly virus.

2. Exercise and cooking searches peaked after the pandemic

Exercising, eating well and having healthy sleep patterns are core areas of wellness. This is why consumers took up exercise and cooking more passionately during lockdown. 

Interest around cooking and exercise increased two-fold after the second week of March right when the pandemic started. There was a slight increase around interest in cooking during the holiday season as many families cooked gourmet meals to celebrate the festive season. The interest around cooking and exercise remains higher than the pre-pandemic months of 2020.  


3. Lockdowns nudged consumers to be wellness centric

In a research conducted by MiQ in partnership with Sapio Research, we asked consumers globally if they spent more money, time, and effort on wellbeing in 2020. People in India (65%) and the US (49%) were most likely to have done so, with consumers in Australia (36%) and Germany (40%) less keen to get involved with new wellbeing activities. Countries more affected by the lockdowns took up fitness and wellbeing more seriously than the others.

Consumers who are employed, self-employed or students, spent more effort on wellbeing than homemakers. This is probably due to the change in the lifestyles of students and working professionals during the lockdown period. Homemakers might have more on their plate, dealing with more people at home during all hours of the day with less time for their personal well-being. Very few people said they put less effort into well-being during lockdown. 


The research also shows that consumers increased their spending on fitness and wellness services during the lockdown. Over 20% of consumers spent more money on wellness services in the US, UK, and Australia during the lockdown. This is why apps like Fitbit, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun, 10K Runner recorded a surge in subscriptions and downloads in 2020. This trend is likely to continue, even after the fitness centers and gyms open up at full scale. 


4. Lockdowns encouraged people to be more mindful

In the last 18 months, we have seen a massive transformation to online mediums and the story around health and wellness is no different. Our data shows that consumers spend one to three hours a day watching fitness content on connected TVs. And, more than 50% of consumers watched content related to yoga and mindfulness. Yoga is perhaps an easy break from work-from-home schedules, or perhaps a way of healing the aches on backs, shoulders and necks due to the continuous periods of working from home. Overall, lockdown pushed consumers to take up wellness seriously, to keep their emotional, mental, and physical well-being in check. 

Most consumers practiced yoga and other wellness exercises in the morning, especially from 9am to 11am. People still rely on linear TV to work out in the comfort of their homes But consumers also got fitness content on popular yoga apps like Daily Yoga, Down Dog, other fitness-related applications and YouTube. Youtube data suggests that the Yoga Community continues to grow in 2021.


5. Fitness enthusiasts will continue cooking healthy meals 

Wellness is more than just working out and staying active, it is about mindful, clean eating. With more time on their hands, many people started cooking more healthily during the year of lockdowns. Our research shows that cooking as a trend is likely to continue. While the future of fitness might return to pre-pandemic habits with more than 23% of consumers all over the world keen on going back to fitness centers and gyms, it is less likely that people will go back to their pre-pandemic ways of eating. 

With a hybrid model of working in the future, with more working from home likely to continue, consumers will have more time in hand to shop for their groceries and cook their meals. While some may resort to intelligent ways of meal-prep, others might make instant one-bowl meals for their families. The level of awareness when it comes to nutrition, food, and wellness has increased and there is no way to unlearn the many benefits of clean and nutritious eating. Additionally, in our CPG ebook series, we looked at how shopping for essentials has changed in the year of lockdown with many more shoppers using digital means to order their food for the week. This behavior makes new eating habits to continue. 


Recommendations for Marketers:

The pandemic allowed audiences across the globe to revisit their health and wellness regimes. An increased focus on physical wellness through at-home workouts and nutrition was accompanied by an increase in awareness around mental and emotional well being as consumers globally looked to achieve balance in their lives. 

And, with things slowly getting back to normal, marketers can expect some of the gains made over the last year to dissipate (or in most cases transition to an alternate behavior). But the general development of a ‘healthy ’mindset among large sections of consumers worldwide will continue to influence user preferences in the post-pandemic world. The choices fitness enthusiasts made over the last year will continue to influence decisions like what they eat, what they wear, how they exercise and  much more, generating massive opportunities for marketers to benefit from. Marketers who have been monitoring these changes in consumer behaviors over the period are likely to be in a much better position to identify and activate upon these opportunities as and when they arise.