Health has been a point of concern for people ever since the Covid pandemic made us realise how fragile it could be, if not maintained well. The pandemic has tested well all aspects of life that we had taken for granted and placed us squarely with the question, are we doing it well? Be it health or economy, relationships or anything else that matters to human social life, it has made us rethink our outlook and strategies. What has evolved as a result of this is a new interest in taking care of one’s health – staying physically fit – as a means of adapting the prevention-better-than-cure approach. The youth, particularly, has been much influenced by the idea and inspired by the benefits of having a fit and healthy body that could rise to the occasion and fight for itself, if need be.
Our numerous surveys in this area conducted all across the country show how the awareness of health and health-related products work for consumers of various age groups and how they approach the idea of staying healthy based upon their perception and reach of the available means and products in the market. Information related to health-related products, their types, variety and range, their benefits and pain points, their performance over the years, their price range, availability and comparative reviews are obtained from multifarious sources – both offline and online – before arriving at an informed decision. We learn that consumers break down their fitness regimen, primarily, into two components:
- Controlled food intake – raw, cooked, or supplement-based
- Exercise – walking, running, freehand, gym-based, yoga
Speaking, to start with, about the reason for setting a health goal, it was found that most people in the twenty-five to forty-year age group would like to attain fitness because of one or more of the following concerns:
- Losing excess weight so as to stay in shape
- Hereditary conditions like diabetes, cholesterol, coronary heart diseases or obesity
- Remaining fit and active throughout life so that one could be in control
- Uplifting their personalities by building their bodies in a particular way through exercise and training
- Finding a balance between physical and mental health
With reasons varying for the setting of the goal, the aim is always to find oneself in a position where one is in the best possible space in terms of health. Often, this aim is underlined by the concern of putting friends and family in a compromised position because of one’s health issues. In doing so, consumers choose one or a combination of the following ways for staying fit:
- Work out/exercise
- Healthy eating/controlled eating
- Walking/using treadmill
- Following a healthy schedule
With such varying range of intentions and needs, and considering the wide differences in lifestyle and occupation that consumers have, it is imperative that each choose the way they find not only the best but also the most convenient when it comes to following a daily routine. This would also be governed, naturally, by the factors of age, profession, lifestyle and socio-economic stand. Hence, in order to find a pattern in the decision-making of a section of consumers, or their purchase journey of health-based products and equipment, it is crucial to understand their perception of health first and foremost.
Protein intake is considered as a major marker in maintaining health as it helps build muscle power and keep one fit and active. Consumers in the young to middle age group show considerable awareness about protein supplements in the form of isolate proteins like whey protein, soy protein, egg white protein, brown rice protein, etc. The health enthusiasts who visit the gym to stay in shape and attain a body-type depend heavily on protein supplements. Their awareness about the product allows them to choose their favourites based on factors like its nutritional profile and quality in addition to the flavours available, their taste and particular budget.
For those that depend on exercise, it is often a matter of convenience that rules the decision. Hence treadmills frequently replace outdoor walks, because of the convenience of timing and exercising that they allow indoors. However, it has been observed that young consumers are quicker in their purchase decisions in this segment rather than the middle-aged above-40 ones, for whom it is a more cautious and slower process.
Overall, trends indicate that both awareness about and action upon health and fitness are here to stay, and it is one of the promises that bode well about the future of our Indian youth.