Mindful sourcing: Consumers are becoming more mindful about their food choices

From meditation to a focus on what can be called “mindful sourcing” in foods and beverages, consumers are increasingly taking a considered approach about not just food but health and wellness habits. As a sign of the trend, in 2017, PBS examined the topic of meditation in its “Mindfulness Goes Mainstream” documentary, underscoring what we’ve seen in our health and wellness research, which is that consumers increasingly see their health and wellness practices as a means of nourishing a complex ecosystem of healthy habits. This ecosystem includes healthy habits such as:

  • Getting enough restful sleep that's high quality and rejuvenating
  • Good food that's real, fresh and varied
  • Physical movement that's frequent, energizing and strengthening
  • Supportive healthcare that might be regular, holistic and thoughtful
  • Social engagement that's meaningful, warming, supportive
  • Mental practices that are mindful, stabilizing and enlightening

In keeping with their holistic vision of health and wellness, today’s consumers are more likely than in the past to view healthy habits as less about dealing with an acute problem or looking good and more about overall mindset.

Our Health + Wellness 2017 report found that 80% of consumers believe mental and emotional balance is as important as physical health, and 41% say that health and wellness can mean “finding a spiritual balance.” Being able to enjoy life, deal with stress, and relax are also considered key elements of what health and wellness means today.

From exercise to sleep, consumers are trying to find ways to develop daily rhythms that foster wellness in all dimensions. In terms of mental wellness, we found that 12% of consumers reported practicing meditation, a figure that represents the cultural acceptance of mindfulness practices once considered difficult and far from mainstream. Historically, talking about mental wellness was once fraught with stigma; today “working” on mental wellness is increasingly regarded as a sensible approach to health and self-improvement.

The language and logic of “mindfulness” — including the significance of feeling present, in the moment, and being aware of one’s own reactions — has become a critical part of the modern approach to well-being, especially in coping with stress. Consumers acknowledge the broad, long-term consequences of stress as well as its short-term impact on productivity, creativity and performance.

Mindfulness is not necessarily just a spiritual pursuit. Our trend watchers within The Hartman Group’s Retainer Services team have identified its influence on demand for foods and beverages whereby the overarching trend toward mindfulness has prompted consumers to ask meaningful questions about the origins of their food, culminating in the term “mindful sourcing.”

Mindful sourcing means that as consumers seek more information and expect greater degrees of transparency, they are becoming more mindful about their food choices. Mindful sourcing includes wanting to know what is in their food and beverages in order to make the most informed decisions that might be influenced by health, environmental or ethical issues.

Understanding Mindfulness

Consumers increasingly see their bodies as complex systems that are nourished by a variety of behaviors, including their diet, physical movement, restful sleep, social engagement, mental practice and receiving supportive healthcare.

  • As such, developing and marketing a healthful product or service requires thinking about not just what’s in it but how it can support these more holistic goals in all aspects of their life, like relieving stress, creating family time by saving time in other ways, or offering a wholesome, fun experience.
  • In keeping with this holistic focus, language associated with “mindfulness” practices has particular relevance today and has fully infiltrated consumer discourse. Mindfulness can mean many things, however, so companies should take care to understand what mindfulness means to their consumers.
  • Engaging in and building habits they believe to be “healthy” allows consumers to enact “feeling well.” More than ever, consumers see interconnections between various components of their bodies, their habits, and the worlds in which they live. In particular, the connection consumers see between their physical and mental health is deepening. When one area of life is out of balance, it can cause a cascade of effects throughout their life.
  • In the context of foods and beverages, mindfulness has created an empowered consumer increasingly asking meaningful questions about the origins of their food.

As CEO of The Hartman Group, DeMeritt drives the vision, strategy, operations and results-oriented culture for the company's associates as The Hartman Group furthers its offerings of tactical thinking, consumer and market intelligence, cultural competency and innovative intellectual capital to a global marketplace.

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