Life expectancy has increased in Asia-Pacific, with health improving significantly in most countries in the region. Longevity was accompanied by a greater number of healthy life years. The desire to be healthier is also moving away from fighting the signs of aging towards a focus on prevention and looking good and feeling good at all ages.
Desiring to stay healthy into old age, consumers are fueling demand for health and wellness, ranging from food and nutrition to activities. However, the demand does not only affect older people, middle-aged and younger consumers are also increasingly interested in a holistically healthy lifestyle in the natural aging process.
Euromonitor International uses a 3 pillar framework encompassing dietary habits, physical wellbeing and inner balance to identify wellness opportunities in the region.
Dietary habits: Sspecific nutritional needs covered by functional foods and fortification
Consumers are rethinking their eating habits as a preventative measure to stay healthy, and many are looking to increase their intake of healthy nutrients.
With a deeply rooted culture of traditional healing and nutritional supplements, the Asia Pacific region offers opportunities for traditional ingredients, ancient herbs and botanicals, and product innovation. In fact, younger generations in Asia-Pacific are rediscovering the therapeutic virtues of ancient medicine (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda), and manufacturers are responding with attractively packaged formulations and novel formats. This trend also benefits foods and beverages that contain well-known traditional ingredients that offer different functionalities.
As consumers take more responsibility for their health and nutrition, there is an increasing opportunity for food manufacturers to meet specific nutritional needs through functional foods and fortification. In particular, foods with health benefits play an increasingly important role in older people. For this cohort, inadequate nutrition is a contributing factor to the prevalence and severity of noncommunicable diseases related to cardiovascular, cognitive, musculoskeletal, and ophthalmic functioning.
Asia Pacific: Fastest growing health claims in packaged foods and beverages 2019-2020Source: Euromonitor International, Passport Products Claim and Positioning, 2020
Physical Wellness: The search for more holistic solutions to a healthy body and appearance
Asian consumers are increasingly proactive in their efforts to stay healthy and energetic for as long as possible, with an emphasis on aging well. This implies a more holistic view of physical well-being, which, in addition to looking healthy, includes the health of the body and the ability to perform physical activity without pain. This approach also relates to hygiene, sleeping habits and the social capital of sporting activities, which have a positive impact on psychological well-being.
For example, the quest for physical well-being is reflected in a consumer focus on the health and physical appearance of skin, with the definition of beauty becoming increasingly intertwined with wellness. According to Euromonitor International’s 2021 Beauty Survey, almost 50% of respondents equated beauty with looking healthy, higher than other factors such as hygiene or feeling comfortable on the skin. Associated with this is the simplification of beauty regimens, with consumers moving away from multi-step beauty routines and focusing on healthy-looking and healthy-feeling skin.
Defining Beauty in Asia Pacific 2021
Source: Euromonitor International, Beauty Survey, 2021
Similarly, Asian consumers are increasingly relying on sports nutrition supplementation to maintain a balanced diet that supports physical wellness. Government policies have continued to support this growing demand for sports nutrition with programs and initiatives to encourage participation in physical activity.
Inner Balance: Growing recognition of preventive measures and technology-enhanced treatments
Inner balance is closely linked to lifestyle, as measured by factors such as mental health, memory, sleep and stress, which are not mutually exclusive. Asian consumers have previously prioritized more specific issues such as diet. However, the pandemic has heightened concerns, leading to a prioritization of these issues. According to Euromonitor International’s Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, a high proportion of respondents in Asia-Pacific view these issues as long-term health problems, more so than they currently do, with the region contributing the highest percentage in the world.
Long-term health concernsSource: Euromonitor International Voice of the Consumer: Health and Nutrition Survey, 2021
In Asia-Pacific, functional foods and beverages, such as snacks and RTDs, are more affordable and familiar solutions to help build daily prevention routines for all ages compared to dietary supplements that typically attract discerning consumers in developed markets. Alongside preventative measures that sit somewhere between professional advice and self-education, guided self-help is a service middle ground, and the digitization of such services may be key post-pandemic, significantly increasing accessibility and reducing costs.
The Asia Pacific wellness market is ripe for reinvention and significant value appreciation
Asia Pacific has had a consistently high projected propensity for per capita spending on wellness. The positive outlook offers opportunities in a broader wellness context.
In addition to opportunities related to catering for the elderly, supported by increasing life expectancy and aging demographics in Japan and South Korea, increasing acceptance of, and willingness to spend on, products geared towards healthier lifestyles are emerging among younger consumer cohorts in Southeast Asia and India the entirety of the Asia Pacific wellness market is ripe for reinvention and significant value appreciation. Manufacturers should also consider cultural nuances and variations in demand across age groups to identify and target target customers with curated products and marketing strategies.
For more insight, see our Wellness: Longevity and the Quest for Healthy Aging in Asia Pacific report.