The Diet Industry- a dying or evolving market?

The widespread desire to be ‘body beautiful’ is by no means a new phenomenon. I’m sure for as long as most of us can remember, people have turned to various diets to trim down, partly due to the pressures of the media, which constantly showcases images of people with the ‘ideal’ slim physique.

Capitalizing on this consumer desire to shed their unwanted pounds, brands and businesses alike have developed products, which claim to do exactly that.

The diet industry has snowballed quite drastically over time and is now worth an approximate $175.94 Billion[1].

But are things changing?

In the past, people have relied on calorie-restricted meals, low fat snacks and diet products to ‘get healthy’ and lose weight.  And whilst, weight loss will seemingly always be a goal for many, it is no longer the only thing that people are considering. It appears that people are adopting a new mentality - meaning counting calories is no longer in style.

In recent years, many consumers have bought into diet pills, juice cleanses, detox teas and meal replacement shakes, marketed to aid weight loss, many of which are sponsored by a mass of aesthetically ‘perfect’ celebrities and influencers. However, as a result of the diet industry suffering a bit of a PR crisis, people are recognising that these methods and some diets deemed as ‘faddy’ are not sustainable. They are therefore striving for optimum health as opposed to purely weight loss.

‘Wellness’ and ‘healthy eating’ appear to be the buzzwords of the moment, which in turn, are revolutionizing the diet industry considerably. Healthy food trends such as veganism, adopting the Mediterranean diet and (as mentioned in a previous blog article) protein enriched diets lead by health conscious, gym goers is gaining traction across the globe. Many brands have responded to this by altering their marketing messaging. Nestlé’s Lean Cuisine, for example, has recently rebranded itself to be more ‘well-being’ focused as opposed to ‘diet’ focused, in response to the shift in consumer demand.

A number of retailers are also committing to the delivery of nutritious and unrestricted food products, as well as making it easier for consumers to understand the nutritional value of their food. The Nutria-score initiative by Carrefour, for example, uses a colour-coded scheme to educate the consumer on the food they are consuming and to encourage them to focus on the best nutritional quality, as opposed to weight loss.

This has been reinforced by Ruth Bernstein, the Chief Strategic Officer at the imaging agency YARD "Many consumers are more focused on being strong instead of skinny, and while that shift doesn't eliminate our desire to evolve and shape our bodies, and replace fat with muscle, there is a new understanding that in order to be fit and healthy, we need the proper nutritional intake."[2]

With that being said, the global weight loss industry is still predicted to grow to a whopping $245.51 Billion by 2022[3]. Meaning that, despite the fact 95% of all dieters will regain the weight they lose within one year (a statistic that was released in the 50’s!), people clearly still have faith in quick fixes[4].

So whilst the diet industry has experienced a slight decline, due to a consumer shift towards overall health as opposed to just weight loss, there is no doubt that slimming down for aesthetic purposes is still high on many people’s agenda, thus making it unlikely to disappear altogether any time soon. Therefore, whichever avenue brands decide to go down (diets or healthy eating), there is no doubt that they can reap the benefits of either.