Unsurprisingly, one of the top New Year’s resolutions year after year is weight loss. With this usually comes with Dry January, attempting veganism for a few weeks or if you’re old school – cutting out the chocolate and exercising more. However, Foresight Factory social media analysis research shows that the latter two are no longer contradictory. Our report on chocolate shows that the much loved sweet treat has been given a new health kick and that natural chocolate is breaking free from the clutches of foodies. These emerging trends are on the rise and open to both health food brands and indulgent confectioners. Sure, chocolate flavoured fitness foods and raw bars have long been on the market but what’s most noticeable is the 180% (fitness) and 125% (natural) growth in online chatter on these topics in the last 24 months.
Driving the piqued interest in fitness and chocolate is The Everyday Athlete – a trend that analyses how everyday consumers are professionalising their view of fitness, which is facilitated by exercise-tracking biometric tools.Typically, those involved in this conversation are 10x more interested in personal development and 9x times more interested in self improvement than the general Twitter population. Foresight Factory forecasts interest in smart wearables to reach nearly 24% in 2020 from 14% in 2017. As wider interest in this increases, we also expect the same for the popularity of functional chocolate with health benefits.
What can brands do?
Health food brands can continue to offer chocolate flavoured products and perhaps explore ways of providing additional benefits. For example, Esthechoc is marketed as a clinically proven anti-ageing chocolate because of its high dosage of astaxanthin, a powerful anti-oxidant. While not strictly a ‘fitness’ chocolate, working out and eating well have strong associations with looking youthful. Notably, consumers within The Everyday Athlete trend will appreciate the scientific, medically-approved positioning of such products.
Then there’s natural chocolate which was once considered niche and for die-hard foodies on account of its acquired, bitter taste. Our recent social media listening analysis has identified that fruit and nut flavours are popular, especially banana, almond and peanut butter – all of which are frequently touted as having health benefits. Mentions of plant-based or vegan chocolate are also common within conversations about raw chocolate, showing overlapping interests in these diets and raw, unprocessed diets. Behind this is Foresight Factory’s trend Pursuit of Real, where consumers expect untampered, ‘authentic’ foods that crucially do not appear as mass-produced (even if they are).
What can brands do?
Although raw chocolate fans are still in the minority, the consensus in this emerging trend is to moderate sugar intake. Searches for sugar-free chocolate are consistently the highest, where dairy-free and raw chocolate are slightly smaller but tend to follow the same seasonal patterns, peaking at Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas. Taking note of the driving trend, brands can look to NPD and marketing to deliver ‘cleaner’ and even more ‘artisanal’ chocolate.