This morning whilst juggling my morning coffee and croissant on a packed train, I did what most people do on public transport, I got my mobile phone out and pretended I was super busy. I started to flick through my Instagram to kill a bit of time. The first image was by a friend who had made a sugar free banana loaf, straight out of the oven and immediately on Instagram. It looked delicious. The next was Anna Heinrich in a teeney-tiny bikini looking incredible. I stare at her in wonder and think “I’d kill for her body” as I take another bite of my croissant. The next image is an ad for Sally Obermeders ‘Super Green Smoothies’. I take a swig of my coffee and think to myself that I should really try it. I keep scrolling – image after image of incredibly stunning and healthy people either doing yoga, drinking green juice, meditating or promoting their 20km morning run with a Strava map comes up in my feed. I start feeling guilty that my body isn’t ripped, that the only run I did this morning was 15 metres to the train, and that I have a slight hangover from a weekend of really good wine (ok, that last part I don’t feel guilty about!).
This example above showcases how an industry has gone from being secluded to certain suburbs in states, to now being one of the fastest growing industries in Australia. Clean Living is now a multi-billion dollar industry, with organic food sales alone predicted to be worth $1.8 billion in 2018. The demand to look, feel and be the best you possibly can be, is at an all-time high, and social media is the reason for this growth. It takes every day Australian’s who enjoy and preach a healthy lifestyle and broadcasts their ‘simple’ message to those who are seeking a slimmer waste or clearer skin and mind. Australian’s no longer desire to be Hollywood stars or supermodels, many want to look like the ex-Bachelor contestant, or the girl who went from size 26 to size 6. This is how demand grew, and with demand comes savvy young entrepreneurs who take advantage of this incredible opportunity and before you know it – a whole new industry booms. This is Clean Living.
Given it has been predicted that this industry will make in excess of $5 billion this year, we decided that we needed to gain a better understanding of this fast moving industry. Just in January this year, there were almost 280,000 Australian’s searching online for information on diets and nutrition, 265,000 searching for gyms, personal trainers, yoga or Pilates and 87,000 searching for fitness tracker. We decided to break this industry analysis into three categories; Eat, Move and Wear.
Every year there seems to be a new hot and effective diet on the scene. Whether it’s as minor as starting the day with hot water and lemon juice, to only eating shakes for 8 weeks – Australian’s are very quick to jump on the trend. Between December 2016 and February 2017, diet related searches saw an 89% increase, with January seeing the largest search audience ever – because we all know that January is the month to start anew! But how many of us remain dedicated to improving our diet and lifestyle? Well, by March at least 38% of people have dropped off.
So what are the hot diets of 2017? It seems that Vegan is the diet to try for most, with search interest increasing a huge 217% since 2014. The next diet comes as a surprise to me (my closest friend is a coeliac and would LOVE to smash a meat pie), Gluten Free. No longer a nuisance health condition, it’s now the second most searched for diet for Australian’s, with search interest increasing 85% since 2014. With all this interest shift into Vegan and Gluten Free, interest in other diets has seen a decline since 2014. The two mainstream diets that have seen a decline in the past few years are Paleo down 22% since 2014 and Dairy Free, down 8% since 2015. Given the negative press surrounding Pete Evans lately, and the fact he’s Australia’s biggest supporter of the Paleo diet, Australian dieters could be cautiously participating in something that’s deemed ‘controversial’, opting for something with a stronger positive awareness.
Superfoods are the new ‘it’ thing when it comes to healthy eating. In fact, search interest in superfoods has grown by 64% since 2015. Given the rise in searches for diets, this trend is no surprise. Why would you eat 10 different vegetables if you could eat one and get all the same nutrients? To diet short cutters like myself, it makes sense.
In many parts of Australia, the price rise of two items are the hot topic for many. The housing boom and the smashed avo boom! Not only are avocadoes one of the most expensive fresh produce items, but they were also the most searched for superfood, growing by 114% since 2015. Acai (+110%), almond milk (+107%), goji berries (+101%) and chia seeds (+43%) have all seen interest increase strongly since 2015. Another category within the Eat section of Clean Living that is seeing incredible growth are ready-made and subscription meals. The likes of Lite’n Easy have seen an interest growth of 18% just in a quarter (Q4,2016 vs. Q1, 2017) but the brand that saw the most significant increase QoQ was Kombu Foods, increasing a staggering 35% in one quarter! Australians are seeking out healthy, convenient and time saving meals and the growth within this category showcases that. Brands who have clued into and actioned on this consumer demand are starting to reap the rewards. Back in 2014, Woolworths purchased Macro Wholefoods and introduced healthy products into their stores. Because of this, Woolworths are now the preferred supermarket for health conscious consumers in Australia.
Whether it’s the pressure from social media or a desire to improve one’s lifestyle, the exercise boom has well and truly hit. Its building significant momentum in Australia, in particular Fitness Centres, which are now a $2 billion dollar industry*. Gone are the days of going to the gym and choosing from an aerobics, pump or a spin class, gyms these days have become more of a health and wellness club offering everything from yoga and pilates, to spas and physios, to sleep pods and meditation rooms. For many, ‘gyms’ are now a second home. As with ‘Eat’ there is a significant spike in interest in January of every year, with this past January seeing an increase of 450,000 visits since December 2016. Who hasn’t started the year with a goal to get into shape?! But as many of us have experienced, as the mornings get colder, interest soon fades. Online visits to Gym and Fitness Centres saw a 26% decline from January to February, 2017. It also seems that Australian’s love of yoga is only growing stronger with each passing year. Since 2015, the search interest for yoga has increased by 73%, with interest increasing amongst males and those aged 35-44. But the new ‘must do’ activity sounds tough, but everyday Australian’s are signing up in droves – challenge sports. You know, those activities which look incredibly painful and difficult but give people a rush of pride if they complete it. Or so I have been told… The most popular challenge sport based on online search interest is Tough Mudder, growing by 130% since 2015. Ironman and Marathons have also seen strong growth, increasing 65% and 56% respectively. Australian’s are a competitive bunch and we love a challenge so the interest growth in this category is not at all surprising. But what we are seeing is a big interest is sport brands who are wanting to tag onto this incredible growth. Virgin Active is a great example of a brand noticing a trend and actioning it, by offering specific Tough Mudder training classes. For sports brands wanting to increase brand awareness and audience reach, understanding consumer trends are vital in seeking out opportunities that will succeed, versus exercise fads which may fizzle out.
Activewear has gone from the main function being comfort and support, to now being a staple fashion item in one’s wardrobe. It’s not uncommon to go to brunch on the weekend and be surrounded by Australians sipping lattes in lycra who haven’t and don’t plan on getting sweaty at any point that day! Of all the Clean Living segments, activewear has seen the strongest increase of interest than any other topic or product, growing a HUGE 490% since 2015. A main contributor to this growth is the launch of new activewear brands such as Stylerunner, Running Bare and The WOD. In the past 12 months, all have seen collective growth of 30%. But it’s not just the new brands benefiting from this increase in activewear interest. Brands such as Nike and Adidas have also seen incredible growth, increasing 70% in the past 2 years. But it’s not just fashion that’s seeing an increase within the ‘Wear’ category. Wearable technology is rapidly changing the way Australian’s exercise. The likes of Fitbits and Garmin have made exercising social, competitive and informative. Interest in wearable technology has grown by 58% since 2015 and with more brands entering this market, the interest is only going up. Wearable technology is not just fitness trackers or watches, but the growth of fitness apps for smartphones have also seen unheard of growth. Strava, a website and app, is used to track athletic activity via GPS and is known as the ‘social network for athletes’. Combining exercise and social media is a match made in heaven, showcased by the mass increase of 53% search interest.
Clean Living is a relatively new industry but one that is seeing incredible growth, and with growth comes vital opportunities for brands. Understanding this industry and how it ticks is key for brands considering breaking into it. If I was to take out 3 key points from all of the findings in our latest Clean Living report, it would be;
1. The Clean Living industry is not showing any signs of stalling but understanding the time of year when it peaks, is key to reaching the largest active audience at the right time.
2. This industry is being pushed and directed by social media. Without social media, breaking into this market will be near impossible.
3. Each year sees a hot new diet or exercise and the only way to be exposed to what it is, is via search interest. Given most Australian’s seek out information on search platforms first, you’re getting an incredible amount of insight from this type of data.
*IbisWorld Gym & Fitness Centres in Australia Report