The Clean Living Movement Goes Mainstream

The Clean Living Movement Goes Mainstream

As featured in the BRC Q4 Quarterly Retail Trends Report

The turn of year traditionally brings about a “new year, new me” mantra. This normally manifests in various ways, such as an uptake in searches for crash detox diets or a sharp rise in gym website visitations and memberships.

Hitwise data, which aggregates and anonymises online activity from over 3 million people in the UK, has shown a different trend unfolding in recent years.

Whilst there is always a spike in the new year, Hitwise data reveals a consistent decline in short-term fixes over the past three years. Instead, we have seen a growing movement in “Clean Living”, a conscious effort by the collective to lead healthier and more sustainable lives.

From a 61% rise in the number of people searching for whole food diets such as veganism, to a 72% increase in people searching for wearable fitness technologies, the Clean Living trend is entering British mainstream culture.


In this article, we examine how people’s choices regarding food, fitness and fashion have shifted. As Clean Living has grown into a multi-million-pound industry covering numerous food and non-food product verticals, we also highlight how retailers have evolved to reach this expansive and loyal audience.

1. Distinguishing fads from long-term trends
The steady rise in interest towards living a more balanced lifestyle is reflected in searches for specific food products. Over the past three years, we have seen a shift away from short-term fixes, such as detox and paleo diets, to a growing adoption of sustainable diets, including veganism, dairy-free and gluten-free diets.

With these searches increasing, the food industry is competing to attract health-conscious consumers. Supermarkets, in particular, have approached this goal in various ways, from releasing exclusive product ranges, to providing healthy recipes, diet advice and meal plans. The likes of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Ocado have seen considerable success, with clicks from healthy food-related searches to their websites increasing greatly year-on-year.


2. The growing personalisation of fitness
The fitness industry has also undergone a transformation, with searches for gyms and exercise rising by over 30% in the past three years. Fitness is constant evolution to make exercise fun and interesting, from emerging sports and competitions (such as Tough Mudder and CrossFit) to fusion art forms (such as piloxing, a merge of pilates and boxing). These sports have helped shift our perception of fitness, from simply a “chore” to get fit to becoming a “way of life”.


A key example of this is the continued rise of yoga, increasing by 25% in searches over the past three years. In recent years, we have seen yoga attract a broad following of genders and age groups, due to its diverse offering of mind, body and soul practices.

3. Promoting a fashionably fit lifestyle
As the desire to eat healthily and exercise regularly grows, so does the desire to look good whilst doing so. Online visits to sports apparel grew by 22% from 2014 to 2016, largely due to the rising popularity of two key segments: activewear (or athleisure) and fitness wearables.

In only a handful of years, yoga pants have become a fashion statement and lycra has replaced the weekend jeans. Smart and wearable technology and apps have also allowed consumers to increasingly take control over their health, wellbeing and fitness.

One such success story is Britain’s own activewear brand, Sweaty Betty. Over the years, Sweaty Betty has evolved from pure retail into a lifestyle brand, using digital technology such videos, blogs and social media to drive this transformation. For instance, clicks from social to Sweaty Betty’s website was 28% greater than the Sports & Fitness industry average, over the past year.


Clean Living is a lifestyle movement that has changed the UK incredibly in the last few years. Our desires to get healthy and live sustainably have become mainstream conversations.

The key lies in the ability to identify this target audience, current and / or potential within your brand, and understand their drivers and where they go online. These insights can help shape a range of sales and marketing initiatives, in order to capture and retain this growing segment in the UK.

Download the full report on Clean Living here.

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