Clean Living 2017: Australian Market

Clean Living 2017: Australian Market

The movement that has previously been poked fun at, is growing before our very eyes.

Flashback to pre 2010. Gluten Free foods were for those poor souls who couldn’t eat a meat pie, vegetarians were hippies or rebellious teenagers, and the words ‘paleo’, ‘quinoa’ and ‘chia seeds’ didn’t exist in the majority of Australian’s vocabulary. The core exercise routine for many was team sports or a run at lunch and the only way you knew how far you had run was by guessing the distance. But now, you won’t go a single day without being exposed to organic superfoods, groups participating in yoga-lates outdoors or those literally tracking their every step on social media.

Clean Living has exploded in Australia. It’s now one of the fastest growing industries and continues to grow year on year. It has changed the way many of us eat, dress and exercise, it’s also become a huge money making industry. But is it a fad, or is it here to stay?

Is it a desire or need to change or just the impact on social media?

Whether it’s a lifestyle choice or because it’s the hot new trend, the Clean Living industry has infiltrated Australian’s lives like no other. From green juices to ‘air-yoga’, to technology that pushes you further when you exercise, it’s gone from being something ‘posh’ people participated in, to being the norm for everyday Australian’s. Clean Living is now a multi-billion dollar business in Australia, with organic food sales being the biggest contributor to this growth. Organic food sales are expected to grow by 5.6% to reach almost $1.8 billion in 2018, according to Australian Organic.

Another category of green living which has seen a strong year on year growth are fitness and health clubs which has also been predicted to bring in $2 billion dollars by 2018/2019, according to Ibisworld.

AU Clean Living: Major Categories
^Audiences based on Search behavour across a 12-week period, from December 2016 – 2017 cpmpared to previous year.

In this report, we use Hitwise data to analyse the most significant trend in recent years, and review how retailers and companies have evolved with this lifestyle change.

1. Eat

Online searches for “nutrition” have risen by a significant 70% from 2014 to 2016. As our interest in eating healthily grows, how has our behaviour changed over the years? What is leading this huge growth?
In this section, we highlight foods and diets that are becoming increasingly mainstream, and explore how food retailers and supermarkets are adapting to the trend of clean eating.

“Fads” vs. “trends”

We’ve all known of or tried the latest diet fads (Atkins anyone?), but most are short lived. But what makes a diet stick around and how can you determine if it’s here to stay, or will be laughed about next year? Tracking consumer interest is key.

Taking a look at some of the most common diet searches, most are seeing a strong growth increase since 2014; “detox” saw an increase of 27%, “gluten free” saw an increase of 85%, and “sugar free” saw an increase of 80%. But the diet which is seeing phenomenal growth is “vegan”, with a huge 217% growth since 2014.

AU Clean Living: Diet Searches

However, there are some diets which are starting to lose their shine. Since 2014, “paleo” has seen a steady decrease, dropping 22%. This could be due to the negative press surrounding Paleo guru, Pete Evans and his position on vaccinations. When it comes to dieting, people want to align themselves with personalities they aspire to be. This negative backlash on Pete Evans lifestyle choices are impacting more than just his brand.

Whilst “dairy free” has seen a slight decrease since 2015 (-8%) it’s not statistically drastic enough to warrant writing this ‘diet’ off. The next 12 months will be the decider.

Time of Year

Analysing this data throughout the year can also help determine whether a diet is a fad, has a future, or relies on seasons to flourish. As showcased in the results, many people start the year with good intentions of eating well or getting in shape, but drop away as we get deep into the year.

AU Clean Living: Searches by Month

Interest picks up again once summer starts to loom in the distance and people want to be beach ready.

It also showcases that the main diet trend to look out for this year is vegan, which between December 2016 and January 2017, saw an increase of 28%.


There can’t be an analysis of diets without mentioning the term “superfood”. It’s the new buzz word in clean living and anyone who’s anyone within this industry will drop it when they can.

Interest around “superfoods” are on the rise, with a 64% increase since 2015. This is being led by the rise of healthy eating, consciousness on the consumer’s mind about positive eating, and a desire to (quickly) increase their daily nutritional intake through one impactful vegetable or seed! But what are the “superfoods” of choice?

AU Clean Living: Superfoods

Well, not only does Avocado take top spot as the most expensive superfood (smashed avo anyone?), but it’s also the top “superfood” over the past three years with a growth of 114%!

Another superfood to see significant growth since 2014 is Acai (+110%) Almond milk (+107%) and Goji berries (+101%).

Ready-made and Subscription Boxes

Eating a wide array of superfoods has become a lot more accessible to the consumer with the rise of subscription food boxes, with the inspiration being driven by social media health gurus such as Sarah Wilson (‘I Quit Sugar’) and the dynamic sister duo of Sally Obermeder and Maha Koraiem (Super Green Smoothies).

AU Clean Living: Ready-made Meals

On average, searches for ready-made meals have grown by 15% since 2015. Kombu Wholefoods saw incredible growth in Q1 2017, increasing by 35%. Lite n’ Easy, the most popular ready-made meal brand, also saw a strong growth of 18% during the same quarter.

How are supermarkets capitalising on healthy eating?

This phenomenal growth of ready-made meals has led to supermarkets jumping onto the healthy eating bandwagon by releasing their own line of organic products, such as Woolworths and its Macro brand. Woolworths purchased Macro Wholefoods in 2014 and this decision has been instrumental in it now being the preferred supermarket for the health food conscious consumers of Australia.

AU Clean Living: Supermarkets

All supermarkets have seen growth since Q4 2015 but a major shift occurred in Q4 2016, which saw all supermarkets almost double in size for this consumer group in 12 months and it looks like 2017 is heading the same way.

Healthy eating isn’t just a fad or only for young women on social media. It’s now a major multi-million-dollar industry reaching all demographics, across Australia. The consumer shift in this area is significant enough that brands should be having the discussion on whether they want to be part of this fast moving industry, perhaps over a kale and spinach juice.

2. Move

Whether it’s the pressure from social media or a desire to improve one’s lifestyle, Australian’s are exercising more than ever before. The fitness industry, in particular gyms, has undergone a major makeover in the past 10 years. A gym is no longer a place where people go to pump iron.
It’s also become a place for people of all ages to meditate, practice yoga, dance, eat, sleep, grab a massage, do a defense class, swim, do weights – it’s become a full blown health and wellness club. The Australian gym and fitness industry is now worth $2 billion dollars, according to the IBISWorld Gym & Fitness Centres in Australia Report. Fitness/gym activities are now the second most participated in sport and recreation by Australians (behind walking for exercise), according to a Profile of the Fitness Industry 2016 report from Fitness Australia.

Evolution of Gyms

Gyms are in constant evolution to make exercise interesting to keep customers engaged. Like diets, Australian’s love to start the year with an exercise plan, but by March when the mornings get darker and cooler, the lure of a sleep-in starts to win.

Or does it?

AU Clean Living: Gyms

The month of January see’s the highest amount of online traffic to Gym and Fitness centres, with January 2017 seeing a 35% growth from December 2016. As predicted, interest drops back down in February. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they aren’t going to the gym, as they could sign up in January and no longer need to visit the website, but it most certainly backs up the argument that January is the month Aussies try to have a change of lifestyle!

More choice equals something for everyone

Bad back? Try pool-ates (like land Pilates, but in a pool). Bad posture? Try aerial yoga. Increase fitness quickly? Try Body Attack. Like parts of yoga and parts of Pilates? Try Yoga-lates. Whatever your issue or need, there’s a class you can take, and if there’s not one, wait a month as it will most likely come out! One of the most popular forms of exercise in January 2017, was yoga.

AU Clean Living: Yoga

Since January 2015, interest in yoga has grown by a staggering 73% and with over 10 different varieties of yoga, it’s no surprise why. What has led to this incredible growth? The perception of awareness of yoga has changed. It used to be perceived as a bit ‘hippie’, more for the mind than the body, but over the past 2 years the attitude towards yoga has changed positively. Whether it’s strengthening mind, body or soul – yoga is now very much mainstream.

Because of this change in attitude, yoga has seen a new wave of enthusiasts come through. In the past 2 years, the amount of yoga searches made by men has doubled – an increase of 116%. But yoga isn’t just becoming trendy for males. Of those searching for yoga online, 23% are aged 18-24, up from 18% in 2015. The other age group to see a strong shift are those 35-44, going from 17% in 2015 to 24% in 2017.

“Challenge” styled exercise goes mainstream

Yoga is not the only exercise to have been catapulted into mainstream exercise. “Challenge” sport has erupted into the exercise market in the past few years.

Gone are the days of it only being for the fitness elite, “challenge” sports are now attractive to a wide range of audiences! “Give it a go” is definitely the right motto for this exercise!

AU Clean Living: Exercise Challenges
Supplements and Powders

When it comes to Challenge Sports, fueling your body before, during and after exercise is vital. So it makes sense that when Challenge Sport grows, so does the interest in Supplements and Powders!

AU Clean Living: Supplements

Since January 2015, Supplements have seen a growth of 86%, Protein Powders a growth of 113% and Protein Balls, in particular ‘make your own’, have grown the most with 138%.

AU Clean Living: Supplements Searches
How brands have capitalised on the fitness movement

With such huge success in the Challenge Sports industry over the past few years, it’s no surprise that many brands have jumped on board and capitalised on this new trend. Brand and sport partnerships are becoming more lucrative and in demand. In highlighting consumer’s trends and demands, fitness clubs such as Virgin Active have shaken up the gym industry by offering more than weights and cycle classes.

With the popularity of Tough Mudder, Virgin Active took up sponsorship of the event and promote ‘Tough Mudder training classes’. Retail brands have also developed products specifically for challenge sports, such as Timex’s full collection of Ironman watches (which recently celebrated their 30-year anniversary).

3. Wear

In this section, we take a look at brands that have propelled the concept of a “fashionably fit lifestyle” into the mainstream. These brands create products and fashion to integrate fitness into their everyday life.

Whether it be from the rise of yoga-lates, Tough Mudder or general exercise, sport retail is an industry to watch. Online visits to this category have seen incredible growth in the past 2 years, increasing by 20%. A main contributor to the increase has been startup sports fashion brands such as Style Runner, Running Bare and The WOD, who have seen a collective growth of 30% just in the past 12 months.

These brands have made sporting wear so stylish, that it’s now completely acceptable to wear lycra to breakfast, without even exercising. But it isn’t just the new players leading this growth. Iconic sports fashion brands such as Nike and Adidas have held their ground, both growing by over 70% in the past 2 years.

Sporting products were also among the largest growing industries in the online sales events last year (Click Frenzy, Black Friday and Cyber Monday). Fitness wearables are a new, but very popular addition to the sports industry.

AU Clean Living: Searches for Activewear
Based on search behaviour across a 12-week period of December to February, compared to the equivalent 12-week period in 2015.

Between the rise of social media, fashionable sportswear and fitness wearables, promoting your active lifestyle has never been easier or sexier. Activewear is not only about comfort and functionality, but now also about style.


If you didn’t think there were enough made up words in Clean Living, here’s another one! “Atheleisure” is purely focused on the “fashionably fit” consumers. You know the ones. They Instagram every lunge, downward dog or green juice post walk! Major brands such as Nike, H&M, Topshop and Cotton On have clued in and expanded their active wear range to include exclusive lines tailored to the fashionably fit.

Brands such as Lululemon, Lorna Jane and Fabletics have built their brand purely on accommodating these consumers and it’s worked! Stylerunner is a one stop shop for all of these brands and it’s a brand to watch closely.

Stylerunner: A Marriage Between Fashion and fitness

1. About the brand
Style Runner launched in Australia in 2012 and it’s now one of the top retail destinations for active and sportswear. It started out as an online only store, but in September 2016 it opened its first concept store in Sydney. Stylerunner sells over 40 different sports brands and ships to over 100 countries internationally.

2. The key to Sylerunner’s success
Stylerunner saw a hole in the Australian market and acted on it. There wasn’t one central place to get great quality and fun or stylish activewear. Since launching, a lot of their growth has been driven by their social media channels (their Instagram followers now sit at 520,000). 15% of all clicks to Stylerunner’s website were from their social media channels, well above the sports retail industry average of 3.5% (based on December 2016 Clickstream data).

3. Stylerunner’s audience
Young mothers and professional women from affluent households constitute the largest portion of Stylerunner’s online audience. However, over time, Stylerunner is broadening its reach across ages, with an increase in women 35-54 showing a stronger interest in the brand.

Wearable Technology

From a term that was almost non-existent a decade ago, “fitness trackers” have become a common household product. From specialist brands like Garmin and Misfit to smartwatches by Apple and Samsung, there are options for every consumer. Even high-end labels such as Michael Kors and Tory Burch, have released their version of “smart jewellery”.

Fitbit: Revolutionising trackable health and fitness

1. About the brand
Founded in 2007, Fitbit revolutionised the wearable technology industry. Over the years, it evolved from a step and calorie counter to a multi-feature device with guided breathing, fitness plans and sleep quality monitoring.

2. The key to Fitbit’s success
Fitbit has been able to sustain its appeal year on year, despite growing competition. Searches for “fitbit” or “fit bit” have increased by 60% since 2015, with most of the interest growth occurring between 2015 and 2016. Between 2016 and 2017, there was 15% interest growth, slightly slowing from the previous year, but still remaining very positive.

3. The Fitbit audience
Fitbits attracts a diverse set of customers but the largest segment are those aged 25-34. Males and females are equally attracted to it, but the one area where it stands out, is wealth. Fitbits are more popular with affluent Australian’s (those with a household income of $100k+ index 37 times more likely than the general online population to be a Fitbit customer).

Key Takeaways

This movement offers incredible opportunities for brands willing to understand the needs of the Clean Living consumer. This is no longer a ‘fad’ but a new lifestyle which we only see growing. Here are some tips based on our findings:

Market to trends over fads
Consumers are less interested in crash diets and detoxes, instead craving real, lasting solutions for bettering their lives. Brands should focus on identifying the short-lived fads vs. consistent trends, and align themselves with stable trends for long-term success.

Feed consumer desire for clarity and information
Modern consumers care more deeply than ever about “real” food, effective workouts and making authentic choices that are better for them and the planet. Support their discovery and growth by providing helpful and trustworthy information. Whilst celebrity endorsements are good, they also carry big risks if the celebrity’s lifestyle goes a little too far into ‘clean living’ (Pete Evans and his belief of anti-vaccination for example).

Tap into the movement with smart partnerships
Meet consumers where they are. Social media and influencer engagement can help you connect with passionate health-driven communities. Consider partnering with brands who are already reaching this audience, in a way that will be beneficial to everyone.

Clean Living is a billion-dollar industry. Some brands have capitalised on this growing fitness movement, while others are struggling to catch up. The key lies in the ability to identify target audiences and understand what makes them tick. These insights can help shape sales and marketing initiatives, in order to capture and retain this growing segment.

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