The obesity crisis may still be hitting the headlines, but that does not mean that the Irish have given up on exercise and nutrition. Nearly two thirds (65%) of Irish adults claim to exercise at least once a week, while the popularity of nutritionally-enhanced foods continues to grow – with protein bars in particular appealing to health-conscious consumers.
This is according to Empathy Research, which conducted a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+ (n=1,002) on behalf of Checkout to understand how retailers need to cater to a more active Ireland.
While it may seem that food and fitness supplements are omnipresent, we have in no way reached a ceiling. With only 21% of Ireland’s exercisers claiming to take supplements of any form, there is room for growth.
Protein is the nutritional buzzword of the moment, and is also the most taken supplement, although primarily in shake or soluble form (57%), with coffee (26%) and protein bars (23%) coming in at second and third place respectively.
87% of all adults claim to have seen protein bars or similar available for purchase in grocery stores, while 35% of this group have purchased one. Unsurprisingly, purchase levels are highest amongst those who exercise more regularly, with 48% of those who exercise 4-6 times per week having bought a protein bar.
However, a further 16% of those who claim to never exercise have also bought a protein bar at some stage in the past, suggesting that the market is not limited to fitness-fanatics.
For nearly half of all respondents, the key selling point for protein bars is that they are a convenient way to meet protein needs on the go. For 1 in 8 adults (12%) protein bars allow them to keep better control of their diet than they could previously.
Amongst those who have not purchased protein bars to date, 18% claim they see themselves doing so in the future, spurred on by a desire to eat healthier (38%) or a new training regime in the offing (29%).
While there is a significant level of purchase of protein bars currently being experienced in the market, combined with a sizeable proportion of intended future purchase, there is still work to do to convince all of the benefits. Almost 6 in 10 (58%) claim they are concerned about what is actually in protein bars, with a quarter (25%) claiming that they feel protein bars aren’t of any real benefit at all.
For further information and more in-depth analysis on the usage and attitudes of shoppers towards protein bars, please contact Robbie Clarke at Empathy Research.
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