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3 simple messaging strategies

Esther Mills-Roberts
Communications Manager, Health Food Manufacturers’ Association

If there’s ever been a time when we’ve been bombarded with messaging, it’s been this past year. Briefings, studies, debates. It has sometimes felt like it’s either shock and awe or long drawn-out dialogues. As a result, more than a few are feeling information fatigued, and this is why we need to get our messaging right.

To do this, it’s vital to dig deep into consumer trends, perceptions and behaviours, and the HFMA’s new Health of the Nation 2021: Lockdown Focus survey does just that. So what can we learn?

The influence of family and friends as sources of information, and influencers of health product purchase has (contrary to what many of us might have presumed), become less. The Health of the Nation (HOTN) Survey has shown that 41.6% of people do their own online research, and 81% find it easy to discover the information they need. This is both good and bad in that consumers are exposed to credible information, but also to mis/disinformation.

Not surprisingly, information about immune health was most sought after, with vitamin D and vitamin C being the most popular new supplements taken, at 63% and 39% respectively.

The large influx of new immune health products and brands into the market reflects the clear opportunity for newcomers wanting to capitalise on natural health products and the opportunities this brings. And bringing it is. With 31% of all questioned saying they had taken new supplements this year, there’s been an expansion in the market both in size and into new age groups. The biggest spenders on health were those in age 25-34, and now 77% of 18-24 year olds have said that they take supplements.

So where do we go with this new information, and how can it shape our messaging to make it current and on trend?

1 Dual Demographics. For decades, females aged 55+ have dominated NPD, marketing plans and selling strategies. However, the HOTN research shows us that our ‘next generation’ has been pulled in by the digital shift during lockdown. Now, we must delve deep into their health aspirations and concerns, and reach out in ways that are engaging to them. We snooze, we lose. These are fast-paced consumers, needing dynamic content. And so we market to both, meeting each where ‘they’re at’.

2 Onliners to Footfallers. Thankfully, there’s been a resurgence in appreciation of local and fresh, people-centred customer care, things that no online experience can emulate. However, with the trend now set for online information seeking, there is value in directly showcasing to ‘onliners’. The HealthyDoesIt website is there to help engage your customers, and the campaigns are designed to pull people in from this digital arena into store. Look out for the May Digestive Health campaign, and get involved.

3 Community. Health stores win hands down when it comes to community, a listening ear, purposeful healthcare and respected information. Simple messages such as “we care”, “we listen” and “we understand” have won the day during the pandemic. In this respect, our industry is best placed to reach people online with this most endearing messaging, and then maintain it in ‘real life’ when footfall into store finally returns to pre-Covid levels.

Visit the HFMA website,, and look for the Health of the Nation section.

Then visit

Tel: 0208 481 7100
Email: [email protected]

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