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IRI’s Health & Wellness Report Finds Major "Disease State" Opportunities as Baby Boomers Age

Within 10 Years, U.S. Healthcare Expenditures Will Nearly Double to $4.7 Trillion

CHICAGO, March 31, 2010
– Baby Boomers are getting older and are beginning to experience some of the aches and pains of aging, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes to name a few. More than any other generation before them, Boomers are educating themselves on how to manage these disease states, so there will be an increased demand for the pharmacy and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines as well as food and beverage products, which have better-for-you attributes that help treat these issues and ailments. According to the latest research from SymphonyIRI, “Healthcare III: Understanding the Age-Driven Health & Wellness Needs of Baby Boomers,” retailers and manufacturers that understand which ailments will be driving this growth and know how to link new and existing products to the treatment of these ailments will be in a position to capture more than their fair share of this enormous opportunity.

“Americans aged 55 and older represent more than one-third of the U.S. population,” says KK Davey, managing partner, SymphonyIRI Consulting & Innovation. “This number alone is quite staggering, and when you couple it with the fact that they control 50 percent of discretionary income and fill 30 percent more prescriptions than the average person, you have a golden opportunity. Retailers and manufacturers need to build shopper loyalty and a new competitive advantage around increased variety and in-store messaging that support categories, segments, and products with specific benefits that link to aged-driven health and wellness needs.”

“More and more aging consumers are searching for food and beverage solutions to help them maintain a quality of life in managing what are often multiple chronic disease states,” says Sean Seitzinger, partner, SymphonyIRI Consulting & Innovation. “In fact, two-thirds of disease-state shopper spending is earned by the grocery channel, which indicates grocery retailers have the largest disease-state management dollar opportunity during the next decade.”

The OTC, Food and Beverages Opportunity
For retailers and their manufacturer partners, understanding which ailments to focus on and which better-for-you product attributes are effective in serving these shoppers are critical first steps in building a disease state management platform. For example, surveyed shoppers across all ailments rank whole grains, reduced fat and reduced sodium as attributes they look for to manage their conditions.

The following provides insights into which better-for-you products and attributes are “top of mind” for ailment shoppers and how demand for these attributes translates into actual spending across categories:

  • High Blood Pressure: 87 percent of chronic sufferers depend heavily on prescriptions to treat their condition, but nearly 50 percent also focus on a healthy diet to manage and control their weight. They need to avoid high-sodium products, eat plenty of fiber and minimize high-fat, high-calorie products. Sugar-free diet candy, ground decaf coffee and sugar substitutes are popular products for these consumers.
  • Diabetes: These consumers manage and treat their serious health condition with a regular regimen of medication and a well-managed diet. They look to foods that are naturally high in fiber, protein and nutritional ingredients and avoid sugar-added foods and beverages and high-fat foods to control weight. Sugar-free chocolate candy, sugar substitutes, low-calorie soft drinks and single-serve dinner entrees that offer reduced calories and high protein appeal to these consumers.
  • High Cholesterol: 102 million chronic sufferers recognize that prescriptions can help reduce cholesterol levels but only in combination with a healthy diet. Since many high cholesterol sufferers have high blood pressure as well, there are frequent overlaps in how they treat their condition. Eating reduced-fat and low-cholesterol products are at the top of their list. 
  • Heartburn/Acid Reflux: 77 million chronic sufferers rely on prescription and recent prescription-to-OTC products to manage their ailment. Proper diet plays a smaller role, so antacid tablets, antacid liquid/powder and laxative tablets are sought-after products.

Shopper Perspectives
When shopping for food and beverages, more than 70 percent of shoppers indicate that affordability is a major barrier to purchasing healthier products more often. Nearly half also state that taste factors prevent them from maintaining a healthier diet.

In addition, more than 50 percent of shoppers also claim that food stores provide a good variety of healthy food, but they think retailers fall short in terms of helping them navigate the store to find these products. Shoppers surveyed said they want retailers to develop an on-shelf merchandising system that identifies products meeting specific health standards.

“Most shoppers give themselves high marks for making healthy food choices but perceive a lack of attention from both retailers and manufacturers,” adds Seitzinger. “Much of this dissatisfaction is aimed at misleading product health labeling and the lack of available products that are designed to manage specific health issues. Functional foods with specific health benefits represent a major opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers.”

Best-in-Class Case Studies
The Healthcare III report includes several best-in-class illustrations of how CPG manufacturers and retailers are winning more than their fare share of the growing disease state opportunity.  A couple of brief examples include:

  • Planters Nuts:    In 2003, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration began permitting certain types of snack nuts to make health claims around heart and digestive health. Kraft’s Planters brand seized this opportunity to develop a new line of snack nuts called NUT-rition. Today, the brand includes several varieties that link to specific preventative health and disease state benefits, including Heart Healthy Mix, Digestive Health Mix, Anti-Oxidant Mix, Omega 3 Mix, South Beach Diet Mix, and Energy Mix. 
  • Smart Balance: Since its single product introduction in 1996 when GFA Brands developed a trans-fat free margarine with a blend of natural vegetable oil, Smart Balance has resonated with shoppers seeking to improve/maintain heart health. Today, Smart Balance has become a successful mega brand by adding a number of “heart healthy” products in several key categories across the store, including peanut butter, popcorn, cooking oil, sour cream, cheese and milk.

About the Report
Findings presented in “Healthcare III: Understanding the Age-Driven Health & Wellness Needs of Baby Boomers,”  are based upon an extensive analysis of consumer information from the SymphonyIRI Consumer Network™, RxPulse® Patient Panel and InfoScan®. For more information about the report’s availability and pricing, please contact Sean Seitzinger at
SymphonyIRI Webinar: Leveraging Healthcare for Total Store Growth
SymphonyIRI is hosting a free webinar, entitled "Leveraging Healthcare for Total Store Growth," on April 7 at 12 p.m. CDT. To register for the webinar, hosted by consumer trends expert Sean Seitzinger, please visit:

About SymphonyIRI
SymphonyIRI, formerly named Information Resources, Inc. (“SymphonyIRI”), is the global leader in innovative solutions and services for driving revenue and profit growth in CPG, retail and healthcare companies.  SymphonyIRI offers two families of solutions: Core SymphonyIRI solutions for market measurement and Symphony Advantage solutions for enabling new growth opportunities in marketing, sales, shopper marketing and category management.  SymphonyIRI solutions uniquely combine content, analytics and technology to deliver maximum impact. SymphonyIRI helps companies create, plan and execute forward-looking, shopper-centric strategies across every level of the organization.  For more information, visit

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Shelley Hughes
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