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13.04.17 / A year of living social trends. Health reset: the foods we’re chomping

As part of our year living social trends, this month we are living the health reset. Food is the key element of this April/Easter, so we’ve dived into which foods the nation will be turning to once the Easter indulgence is done, and why they’re gaining in popularity.

Social is all about users projecting the best version of themselves, and while we all love to publish at the start of the year how our new diet or exercise routine is going, by March, just like our motivation, the volume declines. For instance, people posting about the gym have dropped by a quarter from the January average in March, and this decline is mirrored in search volumes on Google. However all is not lost, Easter sees a marked increase in search volumes and social media posts about health resets and diet changes.

Ingredients driving the conversation.

This year we have identified the healthy ingredients growing in discussion. These are Turmeric, Matcha and Cauliflower, (thankfully these are not all served together – that would be disgusting). Whilst the big health trend that has kept surging and shows no signs of slowing in 2017 is Veganism.

    • Turmeric: is so far this year’s hottest ingredient. Mentions of this Southeast Asian plant have nearly doubled from the same period last year on Twitter. Although not the largest conversation, the spike in search terms and increase in people talking about it means that this is an ingredient to watch in 2017. There was a huge spike in Google search terms in January that have dropped off slightly over the past two months – however searches for turmeric recipes have doubled since January, as well as searches for turmeric latte’s, demonstrating functional understanding is migrating to usage. Using Google correlate the top three most correlate searches are “what are the benefits?”, how much?” and “what is?” All of these highlight that for most people this is a relatively unknown ingredient that they are learning about. Its distant cousin ginger has been rising over the past few years, but, we do not see a significant seasonal spike in Easter (its usual spike is around the Xmas period instead).
    • Apple cider vinegar: one to watch, it has tripled in search volumes since January, however the size of the conversation is still very small on social, with only 600 tweets about the ingredient in the past 30 days.
    • Sweet potato: 2016 saw peak in posts about sweet potatoes, which we are yet to see matched in 2017 with mentions on twitter in decline. The volume of tweets last month was down 25% on 2016 levels. In the previous year, sweet potato also had 100% more searches compared to cauliflower, whereas this year it only had 25% more. So, whilst not growing it remains a significant health reset food for 2017.
    • Cauliflower: has seen somewhat of a renaissance in 2017. Although this trend started in 2016 it continues to accelerate and over January searches for this vegetable doubled, showing that old favourites do come back into fashion (I’m still waiting for mushy peas!)
    • Matcha: has seen its popularity rise markedly in 2016 and it continues to do so in 2017. The conversation about Matcha on Twitter has grown by 37% since last year and its searches for this ingredient are currently 40% higher than last year’s average.

What won’t we be eating this year?

The health food trends that have lost steam are drinks-based:

  • Coconut water: 2016 was the peak year, and heavily spring/summer-orientated historically. Currently volumes are only 40% of their 2016 levels
  • Green juices: has historically (and still does) seen a significant April/Easter surge, but 2015 was the high water mark.

Which diets are seeing surges?

Gluten-free continues to be an important part of heath conversation landscape, however it’s growth has definitely slowed. The volume of conversation has grown 5% from last year and search terms around gluten-free food has also slowed in 2017. Interestingly the gluten-free conversation peaks before Xmas. This is (probably) down to people searching for gluten-free recipes for gluten-free guests they may be hosting.

Veganism continues to grow through 2017 – we explored this in more detail in January. Most healthy food trends peak in this month as it’s when we all make our New Year’s resolution to be healthier. Veganism has already outperformed its January surge, in terms of search volumes and social postings about it are only slightly below this. The average number of tweets about veganism was 315 per day last year. In March this was up to 356 per day and people who were interested in vegan content grew to 3 million on Facebook this month. Expect to see Veganism to continue to rise throughout 2017.

Why does this matter?

We believe that by looking at how and why certain products generate traction on social media can offer valuable lessons for companies looking to generate a buzz around their product. The rise of Matcha as a health trend offers a real life example of this and provides companies with an example of how a relatively obscure ingredient can become a major health trend. This ingredient was covered by a Channel 4 documentary last year and subsequently saw its popularity explode. Search volumes increased by 4 times for the next week whilst post volumes about Matcha have increased by 33% from  2961 mentions on twitter to 3878. By adopting some of the strategies that worked well for matcha we believe any business can generate a buzz around their products.

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