By: Kent Bradley, M.D., M.B.A, M.P.H., Vice President, Medical Affairs Nutrition Education
By now, you probably have in mind a new type of training or cuisine you want to try. We often talk about fitness and nutrition trends, but is there such a thing as social support trend?
I’d like to think there is, and millennials are the heartbeat of it. This purpose-driven generation tends to care more about the environment and social responsibility.
This trend of people being more aware of their impact on the world is really an evolution based on significant experiences that have shaped an entire generation. Millennials are digital natives. They witnessed the economic hardships of 2008 and the Global War on Terrorism that began in 2001. Those factors seem to have crafted a generation that has a greater focus on self-care, wisdom in the crowd over authority, and a desire to simply make life better for themselves and others.
By 2025, millennials could represent up to 75% of the workforce. Can you imagine how this massive demographic shift will transform the world? In 2019, we will begin to spot some of these changes:
A study by Nielsen revealed that 73% of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand. But this goes well beyond sustainability or corporate social responsibility.
Concerns about farming practices, animal welfare, food safety supply chain ethics and accountability may likely shift our diets to be more plant-based. Roughly 26% of millennials identify as vegan or vegetarians.
Consumers are trying to be responsible citizens of the world, and they expect the same from corporations.
Social Influence on Nutrition and Health
Humans have always had a need to belong, to be a part of something. It is in our nature to be social; groups provide us with identity and a support system.
There is wisdom in the community: the crowd is wiser than any single participant, simply because it adds up everyone’s knowledge, experience, and information.
When it comes to health, fitness, and nutrition, consumers will look to their peers and networks for news, advice, and testimonials. Inspiring stories of weight loss, gains, and recovery will be stronger than any type of advertising.
This is apparent when we look at the internet and social media. Key opinion leaders are still valued but in different ways than before. They are valued for their input, rather than their degree or status. Authority is garnered by how you interact, contribute, and relate with the tribe – not your position of authority garnered by titles.
Take a look at influencers on Instagram and YouTube, who discuss workouts, recipes, diet success and body transformations. These stories inspire and give hope. Because of social learning, some people have taken a first step at attempting a healthier lifestyle.
Finally, because everything is connected, we are becoming less focused on winning at the expense of others.
Goals are set more in the context of evolving as a community. I call this “betterment.” In a more self-reflective way, there will be a push to connect our actions to a more inclusive goal of making life better for everyone.
We will see terms like “Individual Social Responsibility” take off. This encompasses two basic attitudes:
- Minimizing our negative impact on others
- The positive benefits we bring to society in general
This goes beyond volunteering. It includes our consumption decisions, vacation choices, and awareness of our environmental footprint.
Sure, we will still want to make life and health better for ourselves, but lavish lifestyles will become increasingly shunned by the crowd as it goes counter to the notion of betterment for all.