At Daymon, there's a long history of making corporate wellness a priority across our global teams. However, in 2016, the company took it one step further by creating an educational wellness class custom built for our employees.
The goal of Daymon's Wellness Expert Training Course is to not only encourage growth for our team members, but to arm them with the knowledge to successfully lead our retailer and brand clients to excellence. Through off-sites and distance learning sessions, we are building a team of 46 internal wellness experts in the company's different business units all around the world.
The involved associates come from various levels and assorted departments, but have a shared interest in learning more about the health and wellness space. We designed the 12-month development program, which launched in November 2016, to teach associates about the latest in the organic, natural and clean label products from the perspective of consumers, retailers and producers.
The program was entirely voluntary and we were happy to see such a great turnout in its inaugural year. Last month, the associates and I attended Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, California. Expo West is the world's largest natural and organic products tradeshow, with 3,000 exhibitors from around the world and around 80,000 attendees.
I knew this would be a great opportunity for the associates to immerse themselves in the world of wellness. During the first day of the show, we divided the associates into six groups, each given a theme that had to do with a trend in the wellness space.
The assignment was for each group to report back their findings on their specific theme at the end of their show exploration. This would give them perspective and focus, and would also lead to learning some of today's most impactful health trends.
Group 1: Plant-Based Proteins
There are more and more food products that use plant proteins such as beans and peas.
- Plant-based dyes were quite popular, using the color power of plants like spirulina
- Matcha was a hot item, used in teas and other products
- Plant-based protein powders were everywhere, and used peas and hemp as their base
- Even well-known brands like Burt's Bees were expanding into this new area, introducing a plant-based protein powder
- One associate expressed her delight at the trend of using real, crystallized roses and other flowers as toppers for baked goods
Group 2: Probiotics
Consumer perception has changed surrounding the discussion of digestive issues, so what products have been born out of this new conversation?
- Atrantil was one product highlighted by Group 2 in their report, due to its claims that it moves gut flora down the intestinal tract to the lower intestine, proving more effective than regular probiotics
- Black Living Water was highlighted by an associate who enjoyed finding a probiotic product that wasn't yogurt or kombucha
- Progurt is a company that provides kits that will allow yourself or your family to make probiotic products at home
- Apple Cider Vinegar was a big star at Expo West, and one associate remarked that this mirrored a surge in popularity of drinking vinegar in Taiwan
- Probiotics for pets was also a noticeable trend
- Probiotic skin care products that replace the beneficial microorganisms on the skin
Group 3: Transparency
This group was challenged to find examples of authentic brand storytelling, and there were many examples to choose from.
- The group remarked that it seemed easier for food products to tell their stories, but much harder for health and beauty products to do the same
- For companies selling teff (an ancient grain) products, certain brands offered to supply information on specific bags and where they came from
- The A2 Milk Company from Australia was highlighted as having an incredible story about their A2 cows and overall mission, but the group felt that it could have been told in much bolder, more effective way
- The Epic brand was also applauded for having strong storytelling and a clear mission statement: "By looking to the diets and lifestyles of our ancestors, we believe that evolution has much to teach us about human optimization and healthful living."
Group 4: Ancient Wisdom
Food is medicine, and more consumers are looking to use it in this way. How is this trend showing itself in today's products?
- Ancient grains had much of the show spotlight at Expo West, and companies focused on the packaging and "convenience" of these grains so consumers can make them easily and while on-the-go
- Turmeric seemed to be in most products, including pastas and soups
- One associate discovered charcoal-activated toothpaste that turns toothbrushes black but makes teeth white
- Many products used the term "ancient" in their marketing to create positive messaging
- Millet and sorghum were two ancient grains that were used in foods like "millet tots," similar in taste and texture to tater tots
Group 5: Sustainability
This group was asked to look at many facets that fall under the sustainability umbrella, including social equity, fair trade, climate impact, and using the whole animal, plant or farm.
- The term "biodynamic" was popular, introducing the concept of biodynamic farming where there are no pesticides, herbicides or other toxic ingredients used, and the farm is viewed as a living being that should be self-sufficient
- Many products were created from the "waste" of other products, supporting the thought that even scraps can be valuable
- "Veganic" agriculture was a new phrase, in the same vein as "biodynamic," described as a way of farming where no animal inputs are used in the soil
Group 6: Nature Knows Best
Mother Nature is always the expert when it comes to health and wellness!
- Associates noted that saying a product was "junk-free" was a new marketing message they had not previously noticed
- Vital proteins were in vogue, specifically in the many bone broth-based products
- Many foods had been packaged in a DIY structure, including tofu
- Himalayan Salt was getting a lot of attention, a natural source of seasoning
- There was also a large group discussion about the term "natural" and what it means in Europe opposed to the more relaxed definition in the United States
The team did a great job of sifting through all of the content at the conference to identify the key trends in each focus area, and learned a lot in the process! Christopher Lovekin, Junior Analyst, said, "My favorite part of the show is seeing the evolution of organic and natural products, and finding out what exactly goes into these products and watching how many new ideas are popping up."
Seeing the associates get excited about an industry they were unfamiliar with just five months ago is extremely rewarding. I'm very proud of the program's success so far and look forward to the next session!
About the Author
Carl Jorgensen is the Director of Global Thought Leadership-Wellness at Daymon. In this role, Carl brings over 30 years of experience to provide guidance on global consumer wellness trends, including Organic and non-GMO issues, throughout the enterprise and to the company's key retailer customers, manufacturer partners and consulting clients.