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HEALTHY ACTIVES NEED MORE THAN COMMERCIALS

04.27.2011

With all the attention that is lavished on America's obesity epidemic, it's easy to forget the 77 million consumers who are currently maxing their workouts -- a group that tends to be older, affluent, and decidedly anti-advertising.

In a new report called "Understanding the Active Healthy Lifestyle," Williams-Helde Marketing Communications says the thread that runs through this large group membership -- whether they are 18 or 80 -- is a keen sense of personal responsibility. "These individuals are willing to take full responsibility for their decisions, their health, their actions and the outcomes of their experiences," the Seattle-based agency writes in its analysis.

"Their belief in personal accountability is expressed through their behavior: Actively gathering information before making decisions; waking up early to prepare healthy meals and work out; and living active social lives to stay balanced and happy. And in turn, it's these positive behaviors that lead to them being highly influential with other consumers."

But because this group puts such a high premium on researching things on their own -- they are 104% more likely to be heavy Internet users, for example -- they are also extremely skeptical of anything that seems manipulative. And they are simply hard to reach. While they like magazines and the Internet, they are less likely to watch TV or listen to the radio. In fact, they are often "blind to advertising messaging because they rely so heavily on their own information to make product decisions," the report says.

Interestingly, however, they tend to hold brands to a different standard than less active people, notes the agency, which works for such clients as Adidas and Verizon. "For example, if a running shoe doesn't work well," the report says, "it's because 'I have high arches' or because 'I have a wide stance,' not because it is a bad product."

The agency based its analysis on Mediamark numbers, crunching them to compare attitudes, behaviors, and media consumption; it defined "active" as working out at least twice a week, or having participated in any sport in the last year, and "healthy" as trying to eat well and be conscious of nutrition.
For the most part, the group tends to be middle-aged, with younger actives less likely to eat well, and older actives more likely to be driven by a particular set of health problems or concerns. For example, 64% of adults in the 45-to-54 age group fall into the healthy active category, "driven largely by the balance of physical activity and healthy eating." Actives -- in other words, the millions who work out but don't pay much attention to their diet -- peak in the 25-34 age group as the most active (78%), and 65-plus being the least (58%.) In healthy eating trends, however, the reverse is true: Among the 65-plus crowd, 89% are healthy eaters, while those in the 18-to-24 crowd are less so (70%.)

It's a group that tends to better-educated: 76% of people with college degrees fall into the category, as opposed to 53% who only graduated high school. Income also plays a big role, with 77% of those who make more than $200,000 a year pursuing an active healthy lifestyle -- 11% greater than the number who make between $75,000 and $100,000.

Men are 71.4% more active than women, while women are 44.8% more likely to eat well.
The analysis found that this group's sense of activity is much bigger than just exercise. For example, healthy-actives are 261% more likely to attend a music performance, 201% more likely to go out to bars or go dancing, and 195% more likely to entertain friends or relatives at home. They are also more socially active online, and are 41% more likely to use Facebook.

- Sarah Mahoney, MediaPost's "Marketing Daily" http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=149403

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