healthytrend header Trend: How Whole Foods and The Fun Theory Are Changing Our Health

Pop Culture Trend: Healthy Lifestyle
Trend Tags: Whole Foods, Nintendo, Wii Fit, The Biggest Loser, Trader Joe’s

By Tara Lane, Staff Writer

Marathon season is quickly approaching – have you strapped on your running shoes yet? Even if you’re not a fan of running, there’s no question that exercising and healthy living is a growing trend in the United States. As we try to rid ourselves of some not-so-flattering statistics, or are just working on some personal goals, signs of the healthy lifestyle movement can be found more and more.

From video games to grocery stores, it’s easier than ever to be a part of the trend – and you don’t even need a gym membership. Due to these stores and companies bringing the trend mainstream, more and more of us are taking part, and other brands are catching on.

The healthy lifestyle trend is about appealing to the customer in a creative way, not only creating new products, but calling them to action and bringing customers together on a whole new level. As a result, we’re seeing positive lifestyle changes and surprisingly, an impact on pop culture, too.

Key Elements

Making Healthy Fun - Have you seen the video circulating the Web about “The Fun Theory?” In it, a group of people transform a set of stairs at a Swedish subway station into a flight of keys – when anyone steps on them, it sounds like a piano being played. The idea is that more people would take the stairs if it were more fun to do.

Admittedly, the reason most people don’t exercise or work out is because they don’t find it fun or enjoyable. That all changed when Wii Fit came out last year, and quickly became one of the highest selling video games of 2009. The program was more than a video game – it required people to work, but still made it fun by using a different medium, and helping people workout in ways they’d never done before. The system helped its users track progress and developed better habits, providing a multi-functional system, which created greater value than a treadmill.

Power of Community – The two most recognized natural food grocery stores, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, have an almost cult-like following. Not only do these stores provide food that people want, they provide outstanding service and deliver an experience that keeps customers coming back for more. Even if someone hasn’t shopped there before, chances are they want to.

Trader Joe’s laidback company and in-store atmosphere puts customers at ease, and their low prices keep everyone happy. Whole Foods has publicly committed itself to many causes which appeal to its customer base, such as eliminating plastic bags and the humane treatment of animals from which it gets its products. Whole Foods is active Twitter and Facebook, where they connect to customers even more. It’s no wonder that both companies are high on the list of Gen Y’s most trusted brands. By staying open and honest with customers, they have created that sense of connection and community people are always searching for.

Key Statistics

  • In Amazon’s bestsellers in the Health, Mind and Body section, seven of the top 20 are healthy lifestyle cookbooks – two are written by celebrities.
  • Whole Foods currently ranks third on the EPA’s list of Green Power Partners.
  • The Biggest Loser consistently ranks in the top 3 shows during its two-hour time slot. The show also engages its audience with its Pound for Pound Challenge, and donates proceeds to the Feeding America charity.
  • ACNielsen reports that healthy eating is the fastest growing global market trend.
  • Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers both have iPhone applications to help followers on-the-go
  • A February Nielsen report showed that 9 percent of U.S. consumers have cut down on smoking, and 14 percent have cut down on drinking alcohol.

Take Away

Although a single video game or health food product won’t transform our health entirely, the growing popularity of each signals that this trend isn’t slowing down anytime soon. In addition to the Wii Fit, other gaming systems will try to compete and deliver their own versions, perhaps even more advanced than the current one.

Restaurants will start catering to this trend, offering healthier options, and striving to use better ingredients. More and more people are concerned about what goes into their body, and restaurants are responding to them. Expect to see more advertising geared to towards healthy dishes, as well as new restaurants catering to the organic and local food movements.

Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be all about food and games, however. Last year, members from both political parties participated in the “Walking Works” challenge on Capitol Hill, where staffers, interns and representatives tracked their steps with pedometers. Making something fun, worthwhile, and noteworthy is what will attract positive attention – and hopefully customers – in the end.

Read all of the 2009 Pop Culture Trends

Image by Zsuzsanna Kilián from Stock.Xchng