LONDON — Feeling good is now more important than looking good. A new study by marketing intelligence firm Euromonitor revealed that when it comes to health, consumers have shifted their focus away from physical ailments and toward a more holistic approach that includes mental and emotional well-being.

Euromonitor surveyed 20,000 consumers in 20 core markets around the world to better understand changing attitudes toward health and nutrition. The top criteria for being healthy wasn’t fitness, endurance or avoiding illness but mental well-being.

Respondents identified stress and anxiety as the biggest threat to mental and emotional health. Thirty per cent of consumers in the United States said they are taking active measures to treat the issue. Rather than seeking treatment through over-the-counter medicines, however, many consumers have started to find relief through dietary changes and a more active lifestyle. Products that feature perceived calming ingredients, like green tea extract used for relaxation, are likely to do well with consumers seeking to improve their mental health, the study found.

Consumers aren’t just looking for products positioned behind a specific benefit. They also are concentrating on feeling good by adopting a more balanced diet and seeking more traditional ways of eating, according to the survey.  

The study found that consumers who do not follow strict dietary restrictions like veganism on a regular basis have begun incorporating more dairy-free, raw or vegan products in their diets. Amrutha Shridhar, a research consultant at Euromonitor, said this presents an opportunity for companies with products geared toward specific dietary restrictions.

“Companies and brands who produce products aimed at specific dietary restrictions such as veganism should not limit their sales and marketing strategy solely to vegan consumers,” Ms. Shridhar said. “Instead they should broaden their targeted audience to include both vegan consumers and the average consumer who is seeking to incorporate vegan products as part of their balanced diet.”

When it comes to limiting certain foods, more consumers were found to follow a low sugar diet than any other type of dietary restriction. In addition to medical factors such as weight management or doctor recommendations, feeling good was one of the primary motivators for reducing sugar intake.

“This goes side-by-side with the holistic approach consumers are taking when it comes to their health,” Ms. Shridhar said. “Brands and companies producing low-sugar products should highlight the medical benefits as well as contributions to overall wellness.”

Consumers’ focus on eating a balanced diet is about more than personal well-being. In addition to eating their way to health and happiness, consumers are looking to eat their way to a better world.

According to the report, environmental, animal welfare and community engagement were among the primary reasons consumers sought out locally sourced, organic and fair-trade features.

Ms. Shridhar said this presents companies with an opportunity to connect with consumers by highlighting their support for global issues.

“As consumers are shifting their focus toward a more holistic approach to health care, brands and companies need to ensure that they are looking at their products and services with the same view,” Ms. Shridhar said. “Therefore, it is important that brands and companies look beyond their immediate competitors and product categories as disruption within health and nutrition industries continues.”