As the hopeful road to recovery begins, the food, drink, and supplement industry finds itself at a crossroads. On one hand, the long-lasting effects of the impact of COVID-19 will continue to linger which, when combined with concern over the state of the economy, is something that will negatively impact on consumer sentiment. However on the other hand, consumers are feeling optimistic that the worst of the virus is over and 2021 will see a return to normality. This and demand for products that align with continuously evolving need states is something that will create the opportunity for continued innovation within the industry. Over the next twelve months, consumers will continue to demonstrate a variety of need states around issues such as health, safety and security, the environment, value for money and the desire for indulgence. On one hand, consumers will be incredibly risk averse as they question the safety and value of things that they previously took for granted. On the other hand, consumers will continue to be experimental and seek out new products that challenge their sensory perceptions and offer new experiences. The key for industry players is ensuring that they understand these evolving need states and respond to them accordingly.
With this in mind, FMCG Gurus has launched its Top Ten Trends for 2021. These trends can be broadly split into three areas: Health and Wellness, Safety and Assurance and Taste & Enjoyment
Concern over health and wellness is not a new theme within the food, drink, and supplement market. After all, lifestyle-related health problems continue to rise despite consumers saying that they are trying to lead a healthier lifestyle. This shows that ultimately, diet and exercise plans are not working, something that will be an issue for consumers. However, the events of 2020 have magnified concerns about health as consumers question their vulnerability to disease and illness, even those who previously deemed themselves healthy. As a result of this, FMCG Gurus expects four health-related trends to be prominent from an attitude and behavior perspective over the next twelve months. The Proactive Living trend will result in consumers adopting a prevention over cure approach to health and wanting to make changes to their diets and lifestyles to minimize the risk of illness. This trend will see consumers engaging in activities such as trying to detox and abstain from certain products and categories. The Rediscovering Health trend will also result in consumers taking a more proactive approach to managing their physical, mental and immune health, seeking out functional ingredients that offer health boosting benefits. Like any aspect of 21st century living, consumers will want technology to help facilitate their health goals. The Menu for Me trend focuses on how consumers are seeking out more personalized and customized health solutions. Whilst consumers are willing to pay a premium for options such as nutrition genetic testing, it is crucial that the industry recognizes challenges that exist around ethics and safety. Whilst consumers will be more health focused, it is important to recognize that consumers will not be health conscious 24/7. The Better for You, Not Best for You trend focuses on how consumers adopt a debit and credit approach to health living and how consumers justifying healthy eating and drinking to enjoy the occasional indulgence where little-to-no attention is paid to nutritional value.
The impact of 2020 has made consumers more risk averse, as they become more conscious about a variety of issues such as the state of the economy, food safety, and the wider environment. This is resulting in consumers wanting more trust and transparency and reassurance than ever before – something that will be paramount in shaping perceptions of value for money. This is something that will resonate in consumer attitudes and behaviors in four trends. The Safe and Secure trend will result in consumers wanting more transparency from brands than ever before, especially as they are less inclined to believe that some brands have their best interests at heart. As such, consumers want brands to demonstrate traits such as honesty, kindness, and compassion. Consumers will also become more conscious about the environment, something that will manifest in the Earth is Clear trend. Indeed, consumers are concerned that damage done to the environment is irreversible and that the state of the environment is something that has accelerated the impact of coronavirus. As a result, consumers will continue to take a more proactive and collective approach to sustainable living. Linked to this, the Power of Plants trend will result in consumers seeking out plant-based alternatives in categories such as food, drink, and supplements. Consumers attach something of a halo to plant-based products deeming them to be healthier and more sustainable. Such products also appeal to those consumers who have become more conscious about animal welfare and food safety issues. Finally, risk aversion will also drive the Natural and Pure trend. This trend relates to consumers being more attentive to the ingredients used in products than ever before. Consumers will place greater emphasis on products being real and authentic, wanting streamlined ingredient lists, to avoid chemicals, and transparency over production techniques.
Finally, consumers will continue to want to enjoy new experiences in 2021 and beyond. This is true even when it comes to everyday products. Consumers want their sensory perceptions challenged. This is something that will drive consumer attitudes and behaviors in two ways. The Taste First, Think Second trend examines how consumers will continue to seek out new, unusual and exotic flavors from around the world, often as a form of self-expression believing such products reflect their taste and sophistication. When launching products to target such occasions, story-based marketing around heritage and production will appeal to consumers to add a degree of authenticity. The second trend is Eating Out, Dining In. Over the last twelve months, the foodservice sector has been badly impacted as a result of the virus, however as signs of recovery show, consumers will want foodservice outlets to innovate to get them back on to the high street. At the other end of the spectrum, continued concerns about mass gatherings is something that will drive demand for products that help replicate out-of-home experiences at-home. Consumers will increasingly seek out premium products within the retail channel, as well as products that encourage socializing and sharing as consumers look to maximize personal relations.
The key message for industry players in 2021 and beyond is that consumer attitudes and behavior will be governed by uncertainty. Consumers are cautiously optimistic that the negativity around the last year is something that will end in the next year and consumers can get back to their old lives. At the same time, they will continue to be concerned about issues such as the risk of new waves of the virus and additionally, the impact that the virus has had on the economy. As such, it is crucial that brands understand consumer needs and wants and are responsive to them in a transparent and value-orientated way. Indeed, brand heritage and identity alone will not be enough for many brands to sustain and grow sales and instead, responsiveness to continuously evolving consumer needs will prove crucial.