For many consumers, it will be difficult to comprehend that 2022 has arrived, especially as they try to evaluate the events of the last 18 months and question how long the implications of the pandemic will last
The last couple of weeks is something that has highlighted the uncertainty that defines lives in the new normal, and with such swings from optimistic to pessimistic sentiment being something that can happen in a matter of weeks, it will be crucial that brands continue to be as responsive as possible to the evolving needs of the consumer.
FMCG Gurus has launched its Top Ten Trends for 2022 for industry players across the food, drink and supplement industry, forecasting what the major attitude and behavioural traits governing choice of product and brand will be.
Unsurprisingly, health continues to dominate consumer trends, especially with proactive and preventive approaches to well-being being taken as people look to minimise the risk of being ill or suffering serious health problems.
In addition, risk aversion will also be an influential factor during the next 12 months and beyond as people continue to question aspects of their lives that they previously took for granted and struggle to adjust to what appears to be now an endemic. Linked to this, sustainability will also be at the forefront of people’s thoughts, especially as they question the link with health.
Despite worries and cautiousness, consumers will continue to seek out indulgent and experimental products, both for reward and escapism purposes to deal with everyday stresses.
The Destination Health trend focuses on how consumers are taking a holistic approach to health and are actively looking to improve their mental and physical well-being, seeking out products and ingredients with active claims.
One integral part of this trend is that people are recognising the importance of emotional well-being and happiness and are looking to improve this, especially as it is something that has been heavily impacted during the last 18 months.
As well as a holistic approach to health, the Everyday Starts Now trend highlights how people will take a long-term approach to health maintenance as they look to stay fit and active until as late in life as possible, whilst recognising that current diets and lifestyles are not as healthy as they should be.
Consumers will actively research about health issues and ingredients, meaning that brands need to ensure nutritional information communicated is as simple as possible, whilst offering guidance to ensure people are not misdiagnosing themselves with issues.
Prevention versus Cure assesses how health goals are shifting towards a focus on disease management and proactive approaches to well-being, meaning that there is an interest in functional products that address health problems, even if people are not suffering from specific symptoms. Central to this, people are becoming more aware of the role that digestive health plays on overall health, which will become more noticeable as awareness of the microbiome grows.
Finally, the Technovate Me trend forecasts how, like many areas of life, consumers will turn to technology for new and innovative solutions to address health problems – creating new and exciting opportunities from a personalisation and customisation perspective.
In recent years, concerns towards the environment have intensified, with many feeling that the state of the planet is at a tipping point. This is a trend that will continue in 2022 and have a significant effect on purchasing habits. Path to Net Zero explores consumer concern towards carbon emission and levels of expectation they have in terms of brands addressing this issue.
The trend also addresses the issue of food waste, looking at how consumers are making active attempts to reverse rising landfills, the amount of discontent they have towards unnecessary waste at the industry level and opportunities that exist around upcycled ingredients.
The Plant for the Planet trend also looks at the continued growth of alternative dietary plans based around the avoidance and moderation of animal produce ... and the desire for products that are deemed to be green and clean, with streamlined ingredient lists and free-from claims a must for many.
This trend also examines the opportunities that exist around fortification within the plant-based market, especially as many recent converts to such diets worry that they are missing out on vital nutrients as a result (undermining overall efforts to lead a healthier diet).
Ultimately, brands will have to be seen to be taking a more proactive approach to protecting the planet before and highlighting sustainability initiatives along the whole of the supply chain.
Continued uncertainty means that risk aversion will also be a key theme in 2022 and, unfortunately for consumers, there is the reality that problems that existed before the pandemic will still be there when it (eventually) passes. The Peace of Mind trend is based on people looking to eliminate stress from their lifestyles and placing greater emphasis on trust and security.
Consumers want to know the story behind the products that they purchase and want packaging innovations that highlight the product has been kept safe and in optimal condition along the supply chain. Linked to this, there is also demand for shortened supply chains and locally produced products.
Increased levels of anxiety and poor sleep health also means that consumers are stepping back from daily pressures and reprioritising what is important to them, meaning there will be more focus on maximising personal relationships.
Reality Resumes explores the challenges that consumers will face as they look to adopt to what they deem a normal sense of life. For example, time-scarcity is something that will continue to be an issue, and something that governs dietary habits.
As will financial uncertainty in a tough economic climate and the desire for comfort products that offer moments of escapism.
One of the key implications to this is that barriers to healthy living with continue to exist, even in a time of heightened concern about well-being.
Despite the doom and gloom, taste and enjoyment will continue to be the main reasons why people turn to food and drink, and there will be demand for products that offer moments of indulgence and a genuine experience. Conscious Indulgence is a trend that looks at how people like to enjoy moments of hedonism and want a genuine experience from the products that they purchase.
It also explores how people are adopting a debit-and-credit approach to well-being. Indeed, whilst consumers want to improve their eating and drinking habits, they want to avoid feelings of compromise and sacrifice. As a result, they will look to lead a healthy diet most of the time, to justify the occasional moments of indulgence.
People will also look to adjust snacking habits so that treating occasions do not conflict with wider health goals, driving demand for products deemed to be guilt-free.
Finally, Dare to Change is based on how consumers are seeking out experimental flavours that challenge their sensory perceptions, often as a form of self-expression. Consumers will seek out premium and indulgent flavoors, wanting new and innovative taste experiences.
Storytelling and authenticity plays a key role in this trend, with consumers wanting to know the heritage and history behind products, partly as a sign that maximum care and attention has gone into the formulation of the project and partly because it is seen to add to the overall experience.