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FMCG Gurus: Top Ten Trends for 2021

28 December 2020


Every year, FMCG Gurus launches its Top Ten Trends for the year. In 2020, our top trends focused on a variety of areas but ultimately fell into three areas of health and wellness, trust and transparency, and experience and enjoyment. Indeed, consumers have spent the last twelve months re-evaluating their eating and drinking habits – a trend that was gaining momentum even before the pandemic struck. The growth of flexitarian dietary plans – and linked to this concerns about the state of the environment – saw a significant increase in the proportion of consumers seeking out plant-based alternatives. Consumers also focused more on seeking out functional ingredients, whilst also seeking out products that were free from chemicals and ingredients they didn’t recognize. This is something that also resulted in the evolution of snacking habits, with a greater focus on nutrition. There was also more focus on seeking out ingredients with health boosting benefits. Linked to all this, consumers wanted maximum trust and transparency over the practices and policies of businesses, especially as they can sometimes feel that brands do not have their best interests at heart.

Whilst health, sustainability and transparency were important topics in 2020 for consumers, there was also a strong emphasis on sensory experiences. Consumers increasingly deem themselves to be experimental and adventurous, seeking out new flavors, cuisines and serving suggestions that reflect their good taste and sophistication. Consumers have also turned to such products for moments of temporary escapism from daily pressures, something that has proved important this year.

Given the high levels of disruption caused to lifestyles by the pandemic, health and wellness and safety and assurance is something that will continue to influence attitudes and behaviors, even if consumers demonstrate optimism that the worst of the pandemic is over. With this in mind, FMCG Gurus has launched its Top Ten Trends for 2021

Health and wellness is something that will continue to strongly influence eating and drinking habits, especially as consumers continue to question their dietary plans and whether it is increasing the risk of health problems. The Proactive Living trend is one that focuses on consumers making changes to their diets and focusing on the avoidance and moderation of certain products, with behavioral traits such as detoxing and giving up alcohol for a period of time becoming more common. Meanwhile, the Rediscovering Health trend focuses on consumers actively looking to boost their immune system and taking a greater interest in functional ingredients. This focus on reducing the risk of disease and illness is furthered with the Menu for Me trend, which will see consumers seeking out innovative new solutions for their health focused around personalization and customization. Finally for health and wellness, it needs to be remembered that consumers are not fully health orientated all the time. The Better for You, Not Best for You trend focusing on how consumers will adopt a debit and credit approach to health, seeking out indulgent products deemed guilt-free whilst also eating and drinking healthily most of the time to justify the occasional treat where little-to-no attention is paid to nutritional value.

Safety assurance and risk avoidance is something that will continue to influence consumer behavior over the next twelve months, especially as they question issues that they once took for granted – such as the safety of mass gatherings and the safety of imported products. This focus on risk aversion will manifest in consumer attitudes and behaviors in four ways. The Safe and Secure trend will see consumers continue to seek out transparency and safety assurance around supply chain management. The Earth is Clear trend will also focus on consumers continuing to take a proactive approach to protecting the environment, something that will influence dietary habits, especially as consumers question whether the state of the environment is something that accelerated the impact of the pandemic. The Power of Plants trend highlights how consumers will continue to seek out plant-based alternatives as they look to minimize their intake of dairy and meat. This is something driven by concerns about health and the environment and increasingly, consciousness over animal welfare issues. Finally, the Natural and Pure trend will result in consumers continuing to play close attention to ingredient listings, believing that the fewer ingredients in a product the better and placing emphasis on realness and authenticity.

Irrespective of health concerns and risk aversion (which will be heightened in a recessionary environment) consumers will continue to seek out small and affordable moments of indulgence and escapism. The Taste First, Think Second trend focuses on how consumers are seeking out new and unusual flavors and want their sensory perceptions challenged. In addition to this, consumers will also seek out nostalgic products that remind them of the past and simpler times. Finally the Eating Out, Dining In trend examines how consumers want to replicate out-of-home consumption experiences at-home. Consumers will look to want to maximize personal relationships with loved ones, especially when restrictions on movement are eased, driving demand for products that help facilitate these experiences. They will also want premium products in retail channels that can mirror foodservice occasions in the comfort of their own home.

Whilst consumers are feeling optimistic that the worst of the pandemic is over, they will continue to feel uncertain about a variety of issues, something that will influence need states and spending habits. As such, it is crucial that brands are seen to be understanding and responsive to consumers and are acting in a way that offers assurance and perceptions of value.

This exclusive report was contributed by knowledge partner: