Sodium, sustainability among 2011's top CPG trends
“These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing,” notes Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel's director of innovation and insight. “Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products.”
Dornblaser says predicted 12 CPG trends that will impact product development in 2011 spanning across categories from health and wellness, the environment, demographics, marketing and media, convenience and indulgence. Below are six of these core trends.
1) Quiet Reduction: Sodium, sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are three well-known ingredients that appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations. While sodium reduction has long been the focus of “quiet reduction,” sugar and HFCS are jumping on board.
As media continue to demonize HFCS, what may start as covert reduction is likely to end up as a key labeling issue, in the same way transfat-free has become the norm in some parts of the world. The European region still awaits approval of stevia, but Mintel says we should expect to see sugar and stevia used in conjunction to achieve an overall lower sugar content in new products. However, “stevia” will not always be part of the overt communication. Instead we’ll see messaging like “naturally sweetened” or “reduced sugar.”
2) Redefining Natural: Get ready for a “natural shakedown!” While all types of natural claims have grown in importance in all regions, and across all product categories, the term “natural” is still ill-defined. Terms that are vague or not well understood will come under fire and we are due to see an intervention of regulatory bodies. Also, expect to see a new focus on accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasizing what is not in it.
3) Professionalization of the Amateur: Mainstream brands are getting into a more serious “professional” arena, by bringing into the home what used to require a specialist service. This trend arguably has its origins in personal care markets, with “salon-style” hair treatments for home use, but continues to expand to include household (“professional strength” cleaning products) and food (chef-endorsed, restaurant-style meals).
4) Sustainability stays focused on the basics: Sustainability is not slipping down the priority list. However, instead of seeing new developments, expect to see a continuation of what we have seen, with a few twists, says Mintel. There will be a greater focus on reduced packaging that promotes environmental responsibility in combination with uniqueness, such as box-less cereal bars or more cereals without the inner bag. Also, expect water usage to become a hot, consumer-facing issue in 2011. Companies will be looking for ways to conserve water and change their consumption habits so that there is enough world supply.
5) Blurring Categories: How much more innovation can you get out of a category? Manufacturers’ response to consumer needs is the driver to developing hybrid products. Consumers don’t necessarily view products as being in one category or another, rather they look for solutions that meet their needs, and that may be something that straddles multiple categories.
Sparkling beverages are appearing more and being positioned as a source of refreshment, as well as sophistication. Beyond hybrid forms, we also see a blurring of how consumers use products – with beverages consumed as snacks, snacks as meals, and personal care and home care products that do more than one thing, as well.
6) New Retro: Last year, we saw more big brands that revitalize old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia, says Mintel.
"We anticipate more of these in 2011. Companies are returning to a time when life seemed somehow easier, whether that’s the 1980s for consumers in their 20s, or the 1970s or 1960s for older consumers," the researcher says. "You’ll see this with brands using old formulations, old package designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel."