We’re not yet one month in to 2019 and we’ve already had a number of contentious stories hitting the media. From Gillette’s controversial ad on modern masculinity and Avon’s cellulite shaming fail, to the unprecedented rise of fast food delivery service giants, perhaps at the expense of consumer health and the already thin profit margins of the restaurants servicing the operations.
Focused on the prevailing trends, there are brands who want to make a statement and provoke their audience to challenge their preconceptions about what they stand for, and there are those that spot the advantage and create genuinely new propositions to meet the demands of changing lifestyles.
What are the trends brands need to prepare for or adapt to this year? Impact looks at four key themes we believe will help shape the food & drink sector over the coming months.
1. Feeding a healthy lifestyle
Consumer knowledge and understanding of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle will increase. Purchasing decisions based on a desire to look and feel good will grow, as the consumer seeks healthy ageing throughout their entire life.
Along with numerous think tanks, charities and lobby groups, governments, who are already counting the cost of an unhealthy nation are helping support the educational messaging by growing awareness of heart, bone and brain health and introducing more stringent regulation to protect their populations.
Brands now need to justify their choice of ingredients if they want to keep the consumer on-board or risk losing market share. Food and drink manufacturers need to adapt existing products as well as create new ones such as alcohol-free wines and plant-based foods and align with the consumer desire to improve general well-being.
2. Environmental concerns shape eating habits
With the spotlight on provenance and environmental impact of producing food from field to plate the numbers choosing vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian lifestyles will grow. Helped by documentaries such as ‘Food, Inc.’ and ‘Cowspiracy’, and the growing chorus of scientists evidencing the environmental impact of meat and dairy products consumer awareness and respect for the environment will help to broaden the appeal of labels such as “organic”, “free range” and “local”.
Initiatives such as the potential tax on meat are driven by environmental and health concerns and are a threat to the sales of staple foods. Producers and retailers will need to be transparent with shoppers and assist them in their purchasing decisions by proving authenticity, outlining genuine health benefits and giving clear advice about including staple foods in a healthy balanced diet.
3. Principles are paramount
Taking a stand on social issues is likely to be controversial as already discussed in our introduction but companies who do take the risk will be rewarded. Consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Z are increasingly becoming savvy to disingenuous ideals peddled by marketing departments but not followed through and are demanding social responsibility in exchange for brand loyalty.
Most bold announcements in this area have been centred on consumer goods and health and personal care, for example Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign starring Colin Kaepernick and the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. But as the moral and environmental implications of our food becomes centre stage, be prepared for this trend to be increasingly emulated in the food and drink industry. Iceland’s banned Rang-Tan advert was an incredibly impactful (although they appear to be ill prepared to follow through on their promise), and Riverford’s clear ethos has gained them a loyal customer base for their organic veg-boxes. Brands who plant a stake in the ground now are likely to gain the greatest publicity and public goodwill.
4. Demand for tailored, experience and convenience foods
Millennials will stand in line for a purchasing experience, whether that be sharing products such as Doritos Roulette, personalised Coca-Cola cans or ‘pimped-up’ burger buns with glaze for added shine, perfect for sharing on Instagram. Increasingly brands will be recognising the pocket power of this new generation of discerning foodies. Streaming services like Netflix and the general expense of nights out will continue to boost the popularity of deliveries – the NPD Group predict delivery will grow 10% in 2019 to £5bn. Meal kit delivery boxes as well as being tailored and an experience, are also highly convenient.
From smaller packaging sizes for the single person household, to on-the-go meals and snacks, brands that help to make consumer lives easier and still deliver health benefits will thrive.
Impact helps food and drink brands innovate and perfect their propositions by connecting with the consumer. Call us for an informal chat, and find out how we can help create a resilient product and marketing strategy to be successful today and tomorrow.
You may also like to read Impact’s report on Healthier Choices - a useful guide to understand what claims truly resonate with consumers, and what trade-offs they’re willing to make for healthier foods.