by Mary Ellen Kuhn
What’s driving consumer behavior in 2011? Experts from Innova Market Insights mapped it out for Food Expo attendees with comprehensive top 10 trend displays in the Taste the Trend pavilion (Booth 6253) on the show floor. Innova showcased a list of overarching top 10 trends as well as lists of numerous secondary trends.
The year’s No. 1 trend, according to Innova, is consumers’ tendency to turn away from overly processed foods formulated with long ingredient lists or boasting an overly long shelf life.
“Consumers are looking for products that don’t seem as processed,” said Lu Ann Williams, Head of Research at Innova Market Insights. “They are looking for products that are recognizable—ingredients they understand and products that they could in theory make themselves. For example, a typical consumer could understand how to make a potato chip but an extruded snack—that is something many consumers consider to be more processed than a potato chip because they wouldn’t know how to make it themselves.”
Here’s a look at the next four trends on Innova Market Insights’ top 10 trends list.
• Offering real value. “Value is vital in this age of austerity,” Innova states. Value-driven consumers will respond well to bigger pack sizes, but they’re also likely to go for small, affordable luxuries—the kinds of things they can treat themselves to without breaking the bank.
• Proven is the new buzzword. European regulations governing health claims are stringent, which means that companies that do manage to make it through the health claims maze are eager to tout their status. Increasingly, marketers are making “clinically proven” or other scientific research claims on the front of packages, Innova reports. Recommendations from nutritionists and other health professionals are likely to carry weight with consumers.
• Return to softer claims. On the other hand, because health claims are so closely scrutinized in Europe, some manufacturers have had to rely on softer claims or tag lines such as “may reduce risk,” “sensible solution,” or “smart choice.” Innova reports that the number of “active” health claims in which a marketer is targeting a product’s added benefits was down by 4% in 2010 vs 2009, while the number of “passive” claims, which describe attributes such as reduction of fat or cholesterol, increased by 25% in the same timeframe.
“The new regulatory environment is proving to be challenging but there is an opportunity,” said Williams. “Companies investing in good science can offer consumers a good reason to believe—a proven health claim. We have been tracking the impact of the regulations on innovations in the health and wellness space and we can see dips and peaks in health claims that follow the pattern of the regulatory process. While companies have been waiting on their claims to be approved, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in softer (passive) claims like simply, sensible, and smart, usually in combination with reduced fat, sugar, or salt.”
• Getting connected. Social media is attracting a lot of attention, and, not surprisingly, a growing number of manufacturers are tapping into social media platforms to hype their products. Examples of such initiatives include promotions in which consumers are invited to help determine what flavor a brand will add to a product line and interactive online diet-tracking options for weight-conscious consumers.
Find out more about the trends driving consumer packaged goods sales at the Taste the Trend Pavilion or at http://www.innovadatabase.com/.