Industry top trends for 2022 identified by FMCG Gurus

Health and wider wellbeing have emerged as continued major topics in FMCG Gurus latest top ten consumer trends studies on shopper behaviour, writes Neill Barston.

The UK-based organisation’s latest studies follow on from its analysis last summer which revealed that a total of 55% of people believed natural claims in product ranges for confectionery were an important factor in their purchasing decisions within the category.

Consequently, for the start of 2022, FMCG’s studies found that consumers placed a high value on proactive and preventative approaches in their food and drink buying patterns, marked by a desire to minimise the risk of being ill or suffering serious health issues.

Later this autumn, the group will be joining Confectionery Production for the World Confectionery Conference, which will seek to place a spotlight on some of the major issues facing the confectionery sector, including its future sustainability, as well as examining core equipment, systems and finished trends topics.

According to FMCG’s findings, its top ten trends includes its The Destination Health topic focuses on how consumers are taking a holistic approach to health and are actively looking to improve their mental and physical wellbeing, seeking out products and ingredients with active claims. One integral part of this trend is that people are recognising the importance of emotional wellbeing and happiness and are looking to improve this, especially as it is something that has been heavily impacted over the last eighteen 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 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.

Furthermore, Prevention over Cure assesses how health goals are shifting towards a focus on disease management and proactive approaches to wellbeing meaning 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, and this 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 play a significant role 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 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 can be worried 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 re-prioritising 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 over wellbeing.

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 wellbeing. 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 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 flavours, wanting new and innovative flavours.

Story-telling 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.

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