Mintel picks top trends in consumer packaged goods

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Mintel has predicted worldwide consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends set to make an impact in 2011.

“These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing,” said Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. “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.”

Mintel has predicted 12 CPG trends, which will impact product development in 2011; spanning categories from health and wellness, the environment, demographics, marketing and media, convenience and indulgence. Six of these core trends are highlighted below:

  1. Quiet reduction: Sodium, sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are three well known ingredients, which appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations, reports Mintel. While sodium reduction has long been the focus of ‘quiet reduction’, sugar and HFCS are jumping on board, it says. As the US media continue to demonise 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, reports Mintel. The European region still awaits approval of stevia, but Mintel expects 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, it says. Instead messaging such as ‘naturally sweetened’ or ‘reduced sugar’ will be used.

  2. Redefining natural: Get ready for a natural shakedown, advises Mintel. 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, it says. Terms that are vague or not well understood will come under fire and Mintel expects to see an intervention by regulatory bodies. It also anticipates a new focus on accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasising what is not in it.

  3. Professionalisation 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, reports Mintel. 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, but instead of seeing new developments, expect to see a continuation of what has already been 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 boxless cereal bars or more cereals without the inner bag. Mintel also expects 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 there is enough world supply, it says.

  5. Blurring categories: How much more innovation can you get out of a category, asks Mintel? Manufacturers’ response to consumer needs is the driver to developing hybrid products, it says. 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, suggests Mintel. Sparkling beverages are appearing more and being positioned as a source of refreshment, as well as sophistication, it says. Beyond hybrid forms, Mintel says how consumers use products is becoming blurred – with beverages consumed as snacks, snacks as meals, and personal care and home care product, which do more than one thing.

  6. New retro: Over the last year, Mintel says more big brands have revitalised old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia. It anticipates more of these in 2011. Companies are returning to a time when life seemed somehow easier, whether that is the 1980s for consumers in their 20s, or the 1970s or 1960s for older consumers. Mintel expects to see brands using old formulations, old packaging designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel.