Consumers now rank the health of the planet as their No. 1 concern, overtaking personal health that has been the top priority in recent years. A sense of joint responsibility for a shared planet is guiding the choices consumers make and the lifestyles they wish to lead. According to Innova’s Global Lifestyle & Attitude Survey, when it comes to food choices, the top two environmental actions people are taking are reducing waste (43% of respondents) and eating in moderation (32%).
Elsewhere, concerns over health that have been amplified by a pandemic that has massively changed social habits, the continued advancements in technology, and more confident, vocal consumers, all offer clear signs of the direction innovators must take to successfully meet society’s needs and desires in 2022.
“Shared Planet” leads Innova Market Insights’ Top Ten Trends, focusing on how everyone can play their part in shaping a sustainable and prosperous future. Consumers tell us they want to be ethically and environmentally conscious, so brands need to work alongside the public to breed confidence in the claims attached to products. Trust and transparency are must-haves for any brand wishing to find common ground with an increasingly educated, forward-thinking and interconnected consumer base.
“One of the biggest shifts we are seeing is that the health of the planet is now the top concern of consumers,” said Lu Ann Williams, global insights director, Innova Market Insights. “Personal health has been the big concern for the past few years, but consumers now tell us that this has been surpassed by global issues. Sustainability is no longer just a Wall Street issue. It might not be the top purchase driver for all consumers, but for many it clinches the deal when it comes to choosing between products."
The following trends will drive innovation and success in 2022.
1. Shared planet
As planetary concerns outstrip personal health when it comes to consumers’ food priorities, brands are moving on from simply proclaiming their credentials to meeting a clear, agreed and understandable measurement of their environmental and social impact. There is a pressing need for companies to work together and with consumers to build trust in claims of zero or negative impact. It is vital to ensure universal acceptance of certifications and greater public faith in the transparency of brand actions. This requires quick, clear, tangible and trusted information combined with a product life story that truly stands up to scrutiny.
2. Plant-based: The canvas for innovation
With personal health and global sustainability proving to be strong drivers of consumer choice, plant-based R&D has refocused from mimicking meat, fish and dairy to optimizing options that stand on their own merits. When asked what reasons consumers have for considering plant-based alternatives, respondents said they consider it healthier and better for the planet. A third reason, the desire for diet variation, is further boosting interest in plant-based beyond the traditional vegan and vegetarian sectors, leading to a 59% increase in launches of new plant-based products in the year to August 2021. From convenience foods to gastronomy, people are looking for the quality alternatives plant-based products can offer.
3. Tech to table
Technological advances have created major innovation opportunities for the entire food and beverage industry, offering greater possibilities to change every aspect of a product’s lifecycle from conception to consumption. While innovators embrace new production methods, consumers turn to apps and AI for guidance on personalized nutrition and a greater understanding of how to successfully fulfil their needs. Myths and misunderstandings are crumbling, so it has never been more important to engage in honest and open communication with consumers to ensure their continued trust in the advances of food technology. Respondents to Innova’s Consumer Survey said they are more willing to embrace changes such as new food technologies or sharing data if they can be shown to be beneficial to personal and global health.
4. Shifting occasions
Lockdowns and the pandemic have reshaped existing eating occasions while at the same time helping to create new ones. Consumers have a greater awareness of the comforts and possibilities of home, so now seek more from going out. Industry leaders will be pushed to better serve evolving consumption occasions, creating products geared to the new expectations of a public whose social habits have been challenged.
5. Voice of the consumer
Consumers are calling the shots and expecting more engagement from brands through digital and real-world channels. People are looking for food and beverages that align with their political, social and ethical values. If they can’t find them, entrepreneurial consumers are taking action to fill the gap themselves, satisfying specific market niches and co-creating products that meet their needs.
In addition to the top five, Innova identified the following themes that will drive consumer actions in the coming 12 months:
6. Gut glory
7. Back to the roots
8. Amplified experiences
9. Upcycling redefined
10. My food, my brand