Characters, or ‘personas’, can be used to better understand consumer groups. From a business perspective, they can help industry predict future needs, rethink existing products, and develop new ideas.
After what WGSN has described as a ‘prolonged period of uncertainty’, the consumer trend forecaster has developed a selection of personas it predicts will be relevant for food and drink players by 2024.
Brands need to know about them now however, we were told, to anticipate their evolved food and drink demands. Claire Lancaster, strategist at WGSN Food & Drink, outlines two of them for FoodNavigator: the ‘Mindful Nurturists’ and the ‘Experientialists’.
The Mindful Nurturist
More than anything, the character of the ‘Mindful Nurturist’ cares for themselves, their community, and the planet. They value holistic wellbeing solutions and advocate for inclusion.
According to WGSN, products that help them care for the community and the world around them will particularly appeal to the Mindful Nurturist. And as interest and familiarity with adaptogens grow, functional ingredients with ‘roots in traditional medicine’ will make their way into more accessible everyday food and snacks.
The rise of alcohol-free drinks is also expected to appeal to this consumer group, as they seek ‘healthful takes’ on ‘wind-down rituals’, as well as advocating for those that are under-represented by the culture of drinking – whether for cultural, religious or health reasons.
“The pandemic and the climate crisis have brought the importance of care into sharp focus, and The Mindful Nurturists are rising up and brining with them new priorities: wellbeing over work, community over competition, and the planet over profit,” explained Lancaster.
“They will emerge in 2024 seeking out healing and restorative food and drink that supports their holistic wellness goals,” she told this publication. “A benevolent persona that values security, tradition and inclusion, they will look to brands that help them extend hospitality and nurture the communities around them as well as care for the environment."
Another of WGSN’s predicted personals is the ‘Experientialist’. This consumer group lives to ‘turn chaos into fabulous’, fluctuating between digital and physical reality and turning every new food and drink experience into an ‘extravaganza’.
According to the consumer trend forecaster, the Experientialist not only welcomes ‘next-level’ innovation, but seeks to construct lifestyles around new concepts and ways of thinking, actively supporting future-forward ventures at every turn.
“While their appetite for autonomous discovery is a key driver, they will seek to forge a genuine connection with the brands they buy from, as well as understand why the product they enjoy taste, feel and smell the way they do,” explained WGSN.
This category group will embrace ‘phygital’ food realities, multisensorial experiences, lesser-known global cuisines and ingredients, and fresh culinary solutions. The consumer trend forecaster expects the areas of greatest opportunity for new production development to include those which offer digital activities that lead to rewarding realities IRL, or multisensory encounters that ‘broaden the mind’ and ‘unpick established codes of dining’.
"Energised by next-generation food frontiers and unrestrained culinary creativity, The Experientialists will emerge in 2024 to embrace future-forward innovations and seek out change-makers who are breaking new gastronomical ground,” Lancaster told us.
“A post-pandemic desire for connectivity will influence The Experientialists in their search for satisfying stimulus, with creative product storytelling and engaging phygital realities fulfilling a need for immersive food experiences."
And the rest...
The other personas include the 'Conscious Curators', the 'Collective Guardians', and the 'Foodiversalists.
The Conscious Curators are intentional, mission-driven and tech-connected, and according to WGSN, they maintain household control with 'streamlined solutions' that cater to diverse, plant-centric dietary lifestyles. The persona of the Collective Guardian is driven by desire to put power in the hands of the under-represented. This persona champions cuisines and flavours that have had limited exposure, supporting those communities and cultures, WGSN explained.
And the Foodiversalists are grounded by a connection to the Earth. "This persona is eager to bring about change, believing nature and nature-backed solutions are key to the health of humans and the planet."