‘Redefining Value’ heads current trends as consumers adapt to a global cost-of-living crisis in the face of economic and political volatility. With budgets stretched and supplies under strain, brands need to be flexible in action and open in spirit to connect with consumers, while also taking full advantage of rapidly emerging technological opportunities, the market researcher claimed.
Based on wide-ranging global consumer surveys and coupled with comprehensive market and new product data, Innova said that over the last year, cost and value for money have become more important to more than half of food and beverage consumers worldwide. Today’s shoppers are increasingly exploring money-saving strategies, such as choosing lower cost items and cooking from scratch. But they remain determined to sample new experiences, ensure personal wellbeing and support planetary health. There is more pressure on brands and manufacturers to deliver value while still meeting these wider public expectations.
“Redefining value throughout the food and beverage industry will lead in 2023 as consumers seek brands that listen, understand and respond to their core values. They want brands that provide quality, trust and confidence via their product formulations, communications and wider sustainability actions,” said Lu Ann Williams, Global Insights Director at Innova Market Insights.
Brands, innovators, producers and consumers are wrestling with rising costs and greater instability. Combating this requires a deep understanding of where consumers draw the line on compromise. Strategies such as simple price increases, or flexible ingredient lists to cope with supply chain fluctuations, can work in the short term. However, brands need to be open in their communication and clearly show the benefits they are bringing.
Despite political and economic volatility becoming the second biggest concern for consumers in 2022, the health of the planet remains the top global issue and financial pressures are leading to an increase in eco-friendly behaviours. Consumers tell Innova they have reduced food waste and upcycled or recycled more as part of their belt-tightening. As the cost-of-living crisis continues, brands can achieve success through actions that combine economic benefits with clear health and sustainability goals.
Over the past 12 months, 62% of consumers have reported a noticeable rise in the cost of their food and beverages. As a result, they are turning their attention to simple but nutritious goods that are affordable, the market researcher added. Key behaviours include buying in bulk, opting for private labels, cooking from scratch, reducing spending on luxury items and purchasing fewer items. Consumers are actively looking for affordable ways to maintain a healthy diet, offering brands many opportunities to test their capabilities to new limits. To meet the nutritional, environmental and economic demands of consumers, manufacturers must innovate to extract maximum value from raw materials and the production process.
Innova further identified that younger consumers, raised in an interactive digital world, are creating trends and defining what markets should be providing. For Gen Z and Millennials, food and brand choices are important signifiers of lifestyle, beliefs and values. These demographics have a strong voice and are used to sharing their views openly and widely. While health is an increasingly important purchase driver – as it also is across older generations – novel and international flavours are winning the hearts of a young and experimental audience. These consumers embrace the new and different, while being extremely responsive to positive engagement from brands.
Plant-Based: Unlocking a New Narrative
The rapid rise of the plant-based sector has hit some roadblocks, necessitating a refocusing on consumer demands for high quality, flavoursome products, Innova added. No longer merely a mimic, green gastronomy will blossom as a standalone sector in 2023, giving brands significant opportunities to diversify and expand. Consumers still want to see improvements in taste and texture, but there is a huge appetite for culinary creativity and worldwide flavour profiles. Two-thirds of respondents to Innova’s global survey expressed a desire to try plant-based versions of traditional, local cuisines. The industry is responding with a large increase in ready-meal offerings, while there is great scope for expansion into meal kits and inventive recipe combinations. Interest in underused ingredients is also growing, creating opportunities to introduce variation in flavour and nutrition while simultaneously addressing supply concerns.
Farming the Future
Public curiosity for innovative technologies such as vertical and regenerative farming is increasing, according to the trend’s watcher. As well as helping to maximize flavour, nutrition and yield, these advances can win consumer support where they are shown to improve the quality and sustainability of global food production. Today’s consumer is increasingly invested in the source of food as it ties in with major global concerns of health, sustainability and waste. The welfare of agricultural workers is equally important, with 65% of respondents to Innova’s surveys agreeing they would rather buy fruit and vegetables from farmer’s markets than large stores. Brands need to demonstrate how novel production techniques are benefiting farmers, people and the planet.
“We have seen a considerable consumer demand for value redefined throughout the supply chain, with creative and flexible approaches to the use of technology and reducing waste proving pivotal,” added Ann Williams. “With financial concerns a dominating factor, 2023 is a significant year for new developments that answer these growing demands. Based on our consumer and market research, our Top Trends deliver insights to support brands as they innovate and grow.”