At SupplySide West, FMCG Gurus’ Will Cowling sat down with Nutritional Outlook to discuss the market researcher’s topline predictions.
Market researcher FMCG Gurus (UK) unveiled its top 10 trend predictions for 2023 for consumer behaviors and priorities in the food, beverage, and supplement markets. At November’s SupplySide West trade show in Las Vegas, Will Cowling, marketing manager at FMCG Gurus, spoke to Nutritional Outlook about what’s driving the company’s predictions.
FMCG’s trend foresignts are an amalgamation of insights the market researcher gathers via its many consumer surveys. Many of the company’s surveys throughout the years relate to each other, showing how consumer behaviors and preferences shape a range of nutrition and lifestyle choices and change over time. This, the company says, is an advantage over typical surveys that simply collect data at one point in time. Gathering the data in this way allows the company “to really see where consumers are going,” said Cowling. And it’s especially important during these times of uncertainty following a pandemic and going into an inflationary period, all of which heavily influence consumers’ purchasing habits. “If you can understand how the consumer is acting in this time of uncertainty, it’s going to give you a strategic position above the rest,” he said. Surveys are administered by third parties in anywhere from between 10 and 30 countries, with sample sizes of between 800-1000 people per country, he said.
Overall, said FMCG, “2023 will be driven by a desire for maximum value for money whilst trying to avoid compromising on a variety of need states.” Its top 10 trend predictions for 2023 are:
Will Inflation Dampen Health & Wellness Spending?
As inflation rates rise, consumers are making tough choices on where to spend their dollars. “Consumers will have to reevaluate their food and drink spending habits, cutting down on non-essentials, demonstrating less brand loyalty and a greater willingness to shop around and take advantage of promotional offerings,” FMCG Gurus states.
FMCG data in 2022 show that 72% of global consumers surveyed said they are concerned about rising living costs in their country, with 63% of global consumers surveyed stating they are looking to reduce the amount that they spend on food and drink. However, FMCG points out, some consumers may still be willing to pay higher prices for quality if a product meets their needs.
Said Cowling: “I still think health and wellness is going to remain a key area. Of course, the price and rising living costs are going to impact this, but what we’re seeing from consumers is that even though they’re adopting discretionary-style spending habits, what we see is that they’re going to be cutting back on products they deem unnecessary and non-essential. But because consumers are still taking that proactive approach and really addressing their health and wellness, that’s going to be a key area for them. So brands and manufacturers must make sure that health and wellbeing and better-for-you products are positioned not just as affordable but as an essential for consumers to implement in their diets.” He said FMCG plans to conduct more surveys next year on the topic of rising costs.
Authenticity and Transparency
In its trends, FMCG points to consumers’ growing demand for product and brand transparency.
For instance, a growing number of consumers are paying attention to the ingredients listed on their food and drink products. Consumers are also demanding products that are “green and clean, and that have a streamlined list of real and authentic ingredients,” states FMCG Gurus.
They also want to know the story behind products and brands. Companies need to be active and transparent in communicating sustainability claims, where products are made, and why the brand itself should be trusted.
Said Cowling: “What we’re seeing is that a number of consumers are less trusting of health and wellness brands, not thinking those brands have their best interests at heart. They see them as just putting on these health claims and ingredients to boost higher prices…So what they want is clear and concise science-backed information.”
Consumers continue seeking out environmentally responsible and regenerative brands. These are still top concerns, evidenced by 2022 FMCG survey data on the percentage of global consumers surveyed stating that they are concerned about the following: carbon emissions (74%), global warming (74%), plastic pollution (74%), food wastage (68%), and deforestation (63%). In addition, FMCG data from 2022 show that 49% of global consumers have changed their diets in the last two years in order to make their diets more sustainable.
Companies need to heed these priorities and continue making efforts to offset their carbon footprints and increase their regenerative practices. If they don’t? FMCG data in 2022 show that 27% of global consumers surveyed have “actively boycotted a brand in the last two years due to their environmental/ethical credentials.” Said Cowling: “As we know, consumers are looking for sustainable claims more and more often.”
Mood and Stress
Consumers are also looking for natural products to support mood and stress, especially during these times of strife. In 2022 FMCG Gurus surveys, data showed that consumers around the world have plans to improve their mental wellbeing and energy levels in the next 12 months. For instance, the percentage of consumers surveyed looking to improve mental wellbeing is 46% globally. Regionally, the percentages are 39% in Asia-Pacific, 50% in Europe, 59% in North America, and 39% in South America. Meanwhile, the percentage of consumers looking to improve their energy levels in the next 12 months is 41% globally (38% in Asia-Pacific, 41% in Europe, 54% in North America, and 32% in South America).
It’s no surprise that we’re more stressed—again, see trend #1, inflation, above. Throw in a pandemic and transitioning back to normal routines, and it’s a trend poised continue. Ingredients like botanicals will be big players in this space, Cowling said.
Looking Toward the Future
The nutrition industry will also continue embracing new and innovative farming methods. Said FMCG Gurus, “Demand is growing for new and innovative farming methods that enable reduced waste along the supply chain and ensure the regeneration of resources used.”
FMCG surveys from 2021 asked consumers how likely they are to eat foods produced using the following farming methods. Their responses? Forty-five percent of respondents said yes to blockchain-based farming methods (“where all information on sustainability practices can be accessed online”), 64% said yes to vertical farming (“farming designed to constantly produce crops whilst reducing water usage”), 69% said yes to regenerative farming (“farming designed to improve soil health”), 69% said yes to biodynamic farming (“farming designed to improve soil health”), and 84% said yes to farming methods designed to reduce carbon footprint.
Forward-looking production methods such as fermentation and cell cultures “are going to be coming up more in the spotlight in the next couple of years,” Cowling predicted.