2011 Consumer Packaged Good Trends

More trends.  This time it’s a look at the 12 consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends that Mintel predicts will make an impact in 2011 — spanning across categories of health and wellness, the environment, demographics, marketing and media, convenience and indulgence.

1. Quiet reduction: Sodium, sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) are three well-known ingredients that appear to be experiencing covert reductions in product formulations. While sodium reduction has long been the focus of “quiet reduction,” sugar and HFCS are jumping on board. As the media continue to demonize HFCS, what may start as covert reduction is likely to end up as a key labeling issue, in the same way trans fat-free has become the norm in some parts of the world. The European region still awaits approval of stevia, but Mintel predicts we’ll 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. Instead the messages will be “naturally sweetened” or “reduced sugar.”


2. Redefining natural: Get ready for a “natural shakedown,” says 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. Terms that are vague or not well understood will come under fire and we are due to see an intervention of regulatory bodies. Also, expect to see a new focus on accentuating the positives of what is in a product, rather than emphasizing what is not in it.

3. Professionalization 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. 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).  Mintel identifies several food products that help consumers create meals quickly, easily and with better results at home  — including McCormick’s Recipe Inspirations.

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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 we have seen, with a few twists. 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. Also, expect 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 that there is enough world supply.

5. Blurring categories: How much more innovation can you get out of a category? Manufacturers’ response to consumer needs is the driver to developing hybrid products. 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. Sparkling beverages are appearing more and being positioned as a source of refreshment, as well as sophistication. Beyond hybrid forms, we also see a blurring of how consumers use products – with beverages consumed as snacks, snacks as meals, and personal care and home care products that do more than one thing, as well.  Mintel cites as a trend example Dr. Pepper Snapple Group’s Sunkist Solar Fusion, a carbonated fruit-flavored drink with caffeine.

6. New retro: Over the last year, we have seen more big brands that revitalize old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia. We anticipate more of these in 2011. Companies are returning to a time when life seemed somehow easier, whether that’s the 1980s for consumers in their 20s, or the 1970s or 1960s for older consumers. You’ll see this with brands using old formulations, old package designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel.

photo: lavenderbouquet on flickr

photo: lavenderbouquet on flickr

7. Less is more redux. Mintel says the “less is more” thinking is linked increasingly to convenience and economical solutions, with the environment taking a secondary role.  They suggest the trend may possibly signal a revival of previously “tired” categories, such as dehydrated soup.  Concentrates and simplified forms are appearing in many categories, including Starbuck’s Via insResource_Senior_Activ_vaniltant coffee.

8. Simplicity for older consumers. Older consumers, especially Baby Boomers, will continue to look for products tailored to their needs.  As they age, consumers will focus on simple, realistic results rather than hype or lofty promises.  As a trend example, Mintel cites Nestle’s Nutrition Resource Senior Activ in Switzerland, a nutritional supplement for older adults to “aid in improving nutritional status, regaining strength and energy after illness or surgery, and supporting physical strength and cognitive health.”

Similarly, a new product that was recently launched by Abbott called Ensure Muscle Health is going after the 40+ crowd with concerns about age-related muscle loss.

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9. Econo-chic. Luxury is making a comeback, but in a more limited way.  In 2011, Mintel says CPG products will be positioned as “small treats” to appeal to consumers who want occasional splurges.

10. More cradle-to-grave brand initiatives. Products will stretch their brand values and their target market up and down the age spectrum.

11. Instant results. Consumers will demand results-driven products that provide a benefit instantly.  While currently seen primarily in personal care products, such as beauty-enhancing cosmetics and anti-aging skin care, Mintel predicts that it will expand to food and drink.

12. Personal hygiene comes out of the closet. For personal care products, discretion is out, honesty is in.  Mintel says look for more open discussion of formerly taboo subjects, leading to greater and more unique product development and more transparency in marketing.

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