The Natural Marketing Institute's (NMI) Top Ten Trends of 2007, revealed yesterday, draws from the group's database of research involving over 400,000 US consumers and spanning 150 product categories. According to NMI president Maryellen Molyneaux, consumer desire for control is the overriding theme across all of the major trends identified. "Consumers express their desire for control across their health, lifestyle, finance and other critical issues, while at the same time they want new innovative products, more information and show increasingly fragmented behavior," she said. The first trend identified by NMI is dubbed The Age of the Individual, and has exploded in reaction to mass marketing and a declining trust in the traditional authorities of church, government and the corporation, said the group. This has driven a culture of consumer-generated content, products and services that are 'made just for me'. In the food industry, consumer customization can be seen in products such as personalized beverages with programmable bottles. The concept of 'temporary' in a culture that is less permanent and forever on the move has spurred faster product lifecycles, said NMI, which identified this trend as Seize the Moment. This has resulted in consumers demanding greater innovation and exhibiting a greater willingness to try new products regardless of brand. "This decline in brand loyalty is witnessed across categories, including the beverage category, as consumers seek the thrill of discovery of new products, new flavors and innovative packaging concepts. In addition, these 'forever on the move' consumers will drive new innovation in healthy convenience," wrote the market researcher. Another trend identified is termed A Deeper Values Experience, and involves a heightened interest in sourcing, materials, trade practices and social causes. This has become a part of the consumer brand experience, as well as the growing popularity in organic products, said NMI, adding that the trend comes hand in hand with consumer willingness to pay the 20 percent premium. Consumers are also embracing Back-to-the-Future simplicity and authenticity, with a belief that quality is better than quantity. "Consumers are gravitating to smaller footprint retail environments, including a resurgence of 'high street' shopping for one-of-a-kind offerings including 'artsinal' and handmade goods. Products with legible labels, simplified ingredients and reassuring packaging are also experiencing success," said NMI. The New Fear Factor – which characterizes an increasingly fear-based society – has resulted in an increased desire for safer foods and beverages, as well as organic and environmentally-friendly products. This opens up significant opportunities for manufacturers and retailers to build market share through trust and reassurance. The New Consumer-Centric Media identifies a growing turn towards the internet as a purchasing channel, especially for healthy and natural products. Memory Fast Lane is NMI's term for an increasing consumer preoccupation with maintaining and optimizing brain power, with the market researcher stating that all age groups surveyed indicated a significant concern with preventing concentration and memory problems. Nearly three-quarters of consumers are currently using supplements, foods or beverages to prevent memory problems, and further opportunities exist, said the group. Other trends identified relevant to the food and beverage industries include an increased tendency to eat dinner at home and purchase healthy snacks, as well as the emergence of the consumer group aged 100 and over, which points to significant changes in products and packaging.