“Every year, trends don’t stop on December 31 and start over on January 1,” Lu Ann Williams, director of insights and innovation at Innova Market Insights, recently told webinar attendees gathered to look ahead to the top 10 trends of 2012. Rather, she explained, trends build and evolve year over year – and as one of the most influential events of 2020, coronavirus has dramatically reshaped and elevated several trends that will take on added prominence in the new year.
Among these is a demand for personalized nutrition and products that meet individuals’ style, beliefs and needs, which Innova found 64% of consumers consider a top priority when purchasing products, Williams noted.
“Gluten-free was really the first trend where consumers got an idea that the way I eat can really make me feel different to the way other people eat. So, now we see consumers want everything tailored,” she said.
The top three factors they consider when evaluating personalize nutrition is if a product meets their specific nutritional needs, fits their lifestyle (including their ethical priorities) and is based on their body composition, she added.
Immunity-boosting is a top priority
Another trend that COVID shined a spotlight on in 2020 that will continue in 2021 is an interest in immunity-boosting properties, which 60% of consumers around the world told Innova is something they increasingly look for in food and beverage products.
In addition, 54% of consumers said that due to COVID they now spend time educating themselves on ingredients and procedures or things that help boost their immunity, which has led to many getting more sleep, being more physically active and choosing foods naturally high in nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
This also has fueled an increased interest in botanical ingredients, like elderflower and ginger, Williams noted.
Managing mood: A better-for-you twist on eating your feelings
Consumers are not just looking for nutrition to support their physical health during the ongoing pandemic, but also to manage their emotional needs during a prolonged period of isolation and heightened stress that have left many feeling alternatively lethargic or suffering from insomnia, Williams noted.
According to Innova’s research, 44% of consumers surveyed globally said they are taking action to support their mental and emotional wellbeing and 32% said they were doing the same for their spiritual time.
In response, Williams reports seeing a “staggering growth” of package claims related to mood.
“Adaptogens are now being promoted as having all kinds of benefits when it comes to reducing stress to mental wellbeing,” she said pointing to an example of a “snackable drink” from Coca-Cola in Japan that includes botanicals, collagen and ingredients to promote sleep and beauty.
Likewise, PepsiCo’s Driftwell with L-Theanine and magnesium claims to help promote sleep, she noted.
Nutrition hacking bolsters interest, tolerance of ‘technology’ in food
As consumer demands from food and beverages become more sophisticated, so to does their understanding and acceptance of technology used to create nutrient-dense, sustainable and ethically sourced products, according to Innova.
According to Innova’s research, four in five global consumers believe in progress in food and beverage through science, which Williams noted has “been beaten up” in recent years. In addition, consumers increasingly are willing to compromise on ‘naturalness’ for a product that meets their nutritional needs.
This shift opens the door for products like Arla Foods’ clean label ambient yogurt and Chobani’s Complete lactose-free cultured low-fat milk with a hefty does of fiber.
This trend also is contributing to consumer interest in adaptogens and botanicals – underscoring how different trends overlap and bolster each other, Williams added.
Other top trends on Innova’s watch list for 2021 include: product mashups, modern nostalgia, age of the influencer, omnichannel eating, plant-forward and transparency triumphs.