In 2016, we’ve seen several clear trends emerge among CPG food brands. Usually when a trend comes along, it’s because brands are responding to a perceived need among consumers. In a world of constant change, it’s important for CPG brands to identify these trends early on so that their engagement with consumers can continue to be relevant.
Here are three CPG food trends that have emerged in 2016:
As consumers gain more and more access to information that paints a bleak picture of the ingredients in the food that they are eating, they’re beginning to search for healthier alternatives. In response to this, many CPG food brands are now boasting their use of “clean” ingredients. Essentially, clean ingredients are those that don’t include artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, preservatives, etc.. As Clean Eating Magazine puts it, “Eating clean is about consuming food in its most natural, unprocessed state” (cleaneatingmag.com). CPG food brands who use clean ingredients should make sure that they communicate this fact somewhere on their packaging. The packaging design itself may reflect a healthy choice with complementary colors and images, and a phrase like, “Contains no artificial preservatives” or something to that effect can be printed in a place that’s easy to see.
Bolder and Spicier Flavors
Unlike their parents who seem to prefer mild and traditional flavors, millennials love spicy foods and other bold flavors. Because of this, brands that we’ve known for a long time have been releasing new flavors to cater to this new trend. It’s easier to buy hot sauce than it ever was, and the new Sweet Chili Heat Doritos are a huge hit! Millennials think about food differently, and they love making their meals into a complete experience. “They consider food an adventure and seek out different, ethnic and artisan foods” (millennialmarketing.com). Of course, other cultures have been eating spicy foods for thousands of years, but it’s really the millennials who have popularized these foods in North America.
Tackling Social Issues
Another interesting characteristic of the millennial generation is that are very aware of social issues and concerned about activism. These consumers want their purchases to do more than meet their needs, they also want them to somehow contribute to the lives of other people. CPG brands have been helping with this for some time now, but in 2016 we have seen this trend continue to emerge. The Financial Post reports that, “...there are increasing consumer demands for transparency on how companies perform when it comes to sustainability and corporate social responsibility, as well as where products are made” (financialpost.com). CPG food brands in particular need to be aware of this trend so that they can offer products to consumers who care about sustainability and ethical practices. This is one reason why you’ll see so many brands of fair trade coffee these days, or brands who boast their eco-friendly packaging.
Be Aware of CPG Trends
Your brand should not just react to trends that you see in other CPG brands. Instead, you need to conduct in-depth consumer research so that you understand your consumers and know what they are looking for based on the data that you uncover. Trends can change quickly, so it’s important that your brand gets ahead of them.