It isn’t news that the world shifted dramatically because of the pandemic. Most of the conversations have been around tangible scenarios – i.e., where we live, where we work, and where we shop. These changes have brought tectonic shifts that grab the headlines in real estate market shifts, The Great Resignation, and the management battles of hybrid vs. office.
The next phase of the impact of these shifts on the consumer product goods / fast-moving consumer goods (CPG and FMCG) industry will determine the leaders and laggards in the hearts and minds of consumers and shoppers. The start of these shifts was on full display at the 25th Annual Sweets and Snacks Expo in Chicago before Memorial Day.
One overarching trend that was evident was how the industry has moved towards crucial areas such as sustainability, food sensitivities, and organic production – due to the shift towards brand purpose and consumer trends towards healthier options.
One other critical area that manufacturers demonstrated was based on consumer insights intersected with meeting the shopper needs of portion/calorie control, portability, and the collision of flavors – in sweet & salty, sweet & spicy, and tons of licensed products to expand flavor profiles across products.
Some other observations across the show floor included:
Shark Tank Effect:
It seems as if there are more and more food products featured each week on the Shark Tank, and that’s evident through seeing previous founders and their products on display. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a “Shark Tank” section at future events!
Selective Indulgence Meets Choiceful Health:
Manufacturers were not shy about providing more and more indulgent options – but only when married with single-serve, individually wrapped and other easy to snack yet made to not overindulge packaging.
Founder and Product Stories:
In addition to the trend toward purpose-driven brands, the industry was eager to put their story on display. In many cases, the story of the founder and their inspiration and life stories while larger manufacturers shared key insights around the shopping experience and the need for added value, the shopping experience, and the value/deal impacting the perceived quality.
One consistent driver of these product and category trends that was evident was that the breakthrough products and differentiators for success at the shelf were going to be made through value and experiences. Shoppers want their products and retailers to provide value and be mindful about what truly denotes value – aligning with core values, additional value beyond couponing, and having fun along their customer journey. Consumers and shoppers want social and fun – and want to feel like they are part of a community. Sometimes that community is exhibited via social and sustainable values, and sometimes it is in the form of how they attain added value within their purchases. The industry also shows that consumers will find value in an explosion of flavors and gravitate towards products that lead the charge across the themes that were on display. Brands need to differentiate now more than ever – and get the shopper to try their new products, invest in them and understand their defined value.
By: Paul Robinson
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