Mintel releases annual consumer packaged goods trend predictions

NEW YORK A “natural shakedown,” a twist on sustainability and "old is new" are some consumer packaged goods trends that are on the horizon for 2011, according to Mintel research.

“These annual predictions represent continuations of current big-picture trends, rather than major changes in the marketplace and what companies are doing,” stated Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel. “Understanding the major trend areas and how they change from year to year is essential for companies to be successful when developing and launching new products.”

Mintel has predicted a dozen consumer packaged goods trends that will impact product development in 2011 spanning across such categories as health and wellness, the environment, demographics, marketing and media, convenience, and indulgence. Six of these core trends include:

  • Quiet reduction: Sodium, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup 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.
  • Redefining natural: 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 the industry is due to see an intervention of regulatory bodies, according to Mintel. 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.
  • 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).
  • Sustainability stays focused on the basics: Sustainability is not slipping down the priority list; but instead of seeing new developments, expect to see 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.
  • Blurring categories: 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 frequently and being positioned as a source of refreshment, as well as sophistication. Beyond hybrid forms, Mintel also is seeing 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.
  • New retro: Over the last year, more big brands have revitalized old products and old ad campaigns, tapping into the escalating trend of nostalgia. Mintel anticipates 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. Expect to see this with brands using old formulations, old package designs, re-runs of advertising campaigns or new ads with a retro feel.

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