Although consumer behaviour is shaped by a wide range of internal and external factors, there are several themes that have a significant influence on buying choices. For many consumers, concern regarding the effects of the pandemic, as well as anxiety regarding the future of the planet, has prompted them to change their shopping behaviour. The current FMCG market is dominated by demand for products that promote wellness, environmental responsibility, and a kinder, more compassionate lifestyle

Here we consider some examples of how manufacturers and hospitality businesses have taken advantage of this trend to increase their sales, as well as suggest how other businesses who wish to push their brand as one that fits the health and wellness niche can create a product that ticks the right boxes.

The rise of Kombucha, bottled water and non-alcoholic beverages

Recent figures show that sales of kombucha are likely to reach US $1.8 billion by the end of 2021. A fermented tea product that originated in China, kombucha is lauded for its health benefits. Similarly, sales of bottled water are predicted to top US $1,105 million in 2021, with an average growth in the market of 4.59% predicted between 2021 and 2026. Low-alcohol wine has been another success story – current predictions suggest that its market share is likely to increase by 15% year on year from 2021 to 2025.

There are a number of similarities between these products; not only do they claim health benefits, but they’re also designed to be luxurious, indulgent products. Smaller manufacturers are able to compete successfully with more established names by crafting brand stories that emphasise the premium nature of their product, its ethical and environmental credentials, and the active nature of its healthful properties. 

The rise of organic and/or plant-based meals.

Recent studies suggest that Australia is second in the world for veganism. The number of vegans and vegetarians is predicted to increase as time goes on. Many people are stopping meat consumption due to health, environmental and ethical concerns. This trend has opened up the market for plant-based foodstuffs. 

Just like everybody else, vegans don’t always have the time to make their meals from scratch or search for plant-based snacks amongst the huge variety available. This has prompted a demand for everything from luxury plant-based snacks as an indulgence to plant-based ready meals, vegan fast food and “make it quickly” kits. 

Plant-based eating is perceived as a way to enjoy clean, healthy nutrition that also tastes amazing. For manufacturers, marketing plant-based products as a healthy, ethical choice is a great way to tap a market that’s only going to get bigger. Paradoxically, sales of vegan processed products are growing at a faster rate than natural foods that are vegan (fruit, for example). If you’re planning on launching a vegan FMCG, now is a great time to do it!

The success story that several plant-based food manufacturers have made shows that building a strong brand is paramount for sustainable sales growth. Dairy-Free Down Under, for example, is seeing sales soar of non-dairy cheeses and spreads. Many traditional manufacturers are also boosting sales by introducing a plant-based addition to their current merchandise. Nestle, for example, has introduced a plant-based KitKat as an alternative to the traditional dairy containing Kitkat. Four n Twenty has launched a meat-free, plant-based pie and most major fast-food chains now have plant-based alternatives on their menus.

Of particular interest is the growth in “alt-protein” products – items that are plant-based, but marketed as direct alternatives to traditional meat products. Alt protein options include burgers, sausages, steaks, grills, rashers and pies that are all 100% meat and dairy-free. Alt protein items are designed to provide an indulgent treat (similar to a meat burger or patty), at the same time as being marketed as a healthier, kinder and more ethical choice. With a great taste along with great values, alt protein products usually achieve spectacular sales in the current environment.

How can businesses take advantage of these trends?

By recognising what the main trends are with respect to healthy eating, food as a wellness product and ethical considerations, it’s possible to create a brand identity that’s going to work well in the current climate. For businesses in the hospitality business, adding plant-based alternatives to your menu is almost always going to be a winner. Food and beverage manufacturers may wish to consider launching plant-based alternatives or drinks that are designed to promote wellness and/or a more natural lifestyle. 

Ideally, a plant-based product needs to taste amazing, at the same time as having impeccable, plant-based credentials. From recyclable or reusable packaging to the use of ethically sourced materials and ingredients, a plant-based wellness product should show evidence of care in its sourcing, manufacturing and distribution. 

The right brand stories are essential for wellness and food-based health products. Key messages include “being kind to yourself”, “non-guilty pleasures”, “good for you and the planet”, “high-grade nutrition”, “natural ingredients”, “health benefits” and “ethical sourcing”. 

Research shows that consumers are tending to buy their foodie treats in bulk, often online. One of the results of lockdown shopping restrictions is that consumers are less likely to impulse-buy a treat whilst they’re out and about, and more likely to stock up on a regular basis. Another consequence of spending more time at home is that consumers want to create restaurant-class meals without leaving the house. Convenience and ease are also rated highly – meal kits, for example, are growing in popularity as people look for ways to recreate their favourite restaurant dishes quickly and easily at home. 

The growing interest in wellness foodstuffs and healthy, plant-based living is also reflected in other consumer behaviours besides food choices. For example, employee incentives such as EFTPOS Gift Cards, which can be spent with ethical retailers, are a popular option. If you want a market to diversify into that’s predicted to grow year on year, despite the difficulties the pandemic continues to cause, tapping into the more mindful Australian consumer could be a good option.

If you are looking for flexible card designs, Rewards Come True offers a range of EFTPOS and Visa gift cards where businesses can customise their own brandings onto the gift cards. Need help getting started? Call the team on 1800 043 656.

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