Right on trend – market insight16 December 2014
Beverage Packaging Innovation and Canadean identify a range of trends that will impact beverages and the associated packaging from 2015 onwards.
Consumers are being driven more and more by aspirational desire, which will continue to be reflected in the products that they purchase aided by better value for money, which is particularly important in the current economic environment in Western economies where people are constantly looking to stretch their finances further. This could be through scaling down to lower-priced items or swapping brands, but it could also mean they will trade-up to a higher-priced item if there is a value to the consumer in doing so.
We are trying to fit more activities into the same finite amount of time we have available to us each day. Juggling work, home life, our own personal wishes, and the desire to be close to friends and family means that we are trying to split our time by connecting with everyone, but this is increasingly difficult. Any product that increases the sense of occasion, is convenient, easy to use and enhances the moment will continue to support consumers in their busy lives and provide purchase opportunities.
Sociodemographically, there are two persistent trends that will continue to influence the beverage packaging industry for the coming years. The age structures of many countries are evolving - from the aging populations in developed countries in the West to the rapid increase in younger generations in developing countries, challenging manufacturers to adapt their products and address preconceptions about what those age groups want and need. Combined with the shifting age dynamics, there is a persistent change in life structures. People are delaying settling down, marriage and childbirth, evolving the traditional life-stage patterns and, as a result, have different needs from their consumer packaged goods (CPG) purchases. Companies that are able to adapt to these demographic changes will see protracted growth.
With these increasingly busy lives, the changing labour markets and break up of traditional family structures, many people are being left with the strong desire to rectify the loss of personal connections they feel previous generations enjoyed. Being close to friends and family is felt more keenly and there has been an explosion in technology to allow people to stay 'connected' to what's important to them. Whether it's with friends and family, social media or improving the quality of the time they spend with others, these are all manifestations of connection.
There are a growing number of consumers who are concerned (even if they do not always act upon these concerns) about their own ethics and spirituality. In turn, many consumers are increasingly critical of the ethical and related credentials of the products or services they buy, and the providers of them. This ethical trend is growing in importance and combined with another growing mega-trend of experience-seeking.
Many consumers are seeking to go beyond the simple act of owning and consuming products, and instead are seeking to attain greater value by seeking products and services that somehow offer rewarding experiences. This can take many forms and can be related to other trends. For example, consuming a very high-quality food or drink may not only satisfy a need for quality, but the act of consumption in itself may well also have value as an experience that will not soon be forgotten.
With this move towards experience, many consumers, young and old, and not least in these challenging economic times, are seeking additional fun and enjoyment from their experience, and will often choose CPG products as a result of these needs.
While we are seeking these experiences and trying to remain connected, there has been a constant move towards expressing our individuality. In an age of mass consumerism, global brands, rules and regulations, many people are often seeking to express their individual identities, personalities, needs and wants where possible. As a result, products and services that can tap into this trend by offering people the chance to express themselves as individuals will see ever increasing opportunity for growth.
Beyond enjoyment, in almost every country, consumers are increasingly worried about their overall well-being and specifically their health. The wider social effects of growing obesity rates and sedentary lifestyles have led to growth in consumer concern about their own health, and impacted their willingness to choose products and services that might result in health benefits. Health is and will continue to be one of the leading future trends for packaging.
However, in line with the previously mentioned enjoyment and value placed on time, one of the largest financial opportunities lies with indulgence. From little rewards to big ones, consumers are increasingly seeking ways in which they can indulge their desires and achieve the feel-good factor this can create, even if this is only temporary. Adding to a sense of occasion and creating a product that will allow one to feel indulgent, without sacrificing value ethics or health, presents brands with a platform for enormous return.
A slightly anomalous trend is in media; though the fragmentation of media may reduce the influence of media outlets, the ubiquity of media influence and access means it will continue to shape our habits even though consumers are trying to downplay its influence.
Trust in me
One of the most pervasive and largest trends is trust. From the breakdown in trust in institutions, governments and companies, to concerns over specific ingredients in consumer goods, trust is increasingly a major concern for consumers, and means that companies must deliver on the quality of their products and on their brand or marketing messaging, as if either fail consumers can and will broadcast the failing worldwide very quickly; thus, trust that has taken a brand decades to build can be lost all too quickly.
The pace of technological change (not just in communication, but in other areas too) means many are keen to try out the latest on offer and are willing to experiment in order to gain the benefits, and, for some, be among the first to experience them. This willingness to respond to technology uptake will continue to develop into a core trend in the coming years.
Where shifting patterns of urbanisation, as major economies develop and people move to where work plays a role in fundamentally shaping people's needs - especially when it comes to CPG purchases - the packaged-food and drinks needs of the average urban dweller can differ remarkably to those of the rural dweller, shifting the balance between which types of products are best placed in the market.