As they choose more healthful products, consumers are increasingly looking for items that fit their personal values and lifestyle."

Months into the pandemic, brands and retailers continue to navigate shopper sentiment and behavior, especially in the growing health-and-wellness category. As early as May, one-third of shoppers surveyed by Advantage Sales said they “expect they will be eating healthier foods three months from now.”

As they choose more healthful products, consumers are increasingly looking for items that fit their personal values and lifestyle, those that are not only good for them, but reinforce the way they perceive themselves. That may mean products that are environmentally friendly or clean label. Or it may mean foods and beverages that support plant-based eating or vegan diets or impart specific health benefits.

Here are four consumer trends brands and retailers should dial into:

Seeking Design-Forward and Tasty

Millennials, especially, expect a combination of function, good design and elevated taste in the food and beverages they consume. As other generations adopt these expectations, following chefs on Instagram and entertaining more at home (pre-COVID), more consumers will look for heathier, tasty foods in beautiful packaging.

Looking for Less Waste and Embracing Imperfection

With the pandemic, safety has temporarily taken precedence over sustainability in packaging, as consumers look for single-serve, tamper-poof products, which add to the waste stream. At the same time, COVID-19 has accelerated the desire to reduce food waste, prompting more widespread acceptance of “imperfect” fruits, vegetables and other products.

What’s My DNA Say?

Consumers are increasingly attracted to companies and products that provide a high level of personalization. They’re looking for brands that use digital technology and artificial intelligence to understand their specific needs, experiences and busy lifestyles and products that take genetics and DNA into account.

Interest in emerging biotech that will allow people to analyze and interpret their biological data and find the right nutrient sources for their bodies is growing. Expect personalized nutrition to gain ground as more consumers tap into their bodies’ inner workings to learn what food, beverages, nutrients and exercise will do them the most good.

Fawning Over Functional Foods

Consumers are looking for more bang for their buck. In addition to providing nutrients, consumers are choosing food and beverages because of the functional benefits they offer, such as increased energy, stress reduction or ingredients that promote gut health.

For instance, the U.S. probiotics market is projected to grow at an annual compounded rate of 7.7% to more than $74 million by 2025, according to Adroit Market Research. Functional foods and beverages are by far the biggest segment for probiotics, currently representing more than 82% of the total market. Expect new, fun probiotic drink flavors and forms, including entries riding the sparkling beverage trend.

COVID-19 has had a more direct effect on consumers’ desire for optimum cognitive performance, as millions of Americans work and attend school from home and focus becomes a challenge. Once a Silicon Valley biohack, nootropics — which including a range of natural and synthetic substances sold in supplements, fortified tea and coffee, and drinkable wellness shots — are starting to be found in chocolate, soft drinks and snacks to appeal to a wider audience and make them more accessible.

COVID-19 hasn’t changed what today’s consumers want from the health-and-wellness category. But it has intensified and accelerated interest and consumers’ desire to integrate these products into their lives.

Amanda Izquierdo, account planner for CSSI Marketing + Culinary, an Advantage Marketing Partners agency, contributed to this blog.

Alyssa Ambroz
Trend Manager

Alyssa joined JLB, an Advantage Sales agency for brands selling in Target stores, in 2012. She works in creative strategy, supporting a range of businesses, including grocery.

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