10 FMCG trends to watch out for in 2018

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2018 is shaping up to be a year of contradictions in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market. Healthy junk food is emerging as a snack food trend, but consumers are also re-discovering indulgence via a counter-trend called sweet revenge that celebrates all that is sweet according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company. These are two of ten new trends that the company expects to influence packaged goods innovation and marketing in 2018.

Tom Vierhile, Innovation Insights Director at GlobalData, commented, ‘‘Navigating choppy FMCG markets in 2018 could be dicey as a year of contradictions takes shape. We see friction-free shopping and the extreme convenience it provides gaining ground over the next 12 months. But do-it-yourself products that allow one to proclaim “I made it” are also trending, and go in the opposite direction. Tradition will be honored with new products that cheer regional pride, but tradition will also be upended with new gender-bending beauty products and taboo-tackling personal care products.’’

Here are 10 trends to watch out for fast-moving consumer goods in 2018:

1. Sugar revenge. Sugar has been trending as the top health villain for a while, but signs are emerging that not everyone is taking this view as some food and beverage makers are celebrating sugar with super-indulgent frozen novelties, beverages, and desserts. This is happening in categories like premium chocolate where Nestlé is launching a new line of Swiss chocolate bars in the UK with its Les Recettes De L’Atelier range. Celebrating sugar instead of apologizing for it may be an early sign of “better for you” fatigue. If so, we could see more “dirty label” (instead of “clean label”) product launches in 2018 that flout current health trends and celebrate indulgence.

2. “I made it.” Nothing tastes as good, looks as good, or works as well as a product you helped create. The “I made it” trend celebrates this sentiment and taps a growing consumer desire for control, self-sufficiency, personalization, and transparency. According to a Q3 2016 survey by GlobalData, a majority of consumers globally – 60% – say they find the concept of products they helped create to be appealing. FMCG manufacturers will be looking to find new ways to allow consumers to put a personal stamp on the products they use and enjoy. Very much on-trend is new Urban Decay Drop Shot, a mix in facial oil that allows the consumer to tweak their own makeup products.

3. Tackling taboos. Personal issues like sexual health, menopause, pregnancy, and gender-related hygiene issues that used to be whispered about are now going public, fueling new product innovation. Social media has played a part in making personal issues public. This is paving the way for products that address formerly taboo subjects, like the VMagic “feminine lips stick” which addresses vulvar discomfort. The world’s first anti-viral condom (Ansell Lifestyles Dual Protect) that provides extra protection against sexually transmitted infections like HPV is another example.

4. Make it regional. FMCG companies are increasingly appealing to consumers by launching products with regional provenance thorough flavors, ingredients, recipes, and more. Though consumers may express a preference for local ingredients and flavors, local is difficult for big brands to achieve. As an alternative, big brands are connecting with consumers by using regional flavors and ingredients that tap into regional and home country pride. Japan’s Kirin Brewery has harnessed this trend in their product portfolio by offering 47 varieties of its Ichiban Shibori beer, one for each of Japan’s 47 prefectures.

5. Healthy junk food. Snacks considered to be junk food are getting a healthy makeover with “better for you” ingredients. Snack makers are using ingredients perceived as being “better for you” as a virtue-signaling mechanism to induce health-conscious consumers to try snacks that may have previously been off limits for health and nutrition reasons. Healthful ingredients like avocado and coconut oil along with plant-based proteins are changing the face of so-called ‘junk food’. Novel ingredients like jackfruit and moringa are also finding their way into junk food, which are challenging consumer perceptions. Look for innovators to disrupt popular, but nutrition-challenged sectors like puffed snacks with products like Vedic Brands Lily Puffs which is part of a wave of healthful puffed snacks made from the seeds of an Asian water lily plant.

6. Gender-bending beauty. Changing views toward gender identity are impacting the beauty market by blurring the lines between female and male beauty. The blurring of these traditional binary gender identities is opening the door for concepts like genderless beauty and other crossover innovation. The first makeup stores for men will make an appearance this year like MMUK Man’s new brick-and-mortar store in the UK together with fragrances that are appropriate for all genders and other game-changing developments.

7. Magic bubbles. Healthful drink makers are adding carbonation to their products in order to steal sales from traditional carbonated soft drinks (CSDs) that are often perceived by consumers to be unhealthy. Coconut water, ready-to-drink tea, cold-brew coffee, and fruit juice are among a number of packaged beverage variants that are adding carbonation to offer consumers a choice to traditional carbonated soft drinks. Beverage giant PepsiCo, for instance, is placing a big bet on calorie-free sparkling water with the US launch of Bubly in February.

8. Friction-free shopping. Friction-free shopping is all about making the buying process as convenient (and in some cases as automatic) as possible. Advancements like the promise of cashier-less stores (Amazon Go, just opened to the public in January) and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant are removing friction from FMCG shopping while establishing new purchase and shopping behaviors. Some appliances like General Electric’s new Wi-Fi connected clothes dryer with Dash Replenishment reordering capability can even order their own supplies, an FMCG game changer.

9. Plant-power beyond food/drink. Plant-based ingredients are changing food and beverage markets, but the plant revolution is spreading beyond food and drink. Plant-based ingredients and formulations are beginning to change personal care and household product markets. FMCG non-food makers are turning to plant-based ingredients to create products seen as more sustainable and less likely to cause harm from harsh chemicals. According to GlobalData’s Q1 2017 consumer survey, global consumers are especially bullish about their preference for ingredients like natural and essential oils for personal care products, and vinegar for household products. That means we’ll be seeing more launches like Unilever’s new Love Beauty and Planet hair and body personal care line with plant ingredients like coconut oil and ethically-sourced essential oils.

10. Declaring war on plastic. Solid waste and pollution issues are catching up with plastic, so much so that 2018 could mark the beginning of a “war on plastic.” Packaged goods makers are beginning to move away from traditional plastic packaging, and toward sustainable options like sugarcane “plastic” tubes as well as bowls made from plant fibers. But the “war on plastic” is about more than just packaging; growing concern over the presence of microplastics in the oceans land water eco systems is casting the long term viability of personal care ingredients like microbeads and glitter into question. Look for beverage makers to respond to the trend, as Nestle Waters North America is doing in February with the launch of Nestlé Pure Life purified water in new bottles made from 100 percent food grade recycled plastic (rPET).

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