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29 September 2022

The new consumer: from joy to caution

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4 min.
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Alimarket Gran Consumo

The world events of the last two years, with a pandemic, the rising cost of raw materials and a war on European soil, which has further opened the crack of the energy crisis that was brewing, have shaken the social, political and economic foundations. The present and the near future are shrouded in uncertainty and the consumer, who has shown his great capacity for resilience, is keeping a cautious eye on the situation.

In this current context, different types of consumers have emerged, with habits that set the tone for today's market. On the one hand, we see buyers who have become more aware of economic problems and high price inflation, as well as care for the planet. Shortages, shortages, distribution delays and the growing importance of sustainability have driven a back-to-nature movement and more moderate consumption. Hence, the demand for organic products, those that are marketed in more sustainable packaging, those that are grown with better practices and care for the environment, and those that use ethical transportation. At this point, we see how some companies have already begun to take action on this last issue. As reported by the consulting firm Mintel, the Swedish subsidiary of Lidl announced that it was no longer purchasing food transported by plane in order to reduce its water footprint. It is beginning to grow in the minds of many consumers that the more distant the origin of the food and beverages marketed by an establishment, the greater its impact on the environment. Reducing CO2 emissions is an objective that goes beyond the distance traveled. In Latvia, for example, ICA crushed tomatoes are sold in stackable containers to optimize transport, while in Norway, Eldorado tropical nectar is made from concentrate, which reduces transport volume by 80%, since the water is added during the production process. Consumers are also looking to make the carbon footprint concept more tangible.

Another of the values that today's consumers demand from companies is honesty, as well as ethical commitments from brands as a long-term strategy. Continuing with information from Mintel, consumers want to know more about the brands they buy and want them to convey this in a transparent way. In addition to highlighting their strengths, they want them to show their weaknesses as well as the plan to address them in the future. And in this current inflationary context they also value those companies and brands that are able to explain where the current increase in the cost of products is coming from. Mintel found that around 80% of consumers in the Asia-Pacific region said they would be loyal to brands that were transparent with customers when it came to explaining price increases. Thus, creating a narrative of value in terms of safety, wellness, nutrition... will be most positive.

The cheerful consumer

In a context marked by so much uncertainty and negative news, some consumers need fun in their daily lives, and are open to experiment and seek joy in everyday life. And here brands can be an essential vehicle to highlight positivity through new products, formats, packaging..., which also offer playful interactions. At this point, the use of social networks or the introduction of gamified elements can be a success. And the fact is that with a consumer with a more digital lifestyle, companies are accelerating their digitization, which is why in the last two years the number of online stores in the fruit and vegetable sector has grown, and online sales in supermarkets continue to increase, once the customer has felt comfortable and satisfied with the service. And the segment in which we see the greatest consolidation is the seniors group. According to LLYC's report on the ten biggest consumer trends in 2022, online usage is growing among the over-65s, a fact that should not be ignored.

On the other hand, the demand for in-home experiences will increase, hence product kits, digital cooking classes, snacking and products with emotional bonding through texture and taste are likely to grow. Manufacturers of fresh-cut and pre-prepared and pre-cooked convenience foods, as well as fruit and vegetable marketers, know a lot about this and are joining this trend with new proposals.

Health as a selling point

Overweight, mental illness, aging, pollution, sugar abuse, etc. are all issues of concern to consumers, which is why eating healthy has become a major issue for many people. Fruits, vegetables and fresh-cut and pre-prepared convenience products have a lot to contribute here. The latter, in addition to offering health, offer convenience and time, which are very precious commodities nowadays. And it is in the "now" and the "now" that many companies have found a way to differentiate themselves in the face of a more impatient and demanding consumer.

According to the consulting firm Mintel, 45% of Japanese people say that having a busy lifestyle makes it very difficult to eat a healthy diet. Hence, companies in the sector still have a great opportunity to satisfy this consumer, who in addition to eating healthy, wants their wellbeing. Many of them will be willing to spend more to take care of themselves. According to Euromonitor, products with health claims, particularly those related to the immune system, mood and concentration control, are on the rise as consumers become more aware of how foods can naturally help strengthen health and prevent disease.