How COVID-19 is shaping global consumer trends
In their recent webinar, Euromonitor's Michelle Evans, senior head of digital consumer research, and Alison Angus, head of lifestyles, discussed how the pandemic has bolstered certain consumer mega-trends that were present pre-COVID, and paused others.
Those most relevant to the health and nutrition space are outlined in this article.
Angus explains the 'Healthy living' mega-trend is comprised of three sub-trends: Health as lifestyle, nutritional balance and preventative health.
"Consumers are adopting a more holistic approach to wellbeing - one which supports their spiritual and mental wellbeing as well as their physical health.
"Purchase decisions increasingly revolve around what health benefits products and services can give them. This pursuit of optimal wellness is key for future product development."
She says this trend has been bolstered by the pandemic and new habits created around preventative health are set to further gain ground in the longer term.
"Health is the new status symbol. The focus on healthy homes, increasing physical activity and improving emotional wellbeing... Consumers are taking much more ownership of their own health and being more pro-active choosing preventative options like using nutrition, supplements and adopting health apps.
"The pandemic has heightened this as the stress and loneliness of the virus and the lockdown has made mental health a priority. This has led to a spike which will be followed by a long term shift.
"Globally people of all ages are adopting healthier nutritional habits and paying more attention to ingredients, looking for functional ingredients and plant-based alternatives. The origin of the virus is playing on people minds but also people see plant alternatives as a much healthier alternative.
"This trend has been accelerated due to the pandemic and is going to be a key long term focus for consumers."
Evans explains that the 'connected consumers' mega-trend is driven by three sub-trends: The Internet of everything, digital democratisation and lifestyle change.
She explains that 'always on' is the new normal, with people remaining online and connected at all times. She says, even before the pandemic, speed, convenience and instant access were becoming increasingly valued benefits of goods and services but she says the crisis and the lockdown have turned digitalisation into an imperative part of life.
"Habits developed during the crisis - including online shopping, remote learning, streaming entertainment, working from home - will likely continue to take place at higher rates post COVID."
Middle Class Retreat
The 'middle class retreat' is all about people searching for the best deals and gaining pleasure from knowing they've bought at a great price. This may have been put on pause during the crisis as necessity overtook frugality.
One sub-trend to this is 'glorified frugality', explains Evans. This refers to that fact that consumers are embracing thriftier lifestyles and focusing on reducing waste, leading to new business innovations based on resale and upcycling. However, she points out that fear of virus spread has put people off sharing right now so sharing platforms have stalled.
Another sub trend is the 'thrill of the deal'.
"We see consumers getting more of a thrill out of finding a deal rather than the product itself," explains Evans. "Right now, deals are off the table and consumers’ focus is on staying safe and being able to buy essentials. Longer term though we see this shifting up a gear as anxiety levels take this search away from a thrill, and toward a need."
The 'experience more' mega-trend sees consumers prioritising experiences over products.
Pre-COVID, brands were working to create a strong emotional connection with their consumers through interactive innovations, explains Evans. Brands were weaving a digital elements into their story telling so they can also merge into the virtual world. But the crisis has supercharged this trends as it has caused consumers to actively seek interaction online, making them more comfortable with virtual conferencing, whether that be social, work or education.
Evans adds that consumers now expect to see 'reinforced benefits'. She explains that brands can take a 'laser sharp view' at the efficacy of their products, especially where health is involved and this has become an expectation from consumers nowadays.
"We are seeing consumers connect almost exclusively from the comfort and safety of their homes. Economic uncertainty is leading them to be more selective in their spending which provides more momentum for the middle class retreat mega-trend."