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    Top Consumer Trends Shaping Food, Beverage, and Alcohol

    February 20, 2023
    8 minute read
    Top Consumer Trends Shaping Food, Beverage, and Alcohol

    From a renewed push for wellness to a growing concern for product ingredients and sourcing, several new consumer trends in the food, beverage, and alcohol space will spur changes in the future.

    And brands that stay ahead of what's to come will be at a competitive advantage in one of the most aggressive industries.

    Here are the top consumer trends in food, beverage, and alcohol, highlighting how consumer wants, needs, and preferences evolve as quickly as the seasons.

    1. Plant-Based and Alternative Proteins

    Bloomberg Intelligence (BI) estimates that the plant-based food market will make up 7.7% of the protein market worldwide by 2030. Plant-based and alternative proteins have seen significant growth in recent years, with brands like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods leading the charge.

    Surprisingly, the growth of this trend isn't directly tied to plant-based diets. In the U.S., for example, 93% of households that purchased plant-based meat in 2022 also purchased animal-based meat, according to the Good Food Institute. From health and wellness to sustainability and environmental concerns, shoppers are interested in these products for a number of reasons.

    According to NeilsenIQ Intelligence, this is one of the most significant shifts in the food industry, reporting that “the tidal wave of plant-based food demand doesn’t appear temporary, but likely represents a lasting shift in consumer preferences.”

    2. Low- and No-Alcohol Drinks

    The global low- and no-alcohol beverage category accounted for more than $11 billion in sales in 2022, according to data from alcohol market firm IWSR — and they estimate it will continue to grow by more than 33% by 2026. Trending products include low- and no-alcohol beer, cider, wine, spirits, and ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails and mocktails.

    There are several theories to account for the growth of low- and no-alcohol beverages, including:

    • Decreasing interest in alcohol consumption to support health and wellness;
    • Interest in challenges like "Dry January," which is a month-long, after-the-holidays swearing-off of alcohol to reset; and
    • Lack of interest in drinking alcohol among younger generation groups like Generation Z and millennials.

    For brands within the alcohol space, this growing trend is an excellent opportunity for innovation and connection with new audiences.

    3. Health and Wellness Products

    The Global Wellness Institute predicts the wellness economy will reach roughly $7 trillion by 2025, which includes "healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss." Shoppers are increasingly searching for health and wellness products across food, beverage, and alcohol.

    Food trends like plant-based proteins, probiotics, alternative caffeine choices, and low- and no-alcoholic drinks are some of the top drivers of this renewed interest in health and wellness products.

    Other examples of health and wellness values for food, beverage, and alcohol products include:

    • Gluten-free
    • Sugar-free
    • Peanut-free
    • Cruelty-free
    • Clean
    • Naturally made
    • Locally grown
    • Fair trade
    • Paraben-free
    • Low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP)
    • Plant-based
    • Clean-labeled

    Collect and analyze customer data to understand what your target customers are looking for from your brand. Consider if there are opportunities to highlight health and wellness features for your products.

    Make it clear how your products benefit consumers’ health on the packaging. Label your food, beverage, and alcohol with trusted certifications like organic and non-GMO, Whole Foods Compliance, or vegan to build consumer trust and encourage buying confidence. 

    4. Transparency and Clean Labeling

    Product transparency and clean labeling, the push for simple and transparent product labeling, are some of the top trends in the food, beverage, and alcohol industries. Shoppers want to quickly and easily understand what your products are made of and how they're produced.

    But research from NielsenIQ Intelligence indicates that brands aren’t keeping up with these consumer demands for product transparency and brand trust.

    “Most retailers offer a limited number of product attribute search filters (such as ‘keto’ or ‘vegan’). [...] Although website navigation and search functionality play a role in this poor experience, the root cause is incomplete and inaccurate product data. Consequently, online shoppers searching for specific need-states are often presented with incomplete or inaccurate search results,” reports NielsenIQ Intelligence.

    Consider these factors when building product detail pages, and ensure that you include all relevant information wherever a customer would interact with your products. A product experience management (PXM) solution could help you build engaging, consistent product experiences across all of your priority channels — from in-store to online.

    Start Capitalizing on Consumer Trends

    By following the top trends in the food, beverage, and alcohol space, your brands can stay ahead of changes in the market and buying behaviors — ensuring you keep up in one of the most competitive markets. Take advantage of these opportunities for innovation within your processes for product development, product activation, and data management.

    By driving innovation at your brand, you can fulfill shopper expectations, make them stick around, and become lasting customers.

    Written by: Lavender Nguyen

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