Examining consumer behaviors to discover the reasons and motivations behind their purchases is a complicated matter. And, given the tumultuous financial situation of the past few years, there are more factors than ever driving purchasing decisions.
But, despite how flush (or not) consumers feel, recent buying patterns indicate that health and well-being are important to today’s consumers. Many people have shown they will spend money on products that contribute to a healthy lifestyle. In fact, recent trends indicate they are spending hard-earned dollars on healthful foods and beverages, as well as beauty and personal care products that offer added ingredients and performance. Interestingly, many products now have been designed to touch both the food and broader beauty segments, paving the way for “beauty foods” in several markets.
Beauty consumers today demand more from the products they buy—value-added features are not necessarily a bonus, but more an expectation. In SymphonyIRI’s “2011 Beauty Shopper Report,” the key driver behind this expectation is clear—73% of consumers believe “leading a healthy lifestyle makes one more beautiful.”
It’s no surprise, then, that SymphonyIRI’s “Consumer Snacking Study” shows that 71% of consumers are trying to eat healthier, indicating that even when finances are tight, consumer focus on healthy eating is strong. And, consumer research has shown many to believe there is a direct correlation to eating healthier and being healthier—as well as potentially wealthier, thanks to fewer medical costs.
As many people fight to delay the signs of aging with a more proactive approach to self healthcare, they are taking an overall holistic approach to wellness. As a result, food and beverage products that offer benefits are in demand. Many categories, such as teas, fortified waters, better-for-you milk products and chocolate, have captured the spotlight by offering consumers great taste and health benefits.
Setting the Pace
In SymphonyIRI’s annual analysis of the year’s best-selling new CPG products, many of these categories made a notable impact last year, with some of them landing on our coveted New Product Pacesetters list. (Criteria for New Product Pacesetters include: at least $7.5 million in year-one sales across food, drug and mass channels, excluding Walmart; sales tracked after 30% ACV weighted distribution achieved; and a completed full year of sales.). This year’s Pacesetters products highlighted areas where manufacturers and retailers are successfully carving out growth despite, and sometimes because of, the fluctuating economy. And, many of the most powerful product launches clearly were affiliated with health and wellness.
Beverages represent a natural fit in the health and wellness arena, providing an easy delivery mechanism for added vitamins and minerals. Several beverages landed on the Top 10 Food & Beverage New Product Pacesetters ranking, with shelf-stable sports drink Powerade ION4 topping the list, joined by glaceau vitaminwater zero at No. 4. Both of these products cater to the active set and offer far more than simple thirst quenching by fueling workouts and delivering extra vitamins through flavorful and conveniently packaged products.
Trop50 refrigerated juice and Budweiser Select 55 also grabbed spots in the Top 10, offering the flavor of full-calorie products with significantly less calories. The success of these brand extensions can be attributed to manufacturers recognizing that while consumers are focused on health and wellness, and thus controlling calorie intake and diet, they do not want to sacrifice taste.
Rounding out the Food & Beverage Pacesetters list is a plethora of other products that contribute to healthy lifestyles. Milk, for instance, has a healthy profile and is consumed by the masses. But given the incidence of sensitivities and allergies to cow’s milk, as well as the robust nutritional value of soy and almonds, alternatives to traditional milk have made an impact in mainstream markets.
Better-for-you milks captured a few Pacesetter slots, with Silk Pure Almond at No. 11, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze at 17, Smart Balance Milk at 29 and Odwalla Protein at 79.
Clearly, manufacturers have grabbed a hold of consumer willingness to spend on value-added beverages. According to SymphonyIRI’s New Product Profiler, which tracks new product launches across segments and demographics, 2010 saw juices, milks and waters generate 41% of Pacesetter dollar sales in the beverage segment.
From the Outside In
What consumers eat and drink certainly affects health and wellness, but the effects of non-food products can make a big difference as well. SymphonyIRI’s non-food New Product Pacesetters list highlights this trend, featuring products that illustrate a story of consumers looking for the fountain of youth and opportunities to indulge, even in the midst of a difficult economy.
From self-applied teeth whitening products to professional-grade skincare products, the non-food Pacesetters clearly illustrate consumers’ willingness and commitment to fighting the signs of aging from the outside in. Our research shows that innovation in this area is challenging but rewarding and has driven growth in the beauty care market.
Innovation across health, beauty and personal care accounted for three-quarters of non-food Pacesetter dollars. This trend marks a sharp increase versus historical trends and has changed the face of the market.
Thanks to technology and ongoing development in ingredient performance, CPG manufacturers have been able to provide professional-grade products that deliver results—i.e., quality at a value compared with spa services and medical treatments.
Our New Product Profiler data show that 14% featured added vitamins and nutrients, highlighting the growing trend of value-added ingredients in non-food and food and beverage products alike.
Further, nearly 20% of successful launches in non-food categories boasted natural and/or organic attributes. Across grocery, drug and mass merchandise channels, sales of natural and organic non-edibles grew 17% and 7%, respectively. Clearly, consumers see value in natural and organic product attributes, and their purchasing decisions, regardless of a down economy, prove that an investment from manufacturers can pay off. Also keep in mind that consumers will pay a premium for what are perceived to be premium ingredients in food and beverage and non-food aisles alike.
Packaging that Sells
It’s not news that shoppers are highly influenced by a product’s appearance. Thus, product packaging plays a huge role in the purchase decision. However, as competition for the grocery dollar continues to heat up, food packaging needs to relay the value-added message clearly, highlighting ingredients and taste advantages particularly when demanding a higher price point. Non-food packaging needs to do the same, but even more important, it needs to reflect a certain image—especially if the products carry a higher price tag—because consumers want these products to reflect their personalities.
High-end images on personal care products can make consumers more comfortable spending because it contributes to a person’s self-image, an important marketing strategy in today’s ever-competitive market.
According to SymphonyIRI’s “MarketPulse Survey,” which focuses specifically on consumer behaviors and attitudes, 18% of consumers indicate that brand decisions are influenced by product packaging. For manufacturers and packaging designers, there is a notable opportunity to connect via packaging that educates consumers about how and why products will help them meet wellness and beauty goals. Consumers believe in brands, and from those brands they trust they seek information. Brands that educate, connect and deliver on those health and wellness messages will win.
Three-quarters of consumers make CPG decisions prior to entering the retail environment. For CPG marketers, messaging needs to stimulate interest in a brand and its image through various media and touch points outside the retail atmosphere. Brand marketers need to make media campaigns work hard for a brand outside the store so that when consumers are faced with those split-second decisions at the shelf, that early interaction which plants the seed of health and wellness is supported by packaging that will capture the sale.
He’s the One
Of course, primary grocery shoppers in households across the country continue to be women, but more male shoppers are affecting markets too, and the health and wellness and beauty segments are no exception.
SymphonyIRI’s research shows that a stunning amount of men are spending significant dollars on personal care products as they, too, fight the signs of aging and seek opportunities to pamper themselves at home. Recent consumer insight research shows that men are often splurging on premium items to a greater extent than female shoppers.
SymphonyIRI’s recent “Point of View” report on male shopping trends identifies the down economy’s effect on male spending. Like other demographics, men are spending more carefully and making sacrifices. Our research shows that one in three men is going to the beauty salon less frequently, and one in four men is going to the doctor less often in an effort to save money. Both of these behaviors are potential boons for CPG marketers in the personal care and male grooming segments.
Yet, while male shoppers are scaling back, wooing them into spending money may be an easier feat than with women. Our research indicates that male shoppers are showing a lesser inclination to change versus female shoppers.
But, nearly all consumers indicated they have embraced new approaches to shopping—focusing more than ever on value, seeking deals via all sorts of media, making lists, using products more efficiently and other strategic moves—and that many of these behaviors will be sustained in the coming year. Consumers say they plan to leverage these money-saving techniques even as the overall financial picture improves.
The Baby Boomer Effect
Like the male demographic, the Baby Boomer consumer group provides ample opportunity for marketers that can identify and deliver what this impactful demographic wants. In personal care and beauty, this includes anything that contributes to a healthy lifestyle and fights the signs of aging, both internally and aesthetically.
Though Boomers—like everyone else—felt financial pain and experienced notable losses during the recession, comparatively they represent a wealthy group thanks to already established and long careers, and opportunities to save during more flush eras. Some in this generation have been forced to work slightly longer than expected, pushing off retirement. At the same time, many Boomers are active, motivated and less inclined to sit back and relax.
Certainly, they’re motivated to retire, but that’s not to say they won’t be active and continue to care for themselves and spend money doing both of those things. Baby Boomers have shown again and again in the past decade that they have money to spend on fighting aging. They’re also living active and healthy lifestyles and demanding products to enhance their choices.
For example, they, too, are likely cutting back visits to the salon and spa, but they’re not sacrificing image and have bought into at-home hair care and grooming products, as well as indulgent, luxurious spa-like products for home use. They want to look good and feel good, and CPG marketers that hone in on these desires can capture some serious spend with Baby Boomers.
A Bright Future
Overall, SymphonyIRI’s market data, paired with consumer analytics, point to a very bright future for both food and beverage and non-food products that support the ever-growing interest in health and well-being. Consumers are and will continue to eat to prevent and manage common ailments, and they will self-medicate and pamper themselves with at-home products, ultimately creating a health-focused routine and lifestyle.
Demand for healthier food and beverage options is expected to see continued growth. Futher, the segment will continue to benefit as the economy recovers and people that already are spending in this market will become more and more comfortable trying new products and spending more, all to the benefit of progressive CPG players.
Brand marketers and manufacturers that focus on health and well-being and deliver products that perform thanks to added ingredients and features are well suited to ride out the rest of this wild economic era. In turn, they will contribute to a new era in CPG development and marketing that respects consumers’ complex approach to lifestyle—one that comes from many directions.
About the author:
Susan Viamari is editor of SymphonyIRI’s “Times & Trends,” a monthly research report that provides information and insights into trends that are shaping the CPG and retail industries. She serves a crucial role in developing, implementing and communicating SymphonyIRI’s thought leadership research, bringing effective strategies and innovative solutions to the CPG and retail industries.