On the beverage front, multiple benefits is key. Miller Chill is a light beer with the unique flavors of lime and salt. Diet Pepsi Max offers ginseng in addition to caffeine, and Coke Zero Cherry offers a sweet, indulgent taste.
And while health and wellness attributes continue to be vitally important, we are also seeing more indulgent products with added benefits. Hormel Complete meals are shelf-stable and ready to eat in 90-seconds. DiGiorno Ultimate frozen pizza contains premium ingredients. Oreo Cakesters and Hostess 100-Calorie packs offer portion control.
Dreyer’s/Edy’s Loaded ice cream is loaded with indulgent mix-ins, such as cookie dough and brownies, creating an ice cream shop experience.
It is, indeed, important to note that while consumers are trying to eat healthier, change has been slow. IRI’s 2008 Snacking Study found consumers still allocate two-thirds of their snack spending to indulgent products — evidence there is still room for innovation in indulgent products as well as in healthier ones.
But health and wellness is the industry’s mantra. “During the next year, demand will explode for functional food and beverages that deliver health benefits beyond basic nutrition,” says Berlack. “Retailers and manufacturers that marry functional benefits with effective consumer education, as Dannon did this year with DanActive immunity-boosting beverages, will win big.”
IRI’S Trendwatching for 2008
Food as Health Solution
The appearance of several functional food and beverages on this year’s Pacesetters list points to a very powerful underlying trend that will gain significant momentum in the coming year: consumers are increasingly viewing food and beverages as health solutions.
Products delivering disease management and prevention benefits will be far more prevalent over the next few years, and increased availability will further fuel changes in consumer attitudes and approach to diet. Antioxidants, immunity-boosting ingredients, cholesterol-lowering ingredients and digestive aids will be in high demand.
Consumers are increasingly seeking exceptional experiences—both sensory and premium. Demand is on fire for new tastes and flavors, fueled by demographic shifts, including population aging (as we lose our sense of taste when we age) and growth in ethnic markets. In addition, despite an unfavorable economy, consumers are gravitating toward premium products across select product categories, including chocolate, coffee and beer. This quest for unique, satisfying experiences likely will not wane if we officially head into recession, as small indulgences become even more important when times get tough.
With one-fifth of consumers “sustainability-driven” in their brand choice, there is a major opportunity to differentiate food and beverage brands through packaging that is reduced, biodegradable or made from recycled materials. Yet, few food and beverage manufacturers have made significant packaging changes to date. Fewer still have communicated sustainability improvements in packaging or other areas directly to consumers—opening up a whole new source of competitive advantage for early market leaders in this space.
The enormous success of Birds Eye Steamfresh, which leverages steam-cooking technology, will pave the way for a major focus on new cooking methodologies that deliver added convenience, as well as other technologies to preserve food freshness and flavor.
2007-2008 New Product Pacesetters Rising Stars
(Projected Top 10 Brands in Alphabetical Order)
Coke Zero Cherry
Diet Pepsi Max
Healthy Choice Café Steamers
Hostess 100-Calorie Packs
Nabisco Oreo Cakesters
Source: IRI New product Profiler, New Products Launched February-December 2007