Innova's top trends for 2008: Natural gains momentum

“Natural,” “clean-label” and “origin” will be the key words driving food marketing to increasingly skeptical consumers in 2008. High-profile studies on artificial colorants and food scares related to Chinese ingredients in 2007 will only lead to products being marketed like the Red Band Truly confectionery range from LEAF. The company claims that the introduction is the first major range of sweets to be launched across Europe, where less sugars, as well as fruit juices and natural ingredients, are central.

More recently, Unilever made a major natural move with the launch of Knorr Color Soups. The soups are made of ingredients with the same colors as the soups themselves and without artificial flavorings. “Go Natural” tops the Innova Database (www.innovadatabase.com) 2008 trend list.
 
1. Go Natural – Growing consumer skepticism about additives and artificial colorants will lead to a further rise in the adoption of natural ingredients. Companies that make the transition to natural products will be even keener on highlighting this. Pepsi Raw, a premium product with that replaces high-fructose corn syrup with cane sugar, will be one of the first mainstream launches in this area.
 
2. Condition-Specific – Specialized nutrition is no longer a niche sector, as more and more of the population finds itself requiring it. Danone's acquisition of Numico indicates their aspirations, while DSM's launch of InsuVital demonstrates that mainstream products could soon be available in the race to prevent chronic conditions like diabetes.
 
3. Greener Than Thou – Most of the major food and beverage manufacturers are aiming to give consumers and shareholders the impression that they are carbon conscious. The latest packaging moves are aimed to further declare this.
 
4. Novel Functional Applications – New food technologies will make it possible to increase the drive for healthy products in new categories. Probiotics in chocolate is just one example of a future food, where consumers are given yet another option for achieving their dose of a health ingredient or nutrient.
 
5. Forward to the Past – Consumers are longing to return to times when things were a bit simpler, and nostalgia abounds. Companies are relaunching previously dropped products like Cadbury’s Wispa (as a limited edition) to fulfill their nostalgia demands. Products that are marketed to give the impression of “like mom/grandma would’ve made it” are being launched or repositioned with increasing frequency.
 
6. Interactive Products – Brands are often positioned as more than just products, but ways of life. Packaging has long fulfilled more than just a role of encasing and protecting a product, but packaging developments such as glow-in-the-dark and temperature-sensitive cans and Coke's upcoming launch of the Sprite cooling bottle, indicate a trend toward packaging that offers more.
 
7. Less is More – Packaging that uses less plastic to save on material costs or packaging that is lower in weight -- such as a diverse range of new closures  -- is being adopted at an accelerated pace. Coca-Cola is already introducing reduced-weight bottles. Countering this trend are larger and simpler formats that deal with the needs of older people who have difficulty opening some packaging formats.
 
8. Taking the Brand Further – Taking an established brand into an entirely new sector is hardly a new concept, but some mass moves have been in evidence in this area of late, particularly by Starbucks, which has entered into ventures with Pepsi, Kraft and Hershey's. Jamba Juice is another company that will be seen outside of foodservice, through a licensing agreement with Nestlé.
 
9. Private Innovation – Own-label brands have traditionally been "inspired" by branded manufacturers in the launch of new products. Some recent exceptions, such as Aldi Süd's early adoption of Huhtamaki's Cyclero packaging indicate that this is no longer the case.
 
10. Beautiful Day Arrives – Danone's Essensis launch proved to be a good one, with introductions following in several European markets. Other beauty products are bound to pop up in the upcoming months, including Emmi’s super-premium Beauty Case. Meanwhile, men's beauty products have been one of the key trends in cosmetics in the last couple of years, and it is only a matter of time before the food industry begins to exploit this potential market.

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