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04 March 2022

Good for me, good for the planet: consumer trends in FMCG

The Covid-19 pandemic marked a turning point in the lives of consumers around the world. From accelerating the move to digital channels to reshuffling the purchasing priorities of millions, the past two years have profoundly transformed consumers’ needs, wants and purchase journeys. 

With health constantly in the spotlight, it is no surprise that the pandemic fuelled an already rising interest in wellness and wellbeing, turning them into key purchase drivers across a range of segments including fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). In contrast to the unpredictability of the new virus, wellbeing — both bodily and mental — quickly became one of the top concerns for a growing portion of the population who actively looked for ways to be healthier and feel better.  

Across the world, entire populations looked to keep healthy in the face of a reality that constantly put them to the test. A 2021 survey by Nielsen found that nearly half of global consumers said that they made proactive health and wellness choices on a regular basis. Living a longer healthier life and avoiding preventable diseases were the two leading reasons behind this. 

This attitude was quickly reflected in evolving customer journeys, with health-related concerns becoming a decisive factor in the purchase journey. Consumers want products that contribute to their feeling good, both mentally and physically, and FMCG products such as food and drink are a prime area to support this feel-good goal.  

With consumers becoming increasingly aware of the impact of what they ingest on their bodies, it’s no surprise that 30% of European respondents in a survey by McKinsey reported that they planned to focus on healthy eating and nutrition more in 2021 compared with 2020. Likewise, according to Statista, over half of vegans in Europe stated in 2021 they changed to this diet due to health concerns, and in Germany, almost a quarter of consumers who do not eat dairy products avoid dairy for health reasons. 

Beyond the self: a healthy planet 

While the idea of wellbeing is largely connected to the self, consumers nowadays have a broader, more holistic idea of what it means to feel good. In many cases, this concept has evolved to go beyond the limits of the body and the mind to also encompass the health of the planet and the environment. A report by Kantar found that 46% of consumers across 19 countries feel personally affected by environmental problems. 

As environmental awareness grows, sustainability and eco-friendliness have become determining components of the purchase journey across a range of industries, including consumer packaged goods (CPG) and FMCG. Consumers increasingly want products that are not only good for them but also good for the planet, and prioritise sustainable supply chains, ethically sourced ingredients, green packaging and transparent labelling.  

According to Capgemini, 60% of global shoppers said in November 2021 that sustainability would be even more important to them when deciding what retailers or brands to shop with or products to buy once the Covid-19 pandemic was over. In the UK, 52% of consumers said they take a brand’s eco-credentials into consideration when selecting products to buy — a figure that jumps to 65% for household essentials and 62% for the food and drink category, revealed a study by Hearts & Science. Similarly, 21% stated that they have stopped shopping with certain brands over concerns with those business’s environmental impact, a proportion that climbs to 36% in food and drink and 33% for household essentials.  

The opportunity for FMCG companies 

Due to the nature of the products they offer, FMCG companies and their brands are in a prime position to deliver support to consumers who are focused on their health journeys and environmental goals. 

Revising ingredient lists to ensure healthier components and recipes are used — and communicating any changes effectively to their target audience — is key to attracting health-conscious consumers to a product, old or new. Likewise, increasingly opting for organic or more natural ingredients instead of chemicals or artificial elements can also help build rapport with customers who have this as a focus in their purchase requirements. Offering clear, straightforward labels with easy-to-verify claims is essential for shoppers to make easier, quicker decisions regarding your product.  

It’s also important to remember that many of these health-oriented consumers are no longer novices on the topic. Think with Google found that searches for ‘wellness’ increased 21% year-on-year in 2020; however, it noted that these queries were not basic but more complex, pointing to searchers that were past the learning stages of wellness-related topics. For example, searches for ‘what is a vegan?’ were down by 26% year-on-year, while more specific ones such as ‘best vegan protein powder’ increased by 55%. For brands, ensuring you tailor and tweak your content to suit a more knowledgeable audience is key to build trust by being seen as expert in order to connect with wellness or health-focused consumers. 

Reviewing manufacturing processes, supply chains and packaging choices to ensure these aspects are in line with the expectations of a health-conscious audience is essential. Likewise, it is vital to engage with green-minded consumers who want their shopping habits to be kinder to the planet and more sustainable. Additionally, strategies that encourage positive action, such as setting up recycling schemes for old containers or packaging, can also help your brand engage with this growing segment of ‘Eco-Actives’, which Kantar says now represents a $382 billion opportunity for FMCG companies and brands.  

More importantly, these consumers want to engage with brands that are aligned with their values and those that are truly and actively involved in supporting the environment as well as the collective wellbeing. According to Capgemini, 68% of consumers thought that private companies could do more than they are currently doing to help society and humanity at large, so making sure you are taking steps in the right direction and sharing them with your audience — through labelling, but also on channels such as websites and social media — is crucial.  

Establishing or optimising an already existent direct-to-consumer (DTC) channel can help create a closer, more emotional bond with your consumers, enabling a line of direct communication to discuss the topics that matter to your audience. Additionally, because it gives access to first-party data, the DTC approach can be an invaluable tool to keep up to date with evolving consumer needs and tailor your offering accordingly. 

At THG Ingenuity, we’ve supported the growth journey of FMCG brands including Hotel Chocolat and Vita Coco, and helped them scale their operations and connect seamlessly with global audiences. Get in touch today to find out how we can help your business expand to new markets. 

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