#NEXT2022: Consumers do not believe ‘normal’ will return soon

by Louise Burgers. Consumers expect brands to develop products to heal them and boost their immune systems to protect against future disease.

by Louise Burgers. Consumers across the globe expect to be faced with further challenges in 2022 and beyond, such as climate change, following the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, they are putting pressure on brands and retailers to show their sustainability credentials to help save the planet; as well as help them stay healthy through product innovation and ingredient transparency.

In the latest global consumer research released by insights firm, FMCG Gurus, headquartered in the UK, consumers expect a very different reality post-pandemic. They still expect to deal with high levels of uncertainty and a variety of stresses and concerns on a day-to-day basis. The pandemic and concerns around health and Covid has left us all wiser and a bit battle-scarred. The majority of global consumers have made health and lifestyle changes over the past two years, as our earlier report this week on the full 2022 Top Ten Trends from FMCG Gurus, shows. And their expectations of brands and retailers is even higher, as a result.

It’s all about health

Consumers expect brands to develop products, particularly in the food, supplements and skincare categories, that will heal them and help boost their immune systems to protect against future disease. With this comes an expectation that brands will do all they can to minimise the carbon footprint of products throughout the whole supply chain – which includes ethical sourcing of ingredients and the transparency of ingredients on packaging. Consumers want the whole story – they want to know where their products are coming from, that they are safe, have added health benefits, and do not harm the planet.

This applies to retailers too, as to what they stock in store and how they promote their category lines and various brands. If you want your customer back, you must tell the whole story. And with the continuing disruption of global supply chains continuing, this is the perfect opportunity to boost local economies by sourcing new products and ingredients locally.

“As a result of COVID-19, consumers will place more emphasis on protecting the planet. This is because many consumers are questioning whether environmental issues were something that contributed to the devastation caused by the pandemic. As a result of this, they will expect brands to take a proactive approach to sustainability and demonstrate green initiatives along the whole of the supply chain,” reports FMCG Gurus. The proportion of consumers who say they are more concerned about the environment because of COVID-19, is high – 71% globally, and 68% in Africa; 75% in Asia-Pacific; 69% in Europe; 68% in North America; and 78% in South America.

Challenges to healthy living

But there are still barriers to the healthy living and healthy eating that consumers want to embrace, that the industry needs to address. Education, convenience, help with meal prep, meal ideas, and so on, are essential. Consumers in this study and others, want to cook more to save money and eat more healthily, but they don’t always know how to make the right choices. Consumers reported that the top five barriers to healthy living, globally, were:

  1. Eating healthy is expensive (51%).
  2. I have too many things on my mind (51%).
  3. Nutritional labeling is difficult to understand (50%).
  4. I often eat and drink unhealthily because I feel stressed (49%).
  5. It is difficult to find time to relax (47%).

“Irrespective of the high motivations being demonstrated towards improving levels of well-being, the reality is that as life returns to normal, barriers to doing so will continue to exist – even as the threat of coronavirus continues to linger. As a result, it is crucial that better-for-you products are deemed hassle-free to easily incorporate into modern lives,” the report states.

The financial well-being of consumers has also been impacted by the pandemic, and most consumers are wanting to save money on food and drink and maximise value for money.

This is how brands can help, advises FMCG Gurus:

·         As people look to save money on their shopping bills, they will engage in a form of hi/low consumerism, looking to save money on certain products to trade-up in other product categories. If brands are to encourage trade-up, they need to elicit an emotional reaction amongst consumers through leveraging perceptions of value.

·         Continued levels of uncertainty and daily stresses will continue to impact on the emotional wellbeing of people. This will drive demand for products that offer moments of comfort and escapism, especially nostalgic products that elicit an emotional reaction amongst people because they remind them of the past and simpler times.

·         Consumers can often feel that the busy lives that they lead are something that can have a negative impact on health. In a post-pandemic society, these concerns around time-scarcity will intensify, driving demand for products that are deemed to be hassle-free and easy-to-consume, without compromising on other product attributes such as taste.

·         Demand will also intensify for products that help aid relaxation and encourage consumers to switch off.

 Actions brands can take

The long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt well into 2022 and in the years to come, especially when it comes to consumer attitudes and behaviours. It is important to note that the threat of Covid is not yet gone, and consumer focus on health and risk aversion will continue. But this will be alongside a need for indulgence and experimentation of new tastes to try find a little bit of normal, too.

These are the actional recommendations FMCG Gurus made for brands in the Webinar they held to release their Top Trends:

  • Transparency will be more important to consumers than issues such as brand heritage.
  • Flexibility and reactiveness is needed in an uncertain and ever-changing landscape.
  • Self-identity will be of high importance – consumers want brands that they feel align with their attitudes and outlook.
  • Technology will be expected to push the boundaries of opportunities when targeting trends such as health and convenience.
  • Aligning with as many trends as possible enhances perceptions of value – but it is important not to get stuck in the middle.

If you want your customer back, you must tell the whole story. They want to know where their products are coming from, that they are safe, have added health benefits, and do not harm the planet.


More: #10things consumers want brands to focus on for 2022

More: OnShelf: Top FMCG product trends



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Louise Burgers is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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