Mintel identifies key trends for 2014

by Eric Schroeder
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CHICAGO — Internationalism, instant gratification, drawing the digital line and investing in prevention top the list of trends US consumers are expected to buy into during 2014, according to a new report from Mintel.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil are among the international events set to take place this year. For food and beverage companies, this means an opportunity to reach out to consumers through offering more adventurous cuisine choices.

“Today, 62 percent of adults who have eaten ethnic food say they are confident in their ability to prepare ethnic and international food and some 66 percent of ethnic food eaters who are parents say their children enjoy eating ethnic or international food,” said Jennifer Zegler, a consumer trends analyst with Mintel. “In 2014, we will see new cuisine trends, including Brazilian and Russian food given the connection to the sporting events, but also a rise in popularity of emerging fare such as Vietnamese, Argentinian, or African. Exposure to a new country through its cuisine could lead to a desire to learn more about its culture, cook a recipe at home, or buy something locally made on-line.”

A second trend Mintel expects to play out in 2014 is a growing demand for more accessible technology. In some cases the technology may provide consumers with solutions to problems they weren’t even aware of having, said Stacy Glasgow, a consumer trends analyst at Mintel.

Glasgow said Americans are seeking tools to save time and to achieve those unforeseen solutions, noting that around half of US consumers who use nutritional food and drinks do so because they are easy to consume on the go. In the retail space, she said approximately 63 percent of on-line shoppers agree that shopping on-line is more convenient than going to a store, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) of primary grocery shoppers utilize Internet retailers.

“Those concepts and more will be taken to the next level in the coming year, as consumers seek more digital methods by which they can streamline all areas of life,” Glasgow said.

She continued, “In 2014, approaches to convenience in retail will also be taken to the next level. Concepts like virtual shopping walls, mobile in-store checkouts, sizing technology, smart fridges and mobile wallets will be overshadowed by retailers who are beginning to promise one-hour deliveries, and — on a more extreme scale — discussion around delivery via drones could herald an era where next-day delivery becomes a concept of yesteryear. With all of this in mind, the year ahead could see instant gratification and wearable life enhancements balloon beyond the wildest dreams of our 2013 selves.”

At the same time as instant gratification takes hold, Glasgow said Mintel expects consumers to become “exceedingly cognizant of the need to unplug, to simplify, and to reconnect with the world around them.”

Glasgow said 44 percent of US consumers are concerned that social networking sites display too much information about them, and 81 percent are wary of using their mobile phone as a payment device because they worry about the security of their personal information.

A final trend for 2014 centers on investing in prevention. In the case of the food and beverage industry, Zegler said Mintel’s research shows consumers taking steps to improve their health.

“Around half of juice drinkers consume it to increase their servings of fruits or vegetables as well as to improve their vitamin and/or mineral intake, and 24 percent of people who take vitamins, minerals, or supplements do so to compensate for poor eating habits,” she said. “In 2014, we will see a continued increase in stealth-health products that are fortified with added nutrients, but resemble familiar food and drink, such as protein-fortified juice drinks or prebiotic fiber-enriched snack bars.”
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